LEXINGTON, Ohio – In front of thousands of Honda and Acura associates from nearby facilities, RealTime Acura captured a top five and runner-up finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the latest round of the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship.
RealTime Acura arrived at Mid-Ohio with plenty of big news for race fans. The Wisconsin-based team unloaded an Acura NSX GT3 to make its first public exhibition laps during the weekend. Driven by Peter Kox, the No. 93 NSX GT3 ran with the GT field in Thursday’s test sessions and did several laps before official qualifying on Saturday.
As the NSX GT3 race program prepares to make its official debut in 2017, RealTime Acura driver/owner Peter Cunningham has stepped away from the Acura TLX-GT to focus on the NSX GT3’s development.
“With the latest NSX coming on line, it is a very important program for the company and I’m honored to be able to contribute,” Cunningham said. “As I focus my energies on the NSX, we knew we needed to find a top-notch driver for the TLX-GT to bring Acura the best possible result.”
That driver is sports car ace Spencer Pumpelly, of Atlanta, Georgia. Pumpelly drove the No. 34 Acura/HPD/Red Line Oil/RealTime Acura TLX-GT alongside Ryan Eversley’s No. 43 this weekend at Mid-Ohio. He will also be in the car at Utah Motorsports Campus in August.
SATURDAY – RACE ONE
For Saturday’s Round 14 race, Pumpelly lined up eighth and Eversley 11th. Pumpelly took a hard hit moments after the green flag came out and though it appeared he survived the incident unscathed, his TLX-GT showed its injuries after a re-start from yellow.
“About halfway through the first corner I got hit really hard,” Pumpelly recalled. “I was lucky to keep the car straight in front of all the traffic coming behind me. After the restart, I noticed I was getting lockup into Turn Four, which for an ABS car isn’t normal. Then, on the very next lap something really let go in the right rear. When I hit the brakes, even at slow speed going into the second corner, the car turned dramatically right and I ended up stuck in the gravel.”
While Pumpelly was the victim of contact, Eversley was the benefactor, moving up to fifth before the second of three full-course yellows. For the remainder of the race, he was locked in a heated battle with the No. 99 McLaren driven by Jon Fogarty. Despite his best efforts, Eversley did not advance any farther and crossed the finish line in fifth, which was as sweet as a victory in his book.
“I like that I can battle with a guy like Fogarty in the Red Dragon and not have to worry about either of us doing anything dumb,” Eversley said. “We’re just two guys racing close and putting on a good show. I was grinning ear-to-ear racing with him, because I know that car is a fan favorite and we’re a fan favorite and we’re probably the best battle going on.
“It was a real thrill. I can’t thank everyone at Honda, HPD, RealTime and Acura enough. I didn’t think we’d get a top 10 here, let alone a top five. We got points on everyone in the championship today except [Alvaro] Parente and [Bryan] Heitkotter, so today was a good day for us and I’m really happy.”
SUNDAY – RACE TWO
Fast race laps from Saturday’s race set the grid for Sunday. This put Eversley eighth for the start, but Pumpelly would have to start back in 13th, having exited Saturday’s race early.
Eversley was a rocket on the start, moving all the way up to second and earning the Optima Batteries Best Start Award. He was pressuring the lead Cadillac hard before the two settled into a rhythm and pulled away from the rest of the field. Slower traffic would help close and expand the gap between Eversley and the Cadillac throughout the race, but he was not able to find a way into the lead. Though he did momentarily have to defend his spot from the Parente’s McLaren, Eversley took the checkered flag in second.
“That was unreal,” grinned Eversley. “My HPD guy Jordan, he’s been working on start and re-start software. Now we’ve timed it perfectly and my spotter Kevin called it perfectly. Everybody went to the inside and I had a lane on the outside. It was like Lime Rock all over again.
“A top five for us yesterday we considered a win and now this podium is unreal. I’m very happy and thankful to everyone at Acura, HPD and RealTime.”
Pumpelly was quick to pick up spots on the opening laps and was soon in a lengthy battle with the Porsche of Patrick Long. After earning the Road & Track Pass of the Race for his move around the Porsche, Pumpelly set his sights on Fogarty’s McLaren with 15 laps to go. In the end he wasn’t able to catch him, but did set the fastest lap of the race in the process and finished eighth.
“We had a really good car today,” Pumpelly said. “It was a weapon, but it was very tough to pass even with the best car out there, especially when you’re up under another car’s wing and getting updrafts and losing front grip. It took me longer than I’d hoped to pick through the slower cars. When we did, we had a good car, but just a little too late to fight for a podium. It was a little bit disappointing that we weren’t up higher, but certainly with the luck we had yesterday, I’ll take today over that. Great job by Ryan Eversley finishing P2. Thanks to everybody at RealTime, Honda, HPD and Acura for this opportunity.”
World Challenge GT Rounds 14 and 15 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will air on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, August 7, at 4pm ET.
RealTime Acura has less than two weeks before it’s back on track at Utah Motorsports Campus, August 12 – 14.