LONG BEACH, Calif. – Peter Cunningham and Ryan Eversley both put their RealTime Acura TLX-GT machines in the top 10 at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The duo survived an incident packed race and scored valuable points for the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship.
Cunningham and Eversley started at opposite ends of the grid. Eversley lined up the No. 43 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT in fifth position, while Cunningham’s No. 42 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT took up the 31st position.
Both cars got away cleanly from the standing start, but a stalled car on the front straight necessitated a full-course caution before a full lap could be completed. At the single file restart Cunningham made it safely through Turn 1, going into the fountain turn he got hit from behind. Thankfully, the damage was mostly cosmetic and Cunningham did not need to make a trip to pit lane.
“Going into the Fountain, the guy behind me couldn’t stop fast enough and hit me a ton,” Cunningham said. “That forced me into the guy in front of me, even though I was all the way on the brakes.”
There is a saying in motorsports that ‘yellows breed yellows,’ and that was certainly the case for this 50-minute event on the streets of Long Beach, California. In a race that contained only seven laps of green flag racing, Eversley was fighting to defend at the front, while Cunningham was fighting to move ahead from the back.
Running as high as fourth, Eversley was under attack during each restart. He managed to hold off the likes of Michael Lewis’ Porsche and JD Davison’s Nissan, but on the final restart fell to sixth, where he would finish. A solid result especially considering the No. 43’s right front tire was losing air toward the end of the race.
“For some reason I just could not get going on the restarts,” Eversley said. “It’s like we were down on power in second gear, which is strange because we were doing the same laps we ran in practice. It was really frustrating to give up spots on the restarts to cars that we were faster than, but that’s the nature of the beast here.”
Save for the opening lap yellow for a stalled car, Cunningham had to avoid the additional three incidents that caused the remaining full-course caution periods, plus a bevy of other spinning, sliding and stopped cars. The winningest driver in World Challenge history had no issues avoiding the carnage and working his way through the field to an impressive ninth-place finish.
“Some of it was fair and square passing and out-braking other cars into the corner, but some of it was guys spinning off in front of me like ping-pong balls,” Cunningham laughed.
With two cars in the top 10 and only some bodywork to replace on Cunningham’s car, both drivers were pleased to come away from the brutal street race in one piece, especially with a doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama only a few days away.
“It was a great result,” concluded Cunningham. “I’m very pleased to get out on the other side with a top-10 finish. Kudos to the RealTime guys, because the car worked flawlessly throughout. Our No. 42 doesn’t look as pretty as it did at the start, but it should be fine for next weekend.”
“My hat’s off to the RealTime guys because they fixed a tricky issue that we had in warm-up,” Eversley said. “They busted their butts on that all day, and I really appreciate them getting us tuned up so we’d be ready for the race. The car is in one piece, so we go to Barber and hopefully get a better result. I had a lot of fun and it’s been awesome to compete in front of HPD’s home crowd and all the engineers that came here for support. All in all a good weekend.”
Following Round Five, Acura is fourth in the Pirelli World Challenge GT Manufacturers’ standings, Eversley is fourth and Cunningham is 19th in the GT Drivers’ standings.
A replay of the Long Beach Grand Prix will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, April 26 at 3:30pm ET.
The RealTime crew has a short turnaround before Rounds 6 and 7 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The Grand Prix of Alabama takes place April 24 – 26, with Saturday’s race scheduled for 12:20pm ET and Sunday’s raced to take place at 11:55am ET. Both races will be streamed live on www.world-challengetv.com.