AUSTIN, Texas (March 9, 2015) – RealTime Racing scored the best finish to-date for the new Acura TLX-GT, storming through the Pirelli World Challenge GT field to finish fifth in the rain. It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the team, as only one of its two entries started the second half of the doubleheader at Circuit of the Americas.
Saturday – Race 1
In a field of 40 cars containing 13 manufacturers, Peter Cunningham and Ryan Eversley qualified 26th and 29th, respectively. The Acura’s all-wheel drive proved especially useful on the standing start as both the No. 42 and No. 43 RealTime/Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GTs rocketed away from the grid. Eversley’s start earned him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award for picking up 11 positions in total.
“The start went really well,” Eversley said. “We had a good test here a couple weeks ago and spent a half day just doing standing start practice, because I haven’t done very many of them in my career. With the new car and the all-wheel drive, and launch system, we wanted to make sure everything was spot on. Obviously it worked out.
“There was something going on with the grid. Some of the cars were out of line and not where they were supposed to be, so I was laughing about it as it took place and I think that relaxed me a little bit. I just kind of went when the lights turned out and the thing took off like a rocket. I couldn’t believe how many cars we passed!”
The tide turned quickly as both Cunningham and Eversley were hit by others. Cunningham was spun off track, and continued, but quickly became aware of a problem requiring that he bring the car onto pit lane.
“I had a great start,” Cunningham said. “I passed a bunch of cars, at least five or six, but then I was caught on the inside lane, so I couldn’t go anywhere. I fell into line and sorted through that first turn melee. I started to chip away at the cars ahead of me and passed a couple of them. Then, out of nowhere, a Mercedes hit me. We both spun off the road. I got back going, but not until the whole field went by. The car seemed fine, but then it was starting to act funny and I realized something wasn’t right. I went for another couple laps, but with the high-speed nature of this track and a lot of hard things to hit, I opted to pit and it turned out to be a good decision. It wouldn’t have been a good idea to stay out there with the suspension broken like that.”
Eversley’s suspension damage took several laps to rear its ugly head. Upon inspection in pitlane, the team determined it was unsafe for the No. 43 to continue.
“For five or six laps it was fine, but eventually, it wore down and we had to come in and not risk the car,” Eversley said. “We have another race tomorrow and another race at St. Pete in a couple of weeks. We don’t want to have a big incident or issue that we can’t fix in time. Hats off to the RealTime guys for building such an awesome car. I had so much fun! It was a short-lived stint, but I was grinning like a little kid the whole time.”
Sunday – Race 2
The grid for Sunday’s race, based off of fast laps from Saturday’s race, put Eversley 25th on the grid and Cunningham 29th. Unfortunately, the No. 42 had to withdraw from Sunday’s event. Saturday’s hit had been in a bad spot and the RealTime crew determined they could not repair it sufficiently at the track.
Due to wet conditions on Sunday, World Challenge officials opted to forgo the traditional standing start in favor of a rolling start. In a steady rain, Eversley timed the start perfectly, picking up eight positions and once again collected the Optima Batteries Best Start Award. Before the one-third mark, a full-course caution was issued to remove a disabled car from its unsafe position. On the restart, Eversley once again burst through the spray and was up to ninth.
Eversley continued to unleash the all-wheel drive power of the TLX-GT on the wet track and powered through the field with precision. Making quick work of Audis, Ferraris, Cadillacs, McLarens and Porsches, he set the second-fastest lap of the race en route to a fifth-place finish.
“We went into Turn One and I was able to get by five or six guys that lifted early, but in Turn Three, a Cadillac spun, and I went to the outside to avoid him and lost all of the spots I’d gained,” Eversley recalled. “We came through the field very quickly and I was taking my time and not trying to do anything crazy. I knew when we passed Olivier Beretta [No. 61 Ferrari 458] that we were pretty fast and were going to be a solid top five. I caught Madison Snow [No. 21 Audi R8] but got on the curb too much and got a bit wide, so it took me a second to regroup. I was able to run him down and get into the top five with two laps to go.
“Major hats off to HPD and RealTime for working late at the track fixing the car from yesterday, making it even better than before. The car was so good it made me look like a rockstar. It was so fun. I can’t say thanks enough.”
Watching on from pit lane, Cunningham was proud to see the team’s efforts rewarded with a top-five finish.
“What a great gift for this RealTime bunch after all the work that they’ve put in,” Cunningham said. “It’s a long season and yesterday was a long day. To go from 25th to fifth in this field of cars was incredible. It was a great job by Ryan and a great job by everybody to help make today happen.”
Making up 20 positions from start to finish in the 50-lap race, Eversley collected the VP Fuels Hard Charger Award.
The top-five finish was a positive note for RealTime to leave Texas on and look forward to Rounds Three and Four in St. Petersburg, Florida, as part of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 27 – 29.
The Grand Prix of Texas will air on CBS Sports, Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. ET.