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RealTime Racing has become a staple of the SCCA World Challenge series over the last decade, racing some of the world’s top-bred Acuras to success. Now the team looks poised and ready to reclaim the manufacturer’s championship in the GTS class with their newly-upgraded V6 TSX race cars.
In 2010, RealTime Racing took home the inaugural GTS class Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championship but last year they had to fend off V8-powered Ford Mustangs. Even though it was a fairly successful campaign with one win, two pole positions, and eight podium finishes, the second place in the manufacturers standings didn’t sit well with the team. In the off-season, RealTime Racing decided to swap out the four-cylinder powerplant in its race car for a more formidable V6.
For the 2012 season, the TSXs will be powered by Acura’s 3.5L VTEC V6 engine, which will give it the power it needs to compete with the likes of the BMW M3, Nissan 370Z, Mitsubishi Evo, Audi TT, and more.
“In order to improve the competitiveness of the TSX in World Challenge, we have moved forward with switching RealTime from the four-cylinder to the V6,” said Lee Niffenegger, Senior Engineer at Honda Performance Development. “Making the switch to the top trim level of our TSX engine line-up will enable RealTime to continue its record-setting performance in the Series, while further establishing this Acura model as one of the most successful in World Challenge history.”
Peter Cunningham, team owner and the winningest driver in World Challenge history, will be back behind the wheel of the number-42 RealTime Acura TSX, joined by teammate Nick Esayian in the number-34 TSX. You can watch the St. Petersburg doubleheader season opener live this weekend.
To celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary, Acura is producing a Special Edition of the TSX. The TSX Special Edition model will give the popular sedan a sportier, more aggressive look – a good thing, considering the upgrades are all cosmetic.
The TSX will receive a more aggressive front spoiler, unique side sills and rear fascia as well as new polished 17-inch alloy rims with a dark grey background. On the inside, the seats will be finished with black suede inserts that contrast the red stitching. The red stitching will also carry over on the steering wheel and shift knob. The red theme continues on the gauges, overhead lighting and foot-well. The sedan will also receive aluminum pedals and silver plating for the steering-wheel-mounted shifters.
Powering the TSX will be the K24 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, mated to either a close-ratio 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. The TSX Special Edition will make its debut at the Orange Country International Auto Show on September 22nd, and will likely go on sale at the same time.
GALLERY: TSX Special Edition
Earlier this year, we heard word that RealTime Racing would be making the jump to the World Challenge GTS class. And just like that, in what was supposed to be a much more competitive class with even faster cars, RealTime driver and company owner Peter Cunningham has maneuvered his No. 43 RTR Acura TSX all the way to the top yet again. This is Cunningham’s sixth drivers’ championship making him the most decorated driver in World Challenge.
And yes, there is still one event left in the World Challenge Series for the year, but Cunningham and RealTime Racing have been so successful in the GTS class that they can now simply just have some fun in the finale and not have to worry about losing the championship. Cunningham also managed to turn in the fastest GTS lap of the day with a time of 2:09.907 and now has 40 career wins.
So what lies ahead for Cunningham and his RealTime Racing team? We’re not sure, but we’re hoping they find a way to make it even more challenging for the competition and showing off just how refined their racing program truly is.
For those of us who grew up and believing that Honda and Acura were the only “cool” auto manufacturers in the world, RealTime Racing had the coolest of the cool. From NSXs to Integra Type-Rs to RSXs to TSXs, RealTime Racing campaigned some of the most beautifully built touring car racers of the last two decades.
Being 11-time World Challenge Champions is no easy task and it looks like RealTime Racing is looking for a whole new challenge for 2010. “Coming into the new year we had a decision to make: Remove a number of go-fast bits and run in Touring Car, or tune up our TSXs to try and be competitive in GTS,” explained ’08 Touring Car champion Cunningham. “It’s a faster group of cars – anything from other Acuras and Lotus, all the way to big iron like Corvette and Viper.”
Those big sports cars probably won’t to be too popular, however, with the field likely to be dominated by the Acuras and a fleet of BMWs that are expected to make the jump to GTS.
By being able to build on top of an already strong and championship-proven platform, RealTime Racing will once again return as the favorites for us enthusiasts growing up loving all things Honda and Acura. This may just be the excitement we’ve all been waiting for from World Challenge; seeing new-generation Acura TSXs competing against heavy American muscle and other nimble counterparts. The official release from RealTime Racing available after the jump.
We’ll be sure to see how the RTR Acuras compete, with the first race of the season taking place this weekend in St. Petersburg, FL.
[Source: RealTime Racing]
GALLERY: Real Time Racing Acuras
Jason Saini races his Mazda6 to victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park's Thunderbolt Raceway
Jason Saini raced to the top of the podium in his Mazda6 this weekend, during the SCCA’s SPEED World Challenge Touring Car series event at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway. Saini placed third in qualifying but quickly made it to second place off the standing start, and spent much of the rest of the race fender to fender with defending series champion Peter Cunningham in his RealTime Racing TSX.
Saini passed Cunningham on the third lap but only secured some distance when Cunningham got tied up defending his position from Andrew Aquilante in the Phoenix Performance Inc. Subaru WRX.
When the checkered flag flew, however, Saini had secured an almost three second advantage after Cunningham, giving him not only the race victory but also the lead in the points race.
“I raced with Peter a couple of times last year. We had some side-by-side battles. He came out on top last year. This time, I came out on top. It is a dream come true to race with a guy like Peter,” said Saini. “I looked at where his strengths and weaknesses were and tried to push him. I tried to stick the nose in every once and a while to see. I just had a bit of a stronger car at that point and I was able to get down on the inside. I tried one time. I didn’t make it stick. I tried again and it did.”
As for the third-place Aquilante, he managed the last podium spot in just his third World Challenge race. Initially much of the credit can be handed to Subaru’s all-wheel drive system, which allowed Aquilante to race from a standing-start grid position of 8th to 3rd overall in just one lap.
“The start was good,” Aquilante said. “It was kind of wild the first couple of laps, with Jason and P.D. going back and forth. Jason got around him and things settled in single file. Then, about halfway through the race, I started to try to pick it up and the tires started to go away.”
“I finally caught up to them. I had a few runs at Peter down the front straightaway. We went side-by-side. He knew what I was going to do, so he protected the inside well. There were a couple of times he let me on the inside, but I couldn’t quite make it stick. I tried not to run him off the road. It was a good race.”
Finishing out the top five were Cunningham’s teammates Kuno Wittmer in 4th and Pierre Kleinubing in 5th.
As for the points race, as mentioned, with the win Saini takes the lead, with Kleinubing in 2nd and Seth Thomas in 3rd with his BMW 328i.
The race will be broadcast on SPEED Chanel Friday, May 22 at 2 p.m.. The next race is scheduled for Mosport International Raceway on May 16th and 17th
[Photo Credit: Mark Weber/SCCA]
Complete race results after the jump:
Seth Thomas, piloting the No. 38 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i, jumped into the lead off the standing start during the first race of the 2009 World Challenge Touring Car series and never looked back.
With a qualifying run that landed him in 2nd, Thomas used the BMW’s rear-drive advantage to get a quick lead on pole-sitter Pierre Kleinubing in the front-drive RealTime Acura TSX and after just three laps had put just over a second between the two cars.
“I didn’t expect that kind of advantage going into Turn One,” Thomas said. “The BMWs have rear-wheel drive and they launch really well off the start. Pierre [Kleinubing] has a lot of experience starting up there and I expected him to be tough and get a little better launch. The way it worked out, I went into the brake zone for Turn One and looked in the mirror and saw the gap. I just thought ‘just maintain that and see what we can do.’”
Kleinubing and RealTime teammate Kuno Wittmer attempted to chase Thomas down, but after Whitmer retired due to mechanical problems, the race belonged to the Bimmerworld team, taking the podium 2.563 seconds ahead of the RealTime Acura.
“I’ve been coming here for many years,” Thomas said. “I always had good success at Sebring in the BMW Club stuff I did. Then we came to World Challenge and things went a little haywire. After last year, it’s definitely redemption here. Last year, we should have started on the pole but a technical infraction got us in trouble and we had to start from the back. I felt like this year was going to be the year.
“I keep telling everybody, there’s no words that can describe winning. It’s the best feeling. We’ve worked so hard to get here and it’s finally happened.”
Kleinubing admitted he pretty much lost the race right at the beginning thanks to an overly eager right foot.
“Halfway through first gear I spun the tires pretty badly on the big painted stripe and lost a little bit there from first to second. [Thomas] pulled a huge gap at that point. Every time I’d get a little closer, he seemed to answer and pull it back out. I just did what I could and finished second.”
Kleinubing states that he was eager to get to the next race where he will pilot a brand new TSX. At Sebring, only RealTime owner/racer and defending series champ Peter Cunningham had one of the new TSXs on the track and finished in 9th place after loosing body work in an incedent.
No manufacturer has ever received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Top Safety Pick rating for every car it produces… until now. With a top crash rating for the new 2009 TL, all five Acura cars and SUVs (including the RL, TL, TSX, MDX and RDX) carry the prestigious Top Safety Pick rating.
To get the top rating, each vehicle has to score a “Good” for each of the three test categories, which are: Frontal Offset Crash Test, Side Impact Collision Evaluation (SICE) and Rear Crash Protection.
For several years now the IIHS demands that Top Safety Pick winners be equipped with stability control. That being said, all Acura models now come with the company’s Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system.
Starting in 2009 every Acura also comes with the following safety features: Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, anti-lock braking system (ABS), dual-stage/dual-threshold front airbags, side airbags with front passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), active head restraints for front seats, front seatbelts with automatic tensioning system and load limiters, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Daytime Running Lights (DRL).
Acura also scores highly in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests, with a top rating for front crashes – the most common type of accident.