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Jun 25, 2014 - 04:51 PM
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Leader Goikhberg Looks To Hold Off Familiar, New Challengers at Watkins Glen
Posted by: newsla on Jun 25, 2014 - 04:43 PM
Sports Cars
Leader Goikhberg Looks To Hold Off Familiar, New Challengers at Watkins Glen


The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda is settling into a crucial summer stretch of eight rounds in four events over the next nine weeks.

 

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That vital span starts June 26-28 at Watkins Glen International - the first time the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Development Series has competed at the famous track - and will feature the next two rounds in an intriguing fight for the championship among three drivers with different backgrounds and experience in the series.

Mikhail Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, leads the series by 10 points over Craig Duerson after winning three of the first four rounds in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports entry.

Goikhberg, 27, finished a close third in the championship in 2013 and entered this season as the title favorite after series champion Sean Rayhall graduated to the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and runner-up Ryan Booth moved to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires junior open-wheel series.

Craig Duerson Kansas
Craig Duerson is second in the overall standings and is dominating the Masters' Championship.
Duerson, 50, from Gulfport, Mississippi, remains Goikhberg's toughest foe this season. He has finished on the podium in all four rounds in the No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports entry and earlier this month at Kansas Speedway became the first Masters (age 40 and older) competitor to win an overall pole in the series since September 2012.

This is Duerson's first season in the series, as he won the Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) championship last season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama before moving this year to the open-cockpit Prototype Lites cars with his son Hayden Duerson.

Tony Bullock also emerged at Kansas as a contender for the championship as a series rookie. Bullock, from Auburn, California, earned his first Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda victory in Round 3 at Kansas in the No. 12 car fielded by series newcomer ONE Motorsports.

The strong weekend at Kansas helped Bullock climb to third in the championship with 50 points, 28 behind leader Goikhberg.

Robert Alon has used consistency to climb to fifth in the overall standings in the No. 9 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. Alon, from Encino, California, has finished in the top 10 in all four rounds this season.

A new face to the series but a familiar name to IMSA sports car racing could shake up the running order this weekend at the historic track in upstate New York.

2013 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama champion Madison Snow will make his Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda debut in the No. 29 Mazda-powered √Član DP02 chassis fielded by standout TUDOR United SportsCar Championship team Extreme Speed Motorsports.

Snow, 18, from Lehi, Utah, climbed this season to the GT Daytona class of the TUDOR Championship after winning the Porsche GT3 USA title last season with seven victories in 16 starts. He will perform double-duty at Watkins Glen, also racing in the GTD class of the marquee Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, co-driving a Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT America with Jan Heylen.

Another talented rookie will continue at Watkins Glen but with a new address.

Rising young star Matt McMurry, from Phoenix, will drive the No. 20 JDC Motorsports entry as the teammate of Goikhberg and Masters competitor Gerry Kraut. McMurry is 13th in the standings after four rounds but showed speed in March at Sebring International Raceway and earlier this month at Kansas Speedway.

McMurry, 16, made history June 14-15 by becoming the youngest driver in the 91-year history of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving an LMP2 prototype for British team Greaves Motorsport.

Duerson is the runaway leader in the Masters Class, but just 15 points separate second-place Richard Fant from sixth-place John Falb in the division.

Masters competitor Michal Chlumecky will make his series season debut this weekend with the No. 31 entry fielded by longtime Prototype Lites stalwart Eurosport Racing.

Brian Alder Kansas
Brian Alder has won the L2 class in all four rounds this season.
The Lites 2 class is growing at this event with the return of Jerome Mee in the No. 95 Alta Velocita Racing entry, Ludovico Manfredi in the No. 30 ANSA Motorsports entry and the season debut of Guy Laporte in the No. 68 Quorum Racing/Performance Tech car. They will try to slow the charge of Brian Alder, who has won L2 class honors in all four rounds this season in the No. 22 BAR 1 Motorsports entry.

Practice starts at 8:40 a.m. (ET) and 12:20 p.m. Thursday, June 26 on the 11-turn, 3.4-mile historic circuit at Watkins Glen. Qualifying starts at 9 a.m. Friday, July 27, with the 30-minute Round 5 of the season taking the green flag at 2:15 p.m. that afternoon. Round 6, a 45-minute race, starts at 8:10 a.m. Saturday, June 28.


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