SCCA: Cunningham Cruises to World Challenge T1 Class Victory at Grand Rapids
27 July 1998GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Peter Cunningham, in the No. 42 RealTime Racing/Comptech Acura NSX, dominated the 40-lap, 63.20-mile World Challenge T1 race at the West Michigan Grand Prix by 36.64 seconds over Terry Borcheller, in the No. 56 Saleen Allen Racing Saleen Mustang.
"If our car didn't run well here, it wasn't going to run well anywhere," said Cunningham. "The strength of this car is handling and braking. The handling came to us after the first couple of laps and the car was awesome to the end."
Borcheller led the 58:25.873 race early but Cunningham was quickly dueling for the top spot. The two battled bumper-to-bumper before Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., out-maneuvered Borcheller going into Turn One on lap 15 at the Scott Brayton Memorial Street Circuit to take a lead that he would never relinquish.
"The car was good all day, but we never really got into the rhythm of the course," said Borcheller. "Once Peter had built up his lead, I was trying to save the car in case a yellow bunched us up again. Even still, I lost the blower in my helmet and the heat was intense -- I was really feeling it at the end."
Meanwhile, Thomas Safar II, in the TSUNANI Racing/Hidden Creek Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, made a hard charge through the field from his 13th-place starting position to take over fourth place on lap 13.
"I did a lot of work on the car this year to make it competitive," said Safar II. "We were down for qualifying, but worked the problem out. I was able to keep the tires and brakes throughout the race which really helped."
While Cunningham drove away from Borcheller, Neil Hannemann, in the No. 31 Viper Speed Dodge Viper, raced comfortably in third. Hannemann may have become too comfortable, however, on the tight, technical street circuit as he spun on lap 26 and gave up the third position to the charging Safar II.
Hannemann and Safar II battled back and forth for the remainder of the race with Safar II making the final pass on lap 37 to grab the final podium position. Hannemann finished fourth followed by the No. 7 Kurlin/Applebee's Porsche 911 of Jeff Conkel. Home Improvement star Tim Allen, making his 1998 debut in the No. 5 Saleen Allen Racing Saleen Mustang, put in 25 hard laps before retiring with a mechanical problem.
After three racew, Ron Johnson leads the World Challenge Drivers' Championship point standings with 128 points, followed by Terry Borcheller (114), Peter Cunningham (111), Chris Wiehle (82) and David Schardt (73).