2009 was a milestone year for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Pro Racing Speed World Challenge series.
The championship was now in its 20th consecutive season. The SCCA had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans.
But the recession of 2008 was impacting car counts.
To add some excitement to qualifying, the series organizers introduced the Fast Five Coin Toss. A World Challenge official flipped a coin and the fastest qualifier would have to call, heads or tails. If they guessed correctly, the top five would line-up as they qualified. If not, the starting order would be inverted for the five quickest drivers.
Most race weekends included two standing start races with a time limit of 50-minutes. One event for the Grand Touring (GT) class and another for the Touring Cars (TC).
To prevent any driver/car combination from dominating the class and ensuring tight competition, the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. system was implemented. Introduced in 1995, R.E.W.A.R.D.S. is the acronym for ‘Rewarding of Equalizing Weight Assigned to Reduce Driver Sensitivity.' This weight equalization rule added or removed ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver. The maximum amount of weight that could be removed from a vehicle was 100-pounds. And, no more than 200-pounds could be added to a GT class car and 150-pounds to a Touring Car.
During the 2009 season, there were ten-races for each category. The Touring cars did not compete at Long Beach. However, they raced twice at Mosport Park. As in 2008, the opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida and the championship ended in October at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California.
Mosport International Raceway hosted rounds three and four of the 2009 Touring Car SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Championship. As the Touring class did not compete at Long Beach, an additional event was required to complete the ten-race schedule. Only eleven drivers were entered for the double-header weekend.
|The Touring Car grid for round four on Sunday at Mosport International Raceway. Sitting on the pole is the defending champion and team principal of RealTime Racing, Peter Cunningham, in the No. 1 Acura TSX. Starting beside Cunningham is the Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 of the points leader, Jason Saini. The second row is occupied by Saini’s teammate, Charles Espenlaub and Cunningham’s teammate, Pierre Kleinubing.|
|Kuno Wittmer wasdriving the No. 44 RealTime Racing Acura TSX won the weekend’s first event. Wittmer qualified second and jumped into the lead at the start of the race. The track was damp, but he had competed in the Canadian Touring Car contest and was familiar with the conditions. Wittmer pulled away from the field and won by a margin of 19.035-seconds. The following day, he was gridded seventh and finished sixth.|
|Qualifying fourth for the weekend’s first contest was title contender, Pierre Kleinubing. During race one, Kleinubing found himself in a terrific battle with Nick Wittmer for second place. On the final lap, he made a daring pass on Wittmer to grab the runner-up spot and earn the Autoweek Move of the Race award. On Sunday, the driver of the No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura TSX started fourth and finished in the fifth spot.|
|Nick Wittmer, younger brother of Kuno, made it World Challenge debut at Mosport International Raceway. Wittmer started at the rear of the field, but like his brother, he was familiar with the track conditions after participating in the Canadian Touring Car event. Wittmer moved to fourth place on the opening lap and would finish third, earning the Sunoco Hard Charger award. In round four, he finished seventh.|
|The 2009 round three SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge podium for the Touring Car class at Mosport. The top three finishers are from RealTime Racing. Standing in the center is the winner, Kuno Wittmer. To Wittmer’s right is the series five-time champion and runner-up, Pierre Kleinubing. The last position on the rostrum is occupied by Wittmer’s younger brother Nick, who made his World Challenge debut.|
|The start of round four for the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car category at Mosport International Speedway. Challenging the pole-sitter, Peter Cunningham, in the No. 1 RealTime Racing Acura TSX, is the third-place starter, Charles Espenlaub, driving the Mazdaspeed Mazda 6. Behind the leaders is the other front row starter, Jason Saini in a Mazda 6 and another Mazda driven by Eric Foss.|
|RealTime Racing team owner, Peter Cunningham, started the weekend’s first race in seventh place and was in fifth at the finish. On Sunday, Cunningham fared much better. He started on the pole and despite challenges from the Mazdaspeed teammates, Charles Espenlaub and Eric Foss, Cunningham led flag-to-flag to win by a margin of 0.564-seconds. This was his thirty-second victory in World Challenge competition.|
|Charles Espenlaub’s first and only World Challenge Touring Car victory, to date, came at Mosport International Raceway in 2005. Saturday’s damp conditions did not favour the driver of the No. 73 Mazdaspeed Mazda 6, Espenlaub started sixth and finished seventh. In round four, he challenged the race winner, Peter Cunningham, on the way to a runner-up result and set the fastest lap, earning Debaufre award.|
|Jason Saini entered and left Mosport International Raceway with the championship points lead intact. In round three, Saini chased the leading RealTime entries but could not maintain their pace and finished fourth. On Sunday, he started on the outside of the front row but lost positions to his teammates, Charles Espenlaub and Eric Foss. Saini moved into third when Foss went off course and held the spot to the finish.|
|Sunday’s SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium at Mosport International Raceway. Standing in the center is RealTime Racing’s, Peter Cunningham, who scored his thirty-second series victory. On the left side of the rostrum and capturing his best finish of the season is the runner-up, Charles Espenlaub. Completing the podium is last year’s rookie champion and the points leader, Jason Saini.|
|1||2||Kuno Wittmer||Acura TSX||28||-|
|2||4||Pierre Kleinubing||Acura TSX||28||-|
|3||11||Nick Wittmer||Acura TSX||28||-|
|4||5||Jason Saini||Mazda 6||28||-|
|5||7||Peter Cunningham||Acura TSX||28||-|
|6||1||Eric Foss||Mazda 6||28||-|
|7||6||Charles Espenlaub||Mazda 6||27||-|
|8||10||Toby Grahovec||Acura TSX||27||-|
|9||3||James Clay||BMW 328i||26||-|
|10||8||Seth Thomas||BMW 328i||25||-|
|11||9||Nick Esayian||BMW 328i||18||-|
|1||1||Peter Cunningham||Acura TSX||28||-|
|2||3||Charles Espenlaub||Mazda 6||28||-|
|3||2||Jason Saini||Mazda 6||28||-|
|4||8||Seth Thomas||BMW 328i||28||-|
|5||4||Pierre Kleinubing||Acura TSX||28||-|
|6||7||Kuno Wittmer||Acura TSX||28||-|
|7||11||Nick Wittmer||Acura TSX||28||-|
|8||10||Nick Esayian||BMW 328i||28||-|
|6||5||Eric Foss||Mazda 6||28||-|
|8||9||Toby Grahovec||Acura TSX||23||Mechanical|
|9||6||James Clay||BMW 328i||0||Mechanical|
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