DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 18, 2014) – Mikhail Goikhberg and Brian Alder both can clinch season championships at the next Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda event weekend, Aug. 22-24 at Virginia International Raceway.
Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, leads the Lites 1 class by 55 points – 156-101 – over Christian Potolicchio this weekend entering Rounds 11 and 12 of the 14-round season. Goikhberg needs to lead by 60 points after Round 11 Saturday or 40 points after Round 12 Sunday to secure his first championship.
Alder, from Marysville, Ohio, leads the Lites 2 class by 78 points over Jerome Mee and needs to start Round 11 to clinch his second consecutive L2 season title.
The coronation of Goikhberg and Alder could take place during a unique event weekend for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Development Series. This is the second time Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda will race concurrently on track with the Prototype Challenge (PC) class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, as the two championships first ran together in early June at Kansas Speedway.
Both races for Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda will be 45 minutes this weekend, an increase of 15 minutes for the first race of the weekend compared to events in which Prototype Lites run alone. Round 11 is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Aug. 23, with Round 12 at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 24.
Practice takes place Friday, Aug. 22, with qualifying at 10:50 a.m. Saturday on the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit at VIR.
Prototype Challenge and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda cars have similar top speeds, approximately 175 mph in PC and 170 mph for Prototype Lites. But PC cars and their ORECA FLM09 chassis are heavier, with a minimum weight of 1,990 pounds compared to the 1,175-pound Prototype Lites cars and their Élan DP02 chassis. PC cars also use a 6.2-liter, 430-horsepower Chevrolet LS3 V8 engine, while a 2-liter, 240-horsepower Mazda MZR four-cylinder engine powers the L1 division in Prototype Lites.
Goikhberg steam-rolled his competition from March through June, winning five of the first six rounds in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports entry. But he has appeared mortal in the last four rounds, with a pair of non-scoring results bookending a runner-up finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in mid-July and victory two weeks ago at Road America. Still, Goikhberg has led the championship standings for the entire season in a tour de force since opening with two victories in March at Sebring International Raceway.
Potolicchio, from Hallandale Beach, Florida, is the hottest driver in the series. He has 62 points combined in the last four rounds in the No. 2 8Star Motorsports entry, more than any other driver, including a second-place and two third-place finishes. He will seek his first victory of the season at VIR.
Andrew Novich, from Novato, California, broke through for his first victory of the season Aug. 10 at Road America in the No. 61 Comprent Motor Sports car. That victory launched Novich into third in the standings, four points behind Potolicchio and three ahead of third-place Robert Alon.
Alon, from Encino, California, is at the heart of a four-car race for second place in the standings. He has two runner-up finishes and has scored 94 points this season in the No. 9 Performance Tech Motorsports entry.
His teammate, Craig Duerson, is fifth in the standings with 88 points in the No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. Masters (age 40 and older) standout Duerson, from Gulfport, Mississippi, opened the season with four consecutive overall podium finishes.
Duerson also remains locked in a tight battle for the Masters championship with John Falb of ONE Motorsports. Falb leads Duerson, 143-126, with two victories and consistent finishes in the No. 77 entry. Duerson has five Masters victories this season but also has been hurt by four finishes scoring 10 points or less in the last six rounds due to a variety of misfortunes.
Lamont Harris and Don Yount also remain contenders for the Masters title. Harris, from Palm Beach, Florida, is third with 122 points in the No. 65 8Star Motorsports entry. Yount, from Houston, is fourth with 120 points in the No. 28 Yount Motorsports car.
Yount is surging toward the end of the season in his single-car team. He finished second and third in Masters two weeks ago at Road America, his first podium results since early June at Kansas Speedway.
The Lites 1 Team Championship also remains tense and tight. JDC Motorsports leads with 182 points, 26 ahead of the tied second-place tandem of 8Star Motorsports and Performance Tech Motorsports. ONE Motorsports is fourth with 136 points, with Comprent Motor Sports fifth with 128.
Brian Alder has finished first or second in Lites 2 in all 10 races this season in his No. 22 BAR1 Motorsports entry.
Alder and his BAR1 Motorsports team have dominated the Lites 2 class all season, with seven victories and three runner-up finishes in 10 rounds. But Todd Slusher earned his first career Lites 2 victory Aug. 9 at Road America in the No. 62 ONE Motorsports entry.
For live updates on all the action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.
For more information about Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #CTPL @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda: The two classes of competition in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series take drivers and teams down unique, exciting roads of prototype sports car racing. Nimble, high-tech, purpose-built Lites 1 machines pack in the power with a 230-horsepower, 2-liter Mazda engine designed to prepare aspiring professionals for prototype competition in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Equally capable and affordable Lites 2 machines offer world-class competition for semi-professional drivers. Both formulas take competition to the next level, producing thrilling, high-speed action at premier venues across North America.
IMSA: The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the road-racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, Ferrari Challenge North America and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
From: Paul Kelly/ Grand Solutions
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