Acura Motorsports Race Report
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
1.8-mile temporary street circuit – St. Petersburg, FL
Weather: Sunny, mild, 80 degrees F
Ryan Eversley Paces Acura Results in St. Petersburg with Pair of Top-10 Runs
- Eversley earns third top-10 finish in first four races of 2016 season
- Peter Cunningham earns season-best results with strong late-race efforts
- Sixth-place run on Sunday is best of Pirelli World Challenge Season for Acura TLX-GT
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – (March 13, 2016) – The RealTime Racing Team used a pair of powerful Acura TLX-GT machines to overcome some bad luck and post its best results of the young Pirelli World Challenge season Sunday in St. Petersburg, FL.
Ryan Eversley found the key to the race weekend early in qualifying for Saturday’s race. Unfortunately, that key was lodged in his tire, causing a flat that dropped him to 16th on the grid. Driver/owner Peter Cunningham gridded 18th on the tight 1.8-mile St. Petersburg course, but the pair of Acuras was able to take advantage of long green-flag runs to move up to 10th and 13th, respectively, at the finish. More importantly, Eversley posted the sixth-fastest lap time of the race, which enabled him to start Sunday’s race in the top three rows.
“I’m not normally excited to finish 10th in a race, but we started on the second-to-last row and worked our way up through guys that were on the podium at the last event,” said Eversley. “Our car was easy to drive and I didn’t feel like I was abusing the tires or the brakes. I was catching Nissans and Porsches toward the end of the race, and they looked like they were struggling.”
Eversley made that effort pay off handsomely on Sunday as he kept his blue-and-white Acura TLX-GT at the sharp end of the grid, bringing it home in a season-best sixth place. The result was Eversley’s best since Long Beach of 2015, and was the best for the RealTime Racing Acura since Cunningham wrapped the 2015 campaign with a sixth-place result at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“Our work on long runs really paid off in Race 1 as Ryan and Peter were able to move through the field for good results,” said Acura Motorsports Team Leader Lee Niffenegger. “Everyone at HPD and RTR did a great job this weekend. If not for a little bad luck, I strongly feel we would have shown even better here in St. Pete. We are now really looking forward to Acura’s “home” event in Long Beach in a few weeks.”
Sunday’s race was marred by accidents, causing 38 of the race’s 50 minutes to be run under the caution flag. Cunningham showed his skills in making the most of the limited green-flag time to gain five spots in climbing from 18th on the grid to place 14th in the competitive GT class.
“At first, I was just biding my time, because it’s hard to pass on a tight street course,” Cunningham reported. “There wasn’t a whole lot I could do since we had very few green-flag laps on Sunday, but the restarts and taking advantage of others’ misfortunes allowed me to move up. More importantly, we’ve got two sharp Acura TLX-GTs here that won’t need to be rebuilt before Long Beach!”
The RealTime Racing Acuras will have a month to prepare for the concrete canyons of Long Beach, as the World Challenge GT series will compete at North America’s longest-running and most prestigious road circuit April 17. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the rare weekend during which the PWC teams run only one race, but last year, the RTR team made it pay off with a pair of top-nine finishes.
“I’m ready to go to Long Beach tomorrow,” Eversley exclaimed. “There are a lot of great drivers in this series who have won numerous championships, and we’re running right up there with them in our second weekend with the rear-wheel drive setup.”
Developed from the production Acura TLX by HPD and RealTime Racing, the Acura TLX-GT features HPD chassis and aerodynamic performance parts approved for Pirelli World Challenge competition. It is powered by a direct-injected, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, developed by HPD from the production Acura TLX.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Acura Pirelli World Challenge racing activities in St. Petersburg are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2016 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.