Rounds 8 and 9 of the 2010 World Challenge Championship took place at the scenic and demanding Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, under beautiful blue skies. RealTime Acura drivers Peter Cunningham and Nick Esayian started out the weekend on the right foot by qualifying in the top two spots in the GTS category with their matching Acura TSXs. They went on to finish in the same order in both Saturday's and Sunday's races, clinching Acura's ninth World Challenge Manufacturers' title in the process, but it wasn't quite as easy as that.
Cunningham launched from the right hand lane of the standing start without incident, maintaining the first position. Meanwhile, in the left lane, Esayian was balked when one of the faster GT cars couldn't find a forward gear, stacking up all those runners behind. Fortunately, everyone safely navigated around the errant racer and carried on, albeit in a reshuffled order.
Esayian's No. 34 lost out in the drama to the third quickest GTS qualifier, Ernie Jakubowski, in a Porsche Cayman. The Acura gave chase for six tours of the twisty 2.258-mile circuit before finding a clean way by on Lap 7. The No. 43 of Cunningham kept its lead, surviving two full course cautions to take his third race win in a row.
The RealTime bunch were pleased with their results from Saturday, but they were faced with a new challenge. The post-race inspection of Esayian's mount found his motor not up to RealTime standards, so a precautionary engine change was necessitated. World Challenge rules require competitors to race with the same powerplant as they qualify with, so his second place starting position was disallowed and he was forced to start from last.
As the start lights were extinguished, this time it was the right lane's turn to have its issues. Cunningham made it through safely, but had to settle for second behind Jakubowski as the GTS leaders exited the first corner.
"I probably could have snatched the lead back a couple of times on the opening lap, but I decided to bide my time," Cunningham reported. "From there, the Porsche found its groove and made life more difficult and I couldn't find a way through."
Cunningham remained confident that it was only a matter of time before he'd figure things out, but when he looked in his mirrors after a handful of