Peter Cunningham and his RealTime Racing Acura TSX fought off a determined challenge from the Porsche Cayman S of veteran Jack Baldwin to win the GTS class at the Laguna Seca on May 12, in the fourth round of the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge.
The victory was the first for Cunningham since switching to Acura V6 power at the start of the season, and moved both driver and manufacturer to the top of the GTS championship standings.
In the Touring Car class, it was Todd Lamb coming through to post his second class victory of the season aboard his Compass360 Honda Civic Si, also taking over the drivers’ championship points lead and moving Honda to the top of the TC manufacturers’ championship.
Starting from the GTS pole for the fourth time this year, Cunningham fell back to second behind Baldwin on the opening lap, but regained the advantage on the second lap. From there, Cunningham was never headed, but Baldwin was relentless in his pursuit, finishing less than a half-second behind at the checkers. Nick Esayian finished fourth in the second RealTime Acura V6.
“I was pleased we had such good speed at the start,” Cunningham said. “We were able to get a good run out of [Turn] Six. We went side-by-side up the hill and we touched a little, but ended up in the lead. From there, it was a controlled pace for awhile. I could do my laps and still be nice to the tires. Then two yellows. Of course, we’ve been there before so we know what can happen. The first restart was great, and I had a good advantage after the first lap. Then the yellow came out again. After the second restart, Jack was coming and he was doing a great job and pressuring pretty hard and I managed to just stay ahead of him to the checker.”
In TC, Lamb started second, but moved around pole qualifier Tristan Herbert’s Volkswagen GTi at the start. Lamb led for the entire race, but was challenged mid-race by the GTi of Jeff Altenburg. Late in the contest, Lamb was able to put a lapped car between his Civic Si and Altenburg’s car, giving him the margin needed for his second TC win of 2012. Teammate Shea Holbrook finished fourth in her Truecar Civic Si for Compass360.
“It was a great [championship] points day,” Lamb said at the finish. “It’s nice to win races, but we’re here to win the championship for Honda, and taking over the points lead today is a huge step forward.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Championships next travel to the streets of Belle Isle Park for the Detroit Grand Prix, June 1-3, with live timing and scoring available at www.world-challenge.com. The Laguna Seca round of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships will be televised on the NBC Sports Network, Sunday, May 27, at 11 p.m. EDT.