Frank A. Filipponio
| Mar 16, 2016
Second outing for the GT class of the Pirelli World Challenge series, moving from the road course at COTA to the Streets of St. Petersburg in just a few days - for back-to-back weekends of racing. "Team StopTech" was once again well represented by Ryan Eversley and Peter Cunningham in the RealTime Acura TLX-GTs. As soon as the checkered flag flew in Austin, the RealTime transporters were packed up and en route to St. Petersburg, hustling cross country to make the Thursday track sessions.
The team was looking forward to the St. Pete weekend, since the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit is where Eversley scored the first race win for the TLX-GT last year. Eversley was hit with a bit of bad luck, however, when his No. 43 Acura/HPD/Red Line Oil/RealTime Acura TLX-GT suffered a flat tire in qualifying. The culprit was later found to be a house key that someone had accidentally dropped at the track. At the end of the 20-minute qualifying session, Eversley was in P16 and Cunningham was 18th. Saturday – Race 1
In Saturday's race, Eversley had a fantastic start, picking up four spots in the opening laps. He got into an epic battle with the Bentleys while working through the GT Cup traffic, earning the Move of the Race Award with his pass on the No. 88 car. Once around both Conti GTs, Eversley worked his way up to a strong 10th place finish.
"I'm not normally excited to finish 10th in a race, but we started on the second to the last row and worked our way up through guys that were on the podium at the last event,” Eversley said. “I was catching Nissans and Bentleys and Porsches toward the end of the race and they looked like they were struggling. Our car wasn’t the fastest, but it was easy to drive and I didn’t feel like I was abusing the tires or the brakes. I think we’ve learned a lot about the Acura in terms of tire degradation at COTA. I’m really happy for the RealTime guys because they worked really hard after our issue in qualifying.”
Cunningham, meanwhile, had to take on the same Bentleys in the later part of the 50-minute race. He made it past the No. 88, but ran out of time to catch the No. 87 and finished 13th.
"At first I was just biding my time, because it’s hard to pass on a tight street course,” Cunningham said. “Frankie Montecalvo went long and I got by him, but then I was by myself for awhile. I lost some ground on the group ahead of me when I had to work through the GT Cup field, but I eventually caught back up to them. Several cars came back to me at the end of the race: the Bentleys, a Ferrari and a McLaren. We definitely had a good car at the end and some of these other teams didn’t. I think we can improve on our finish tomorrow.” Sunday – Race 2
Sunday’s race was marked by two lengthy yellow-flag periods, but both Cunningham and Eversley managed to squeak through the mess unscathed. Fastest laps on Saturday determined the starting grid for Sunday, placing Eversley sixth and Cunningham 18th.
Eversley had his hands full the entire race. While trying to get around the No. 9 McLaren 650S he also had a rear-view mirror full of Bentleys. Eversley got around the McLaren with a textbook pass in Turn 1 just before another multi-car incident brought out the second full-course yellow.
When racing resumed, only two laps remained. Eversley held position and brought the No. 43 car home in sixth.
“There are a lot of great drivers in this series who’ve won numerous championships and we’re running right up there with them in our second weekend with the rear-wheel drive setup,” beamed Eversley. “I’m pumped! I’m ready to go to Long Beach tomorrow! We just needed a few more green laps, because I think we had something for the GT leaders today. We’re coming away with some manufacturer points, which is huge, and I’m very, very happy.”
Cunningham had a lot more traffic to navigate starting in 18th, but he was able to avoid the chaos too.
“Qualifying is everything on a street course like this and I messed up by not getting a good time in the race yesterday, which sets the grid for today,” Cunningham explained. “There wasn’t a whole lot I could do since we had very few green-flag laps, but the restarts and taking advantage of others’ misfortunes allowed me to move up.
“We’ve got two sharp TLXs here that won’t need to be rebuilt before Long Beach like some of the other teams,” Cunningham added. “Thanks to RealTime, HPD, Acura and all of our supporters.”
Next on the schedule is StopTech's home street course - the Grand Prix of Long Beach April 15 – 17. We can't wait to see everyone at the track. A recap of the St. Petersburg weekend will air on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, March 20 at Noon ET.
Full Pirelli World Challenge schedule from CBS Sports Network below for the COTA and St. Pete races.
GT – Circuit of the Americas:
3/13 – 10:30 AM ET – Premiere
3/15 – 7:00 PM ET
3/16 – 10:00 PM ET
3/18 – 1:00 PM ET
GTS – Circuit of the Americas:
3/17 – 8:00 PM ET – Premiere
3/18 – 12:00 PM ET
3/20 – 9:00 PM ET
TC – Circuit of the Americas:
3/17 – 9:00 PM ET – Premiere
3/20 – 10:00 PM ET
GT – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:
3/20 – 12:00 PM ET – Premiere
3/26 – 6:00 PM ET
GTS – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:
3/31 – 9:00 PM ET – Premiere
4/7 – 9:00 PM ET