Photo by John Thawley CANADA (July 7, 2007) Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec, captured his first-career pole position for Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship. Ian Baas, of Noblesville, Ind., also earned his series-best qualifying position and completes the front row for Sundays race on the streets of Exhibition Place, part of the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto.
Wittmer needed only a single lap in his No. 44 Acura Certified Pre-Owned Acura RSX to grab his first SCCA SPEED Touring Car pole. The Canadian stopped the clocks with a 1:20.601 (78.386 mph) around the 1.755-mile, 11-turn temporary street course.
It feels pretty good, Wittmer said. Home track advantage does help and the fans here are crazy. Definitely the RealTime boys put in a tremendous effort getting the car ready, so a big thanks to Acura, they did an excellent job putting the whole package together for the RSX today.
When comparing his Acura RSX to the TSX of his fellow RealTime teammates, Wittmer felt there were some distinct advantages to the RSX around the tight street-course.
Well its a two-door car compared to a four-door car, so the wheelbase is a bit shorter. I dont run the sequential gearbox, but Im 100 lbs. lighter and I dont have the restrictor. The TSX has shown to be a bit better on exit, but the RSX is better on entrance, so its a give and take. Both cars have their strengths and advantages, but right now the RSX is the way to go on this track.
Wittmers season so far has been a dramatic departure from his 2006 SPEED GT season, in which he struggle with mechanical gremlins throughout the year driving a Mercedes Benz C230.
This year, I have huge sponsor that came on board with me and thats Asset Engineering. They really came on board with me at the beginning of the year and theyre based out of Toronto so theyre really happy to see me perform. Last year was a tough year, but I had a good time and I learned a lot.
Wittmer was due to have his teammate Pierre Kleinubing in the No. 1 Acura Certified Pre-Owned Acura TSX starting alongside of him, but the defending SCCA SPEED Touring Car Champions qualifying time were disallowed following post-qualifying technical inspection for a front splitter that was too low.
This moved Baas into the second spot on the grid with a qualifying time of 1:20.842 (78.152 mph). It is a career-best grid position for the driver of the No. 18 PFAFF/STaSIS/Clear Capital Audi A4, who is looking forward to a front-row standing start in his all-wheel drive car.
Baas teammate Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., fills in the third spot on the grid. Winner at Lime Rock Park earlier this year, Herr entered a time of 1:20.846 (78.148 mph) in his No. 17 PFAFF/STaSIS/Clear Capital Audi A4.
Peter Cunningham, of Grafton, Wis., put his No. 42 Acura Certified Pre-Owned Acura TSX in the fourth spot on the grid with a time of 1:21.134 (77.871 mph). Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., completed the top five after turning a 1:21.166 (77.840 mph).
Teammates Randy Pobst (Mazda 6) and Jeff Altenburg (Mazda 6) will start sixth and seventh, respectively. Michael Galati (Mazda 6), Brandon Davis (Acura TSX) and Jason Martinelli (BMW 325Ci) completed the top ten.
Sundays SCCA SPEED Touring Car race is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. (EDT). The race will air on SPEED, Saturday, July 14, at 11:00 a.m. (EDT).
For the latest news from the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto, including live timing and lap notes via the SCCA Pit Board, visit www.world-challenge.com