Esayian Takes First Pro Win
September 13, 2010—Alton, VA
Rounds 10 and 11 of the World Challenge Championship took place at the demanding VIRginia International Raceway, and the RealTime Acura brigade put the icing on the cake that is the 2010 season. With Acura having already been crowned the GTS Category Manufacturers’ Champions, it was a shootout between drivers Peter Cunningham and Nick Esayian for the Drivers’ title.
With only one event remaining in the 12-race championship after the conclusion of the VIR weekend, Esayian knew he had to score as many points as he could to keep his title hopes alive, and as it turned out, he did just that by scoring his maiden professional race victory on Saturday.
Cunningham’s Acura TSX had led Round 10 from the standing start, but was slowed due to a rare mechanical glitch on the final lap, within sight of the checkered flag. His day was still salvaged with a fourth place result.
Esayian’s matching RealTime Acura was wrapped up in a race-long battle with Ernie Jakobowski’s Porsche Cayman in treacherous conditions. As the rain began to gently fall about mid-way through the 21-lap contest, all the World Challenge drivers did their best to stay on the road.
In the end, Esayain crossed the line in lockstep with Jakobowski, but the Acura driver was declared the winner when the Porsche was determined to have a noncompliant ride height.
RealTime fielded a third Acura TSX this weekend for Tommy Sadler. Sadler’s real life job is Crew Chief for the Flying Lizards, the highly successful American Le Mans team of Porsche 911s. The Lizards are the defending GT2 Champions and hold a significant lead in the 2010 fight with only one event remaining.
Sadler is originally from the Danville, Virginia area and he took advantage of a break in his schedule to come and play with the Acura boys. He methodically came up to speed through the test and practice days, and then qualified fifth. In his World Challenge debut, he kept his nose clean in the changing track conditions and finished an impressive third place!
When the World Challenge cars qualified on Sunday morning for Round 11, the skies were sunny and the ambient temperature was not yet boiling. Cunningham laid down a lap slightly quicker than he had in qualifying on Saturday to take his 41st career pole position.
As the race got underway later in the afternoon, the teams faced hot and sticky conditions on a track that didn’t feel that much grippier than it did when it was sprinkling the day before.
Cunningham led the GTS field into the first corner, with Esayian close behind in second. With his sixth World Challenge Championship on the line, Cunningham inched away from Esayian and all the rest, his only scare coming late in the going when a full course caution erased his sizable lead.
After the restart, the order didn’t change, and Cunningham earned enough points to ice the 2010 GTS Drivers’ Championship.
Esayian finished second, his ninth top-three result in the 11 races held thus far.
With this weekend’s victory and second place results, Esayian is assured of finishing second to Cunningham in the 2010 points tally.
Sadler’s run on Sunday started out on the wrong foot when he got caught up in a tussle on the way to the first corner. With the right side of the car looking quite disheveled, he limped around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit for a pair of right side tires and a few hammer hits and returned to fray, albeit one lap down from the leaders.
The World Challenge Series concludes its 21st season at Miller Motorsports Park, near Salt Lake City, on October 1-3.
A two-hour broadcast that will highlight the VIR weekend’s races will air on VERSUS on October 30th at 3:00p Eastern. The special two-hour season recap show will also feature the Miller finale race.
The RealTime Racing team is sponsored by Acura Motorsports, Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, A-SPEC, BOSCH, and Total Auto Body.