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Mar 11, 2014 - 04:47 PM
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Fierce Fight Expected To Start In Overall, Masters Classes At Historic Sebring
Posted by: newsla on Mar 11, 2014 - 04:44 PM
Sports Cars
Fierce Fight Expected To Start In Overall, Masters Classes At Historic Sebring


Five of the top 10 drivers in the 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda overall standings are back in the series in 2014.

 

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Three of those top returnees are Masters Class (40 and over) competitors, highlighting the intense racing for class championships that occurs in IMSA's Development Series among young, aspiring talent and older drivers.

The 2014 season starts with two rounds March 13-14 at Sebring International Raceway. The 30-minute and 45-minute races will take place on the historic, 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida weekend.

Mikhail Goikhberg is the top returning driver from last year after finishing third in the standings behind the tight race for the title between champion Sean Rayhall and runner-up Ryan Booth. Rayhall has climbed to a Prototype Challenge ride with BAR1 Motorsports in the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Goikhberg, from Vancouver, British Columbia, is back with JDC Motorsport with teammate and Masters standout Gerry Kraut, who finished ninth in the overall standings last season.

Jon Brownson Leads Into Corner In 2013 At SebringAnother leading top-10 driver back this season is 2013 Masters Champion Jon Brownson, who finished fifth overall last year with Eurosport Racing. Brownson has moved to 2013 Team Champion Performance Tech Motorsports, which is fielding five cars at Sebring.

Performance Tech also is fielding cars for father-and-son tandem Craig Duerson and Hayden Duerson. Craig is moving to Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda this year after winning the Platinum Cup Masters title in 2013 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.

8Star Motorsports returns Christian Potolicchio, who finished sixth overall last season, for one of its four entries. But perhaps the most watched driver in the 8Star paddock - and in the series - could be rookie Dalton Sargeant.

Sargeant led testing Feb. 24-25 at Sebring with a top lap of 1:59.251, the only driver to break the two-minute barrier. 2011 Rotax Max Challenge United States Grand Nationals karting champion Sargeant, 15, is receiving coaching from TUDOR United SportsCar Championship standout Ozz Negri.

Also driving for 8Star are Masters competitor Lamont Harris, who finished eighth overall last season for Comprent Motor Sports, and series newcomer Daniel Conway.

Comprent fell just 11 points shy of rival Performance Tech in the Team Championship last season but will mount another challenge for the title with rookie Andrew Novich and returning Masters racer Darryl Shoff.

Masters competitors Richard Fant and Owen Kratz return to lead Ferrari of Houston this season.

Longtime SCCA and Radical team One Motorsports is joining the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda this season with three cars at Sebring. Tony Bullock and Masters racers John Falb and Todd Slusher, all veterans of the team, will drive. A fourth entry for 2013 SCCA Runoffs champion Lee Alexander is planned for later this season.

Practice at Sebring starts Wednesday, March 12, with qualifying at 9:20 a.m. (ET) Thursday, March 13. A 30-minute race is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, with a 45-minute race at 11:15 a.m. Friday, March 14. For live updates on all the action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.

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