Acura, Honda Sweep Pirelli World Challenge Manufacturer Titles
The SCCA Pirelli World Challenge wrapped up its 2012 season August 26 in Sonoma, California, with Acura claiming the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship – along with the drivers’ title for RealTime Racing driver Peter Cunningham – and Honda winning both the Touring Car and the new B-Spec category Manufacturers’ Championships.
Having already clinched the Manufacturers’ Championship for Acura with a 1-2 finish last month at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the RealTime Racing duo of Cunningham and teammate Nick Esayian came to Sonoma with Cunningham in sight of a record-extending seventh drivers’ title.
After an early-race battle with the Camaro of Andy Lee, Cunningham settled into second, where he finished to secure the title. In the 12-race GTS season, Cunningham scored only two wins, but chalked up eight podium finishes to claim the championship and lead Acura to its second GTS Manufacturers’ Championship in the last three years, and RealTime’s 10th World Challenge title in all classes.
"This championship sweep is a tribute to the RealTime Acura group," Cunningham said. "I just do the easy part. The level of preparation, the handling, the reliability and the power are always constant throughout the year. We may not have won the most races, but it's consistency that wins championships. I want to thank Acura, HPD and the whole RealTime crew for all their hard work and dedication this year. I know I always say I have good luck when I'm running the number ‘42,’ but I am looking forward to wearing the number ‘one’ again in 2013."
Cunningham’s championship is the 14th for his RealTime Racing squad. Running with V6 power for the first time in 2012, RealTime’s pair of Acura TSXs battled throughout the season with the Porsche Cayman of veteran Jack Baldwin, along with a fleet of V8-powered Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros. Ably backing up his team leader, Esayian ended the season fifth in his TSX.
In the Touring Car category, where no fewer than three races over an action-filled Sonoma weekend closed out the season, Todd Lamb finished second in the opening race, won the second and closed out his 2012 season another second-place finish in his Compass360 Honda Civic Si to secure the manufacturers’ crown for Honda, ahead of Mazda and Volkswagen.
Both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles were still up for grabs on Sunday at Sonoma as the combined Touring Car/B-Spec field lined up for the final standing start of the season.
As the 40-minute race rolled on, Lamb tried his best to close the gap to the race-leading Mazda3 of Michael Cooper, but was unable to mount a late-race rally. Still, his second-place finish, with teammate Ryan Winchester third, was more than enough for Honda to take the TC Manufacturers’ Championship by 18 points over Mazda. Cooper claimed the drivers’ crown, with Lamb second.
“We were used to the Mazda going out front early, but then burning off its tires and coming back to us,” Lamb said. “But somehow they figured out how not to do that! We did everything we could and while the drivers’ championship didn’t work out for us, I’m proud to have been part of the Compass360 effort this year that helped Honda win the manufacturers’ championship.”
A new category for 2012, designed as a relatively low-cost entry-level category into professional racing, the B-Spec class provided plenty of thrills this year, with Honda Fit drivers scoring five wins in nine races to complete a sweep of World Challenge Manufacturers’ titles for Honda and Acura.
Andre Rapone took a trio of B-Spec victories at Mosport, while Connor Ford won two of the three Sonoma rounds to secure manufacturer honors for Honda. But neither driver contested the full season, so the drivers’ championship went to full-season driver Jonathan Start, with just two wins aboard his Fiat.