Acura TLX GT Earns First World Challenge Win on Streets of St. Petersburg
Ryan Eversley earns his first Pirelli World Challenge GT Victory
Acura’s first World Challenge GT win with All-Wheel Drive TLX
Eversley wins pole for Saturday’s race
RealTime Racing Claims 86th victory
Ryan Eversley backed up a pole-winning performance in the rain on Friday with a strong performance in Saturday’s sunshine to claim the first Pirelli World Challenge GT class win for the Acura TLX GT program.
Eversley carried the #43 RealTime Racing Acura TLX GT from the top spot on the grid to the top step of podium Saturday, holding off a hard charge from Ryan Dalziel’s Porsche over a fierce mid-race period to win Saturday’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“To win anywhere is awesome, but to win here in the Pirelli World Challenge Series is awesome and to be able to do it in the factory Acura team is literally a dream come true,” Eversley said. “Racing against factory drivers from so many manufacturers, to compete against those guys is amazing.”
The victory was the first for Eversley in the GT series and the 86th in the long history of RealTime Racing – 85 of which have come in Acura and Honda products. The win is the first in World Challenge GT competition for Acura since Cunningham claimed the 2012 event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Cunningham made up three spots from his grid position to finish 11th in Saturday’s race, and then followed that on Sunday by climbing from 22nd on the grid to place 14th. Eversley started eighth in the second race and ended up seventh.
“We’re pretty happy with the results,” Cunningham said. “We knew that it was going to be a tough track to pass on and there’d be a chance for some weird stuff to happen, but both cars made it through to the other side and moved up from their starting positions.”
The stage was set for Saturday’s win with a strong performance in qualifying, where Eversley fought through the rain to take his first series pole with a time of 1:23.434 – which was more than a half-second ahead of the second-placed McLaren 650S of Kevin Estre.
A four-car crash negated a great start by Eversley in Saturday’s race, forcing him to lead the field behind the Pace Car for the first 10 laps. Eversley was up to the task on the Lap 11 restart and kept the lead ahead of constant pressure from Dalziel, fending off numerous passing attempts through the next 10 laps. The race was sealed on Lap 21 when a crash necessitated a lengthy yellow flag and caused the race to being completed under caution.
The series will resume April 17-19, when the Pirelli World Challenge runs a doubleheader weekend as part of the Grand Prix of Long Beach event on the street course in Long Beach, California.
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 TLX , and will utilize all-wheel drive, as found in Acura’s SH-AWD system.
Video News Releases from this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge events at St. Petersburg are being posted on a specially created “Honda Racing/ HPD Trackside” YouTube channel produced by the Carolinas Production Group. CPG will be providing video highlights packages following Honda Racing/ HPD events during 2015. The video packages can be found at https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV .
Race Results Saturday:
|1||GT||Ryan Eversley||RealTime Racing||Acura TLX GT||26 Laps|
|2||GT||Ryan Dalziel||EFFORT Racing||Porsche 911 GT3R||Under Caution|
|3||GT||Mike Skeen||CRP Racing||Audi R8 LMS Ultra|
|4||GT||Johnny O’Connell||Cadillac Racing||Cadillac ATS-VR GT3R|
|5||GT||Kevin Estre||K-PAX Racing||McLaren 650S GT3|
|11||GT||Peter Cunningham||RealTime Racing||Acura TLX GT|
Ryan Eversley (driver, #43 RealTime Racing Acura TLX GT, started and finished first Saturday, started 8th, finished seventh in Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge race): I can’t really believe how well the weekend went. To come home with a top seven and a win gets us some good points and good data for the guys to look over. PD [Cunningham] had a solid result today, as well. Great results for both cars, and we’re really looking forward to Long Beach.
Peter Cunningham (owner/driver, #42 RealTime Racing Acura TLX GT; started 14th, finished 11th on Saturday, started 22nd, finished 14th on Sunday): “The cars are working really well. They’re not exactly where we need them to be, but we continue to work hard and are very pleased with where we are in this amazing group of cars. We’re pretty happy with the results.”
Lee Niffenegger (Team Leader, Acura Motorsports): “It’s really difficult to pass on this street course and Ryan [Eversley] did everything he needed to do to keep [Ryan] Dalziel behind him. Dalziel was trying a bunch of different things and couldn’t find a way by. We’ve been working with the car, making it better every session, and the guys did a great job during the race.”