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Jun 05, 2014 - 06:10 AM
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Teams, Drivers Prepared For Unique Weekend At Fast Kansas
Posted by: newsla on Jun 05, 2014 - 06:10 AM
Sports Cars
Teams, Drivers Prepared For Unique Weekend At Fast Kansas


A mix of mystery and excitement surrounds the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda as it resumes the 2014 season June 6-7 at Kansas Speedway.

 

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Rounds 3 and 4 of the season will take place Saturday, June 7 on the six-turn, 2.37-mile infield road course at Kansas, located in Kansas City, Kansas. Race 1 is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. (CT), followed by Race 2 under the lights at 10:15 p.m.

There are many reasons for intrigue and excitement surrounding this event.

It's the first time Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda cars will share the track with a different category. The Prototype Challenge (PC) class from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship also will speed around the same ribbon of asphalt for two of the three practice sessions Friday, June 6 and both races Saturday.

Top speeds at Kansas will reach approximately 175 mph for PC cars and 160 mph for Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda. PC cars and their ORECA FLM 09 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.

The Kansas circuit poses a unique, fast challenge for PC and Prototype Lites teams. The course uses nearly the entire, 1.5-mile banked oval known for annual NASCAR competition.

Testing has shown the PC and Prototype Lites cars will have similar performance in the tight infield complex of the combination road course-oval. But the biggest difference will come on the oval section of the course and under heavy braking, where PC cars will be quicker. So that will create racing scenarios - especially in traffic with PC cars - that will be an exciting new challenge for Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda drivers and teams.

Racing on the banked turns of the oval also will be unique for the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda competitors. The series does not race at the most prominent "roval" road course-oval event, the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona that opens the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season in January at Daytona International Speedway.

Another new experience for the series will be racing at night. The second race starts at 10:15 p.m., 90 minutes after sunset in the Kansas City area. The track's brilliant lighting system and the headlights on the Élan chassis will provide excellent visibility, but the cooler air and track temperatures of night could require teams to devise dual setups for the weekend - one that works during practices under the searing summer sun of Kansas and another that works in the cooler air and different humidity of evening.

Rounds 3 and 4 this weekend at Kansas also mark a return for the series after a 10-week hiatus since the season-opening races March 13-14 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, and the start of a busy summer stretch of three race weekends in the next six weeks.

Mikhail Goikhberg swept Rounds 1 and 2 at Sebring in his No. 10 JDC Motorsports entry, winning by 2.895 seconds over Craig Duerson in the first race and .545 of a second over Dalton Sargeant in the second race.

Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, will try to continue his flawless start to the season at Kansas. And his toughest competitor could be Duerson, one of his closest rivals from Sebring.

Duerson, 50, from Gulfport, Mississippi, is the top Masters Class (age 40 and over) driver in the series. He's also one of the top drivers of any age in the series, battling for the podium and overall victory in the No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports entry with competitors less than half his age. He earned two podium finishes at Sebring, second in Race 1 and third in Race 2, and is tied for second in the championship at 34 points.

It was an impressive start for Duerson, who moved to Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda this season after finishing as the top Platinum Masters competitor last season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, in which he achieved an overall victory at Road America.

Hayden Duerson and Matt McMurry also are among the group of young talents who could contend for the podium in both races Saturday at Kansas.

Duerson, 22, finished fourth in Race 1 at Sebring in the No. 39 Performance Tech Motorsports car - just 6.5 seconds behind his father, Craig Duerson. McMurry, 16, from Phoenix, finished fifth in Race 2 in the No. 16 car fielded by powerful Performance Tech Motorsports.

This weekend's races will be the final Stateside event for McMurry before he heads to France to race June 14-15 with Greaves Motorsport in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. McMurry will make history by becoming the youngest driver ever in the world's most prestigious sports car race, held annually since 1923.

Other top-10 overall finishers from Sebring who will race at Kansas include Christian Potolicchio (8Star Motorsports), Andrew Novich (Comprent Motor Sports), Robert Alon (Performance Tech Motorsports), Richard Fant (Ferrari of Houston Racing), and Tony Bullock and John Falb (One Motorsports).

Elan Delivered Its 49th and 50th DP02 chassis.
New Élan DP02 chassis nearing completion.

This race weekend at Kansas will be a milestone event for Élan Motorsports Technologies, the chassis manufacturer for Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda. The company's 49th and 50th DP02 race cars recently were delivered to new series team One Motorsports, and Todd Slusher will race one of the new cars at Kansas. Lee Alexander will race the other new car starting July 10-13 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, expanding One's lineup to four cars in the series.

Three practice sessions at Kansas take place at 4 p.m. (CT), 5:25 p.m. and 8:10 p.m. Friday, June 6, with a 20-minute qualifying session at 10:10 p.m. that evening. Two 45-minute races are scheduled for 4:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Saturday, June 7.

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