Clunie ends racing season with a win

Tyler Clarke
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With less than half a second to spare, local sports car racer Jayson Clunie capped his first full race season with a second win. 

Prince Albert sports car racer Jayson Clunie is seen being interviewed for SPEED TV for a segment that will air at 12 p.m.  on Oct. 13. 

With less than half a second to spare, local sports car racer Jayson Clunie capped his first full race season with a second win.

Clunie joined his Brazilian race partner Pierre Kleinubing on Friday to win the 2012 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge ST Team Championship at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

The race marks the duo’s second win of the season, the other being his first race of the season, at the Daytona International Speedway in February. The duo has also clock in two second-place finishes.

“Not many people can pull off the drive you did, in those conditions and under that pressure,” Clunie’s manager Michael Duncalfe told Clunie during a conference call this week, of Friday’s finish.

Back home in Prince Albert, Clunie reflected on the race as not his biggest, but his most significant win so far in his sports car racing career — the Daytona being his biggest.

“There was a lot of pressure,” he said of the Lime Rock Park race.

Though the pressure wasn’t placed on him intentionally by any of the parties, he wanted to do well for Mazda, i-MOTO Racing, Exclusive Management — but most of all to Kleinubing, who was charged with completing the race.

“My job’s to give Pierre a good car, in good shape, so that he’s got something good to finish with,” Clunie said.

The race started off with the qualifier getting rained out, meaning championship points dictated starting order. Clunie and Kleinubing’s Mazdaspeed3 started second.

As the duo’s qualifier, Clunie started the race surrounded by a pack of roaring vehicles heralded manly by drivers familiar with the track.

This was Clunie’s first time at Lime Rock Park — an experience made even more difficult due to persistent rain.

“I didn’t want to be over-aggressive at the start, with the wet conditions,” he said. “All the cars behind us, of course, were in our spray.”

Not allowed to pass the driver in first until they’d crossed the starting line, his initial goal was keeping on his tail as closely as possible while putting as much space between the duo and the rest of the racers as possible.

“I got through turn one nice and clean, and essentially myself and the first place guy pulled a gap from third, and we paced ourselves,” Clunie said.

After hitting lap traffic, the Mazdaspeed3 came into contact with another racer, bending the vehicle’s toe. He slowed the vehicle down a bit so he could feel out how it had affected the car.

“I lost a couple positions after we made some contact,” Clunie said. “What matters now is the finish, not losing a couple of positions.”

After about an hour into the hour and a half race, Clunie entered a pit stop where he passed the vehicle to Kleinubing.

Every lap, you can go from completely defeated to elated. In three seconds, your mood changes in the car. Jayson Clunie

Although rain persisted throughout Clunie’s run, Kleinubing came into some better weather, allowing the car to improve his speeds.

Bumper to bumper for the final few laps, Kleinubing ended up taking the duo to victory by less than half of a second — an exciting finish that will air on SPEED TV on Oct. 13 beginning at noon.

Looking back on not only the Lime Rock Park race but also the season as a whole, of which he raced in eight of 11 events, Clunie cites the key lesson learned is to not get discouraged.

“You have to believe that from day one in racing — there are so many ups and downs,” he said.

“Every lap, you can go from completely defeated to elated. In three seconds, your mood changes in the car.”

Although the season came with its successes, Clunie notes a number of discouraging runs, which include a flat tire in one race’s closing minutes, an accident bending the car’s steering, and another race breaking the vehicle’s axle.

“It puts you down,” Clunie said. “Any mistake you make — anything that happens, you lose ground to the leaders.”

The next season for the Grand-Am Continental Sports Car Challenge kicks off on Oct. 25 with a vehicle test in Kansas, where a team of people will join Clunie and Kleinubing in making sure the Mazdaspeed3 they race is in tip top shape.

“You don’t just go buy a race car and go racing,” Clunie noted, adding that he doesn’t own a racing car, he just drives one. “It’s a real team effort.”

The first race will take place at the Kansas Motor Speedway in November, and barring unforeseen scheduling conflicts, Clunie plans on racing in all of the season’s events, which take place throughout North America, though mainly in the United States.

Clunie began racing stock cars in 1998, moving on to karts in 2001 after getting linked up with the sport in Saskatoon, continuing with karts for about 10 years.

Moving to cars in 2009, focusing in on sports cars by 2011.

Sports car racing utilizes vehicles that look like models that people are able to purchase at their dealership, but specialized to go up to 170 mph — not that they ever reach these speeds.

“Because it’s road racing you never really get to wind them out … There’s always a corner coming,” Clunie said.

In 2011, Clunie was named Mazdaspeed Rookie of the Year, and was subsequently asked to test with i-MOTO Racing in their Mazdaspeed3. Following a successful test, he entered the 2012 season that wrapped up on Friday. 

Organizations: Daytona International Speedway, Mazda, Kansas Motor Speedway

Geographic location: Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Prince Albert Kansas North America United States Saskatoon

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Recent comments

  • Ron Horn
    October 04, 2012 - 11:09

    Congratulations Jayson We know how you love your pedal/bar machine as much as your pedal/wheel machine. Well deserved win. Pit Crew FAE