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Jul 09, 2014 - 03:42 PM
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Leader Goikhberg Aims To Continue Near-Perfect Season
Posted by: newsla on Jul 09, 2014 - 03:35 PM
Sports Cars
Leader Goikhberg Aims To Continue Near-Perfect Season At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

There's a simple question surrounding the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda as it speeds toward the halfway point of its 2014 season.


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Can anyone stop Mikhail Goikhberg?

Goikhberg has been almost perfect through six of 14 rounds this season in the International Motor Sports Association Development Series, dropping just two of 120 available points. He has won five races, with the only blemish a runner-up finish to Tony Bullock in Round 3 in early June at Kansas Speedway.

That impressive march through a talented field could continue July 10-13 for Rounds 7 and 8 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. It's the only Canadian visit of the season for the series. Goikhberg lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia, so a victory in Canada would be sweet 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.

But Goikhberg didn't finish on the podium in either round last season at CTMP, a score he hopes to settle this weekend.

Goikhberg's closest competitor this season is Craig Duerson, 50, from Gulfport, Mississippi. Duerson has finished on the podium in four of six rounds this season but was scoreless in the No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports entry at the last event, in late June at Watkins Glen. He is second in points with 68.

Duerson boasts plenty of speed, as in early June he 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.

Bullock has shown skill and speed during his rookie season, vindicating his decision to climb from SCCA competition to the ultra-competitive IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda with his victory at Kansas in the No. 12 car fielded by fellow series newcomer ONE Motorsports. Bullock, from Auburn, California, is third in the championship with 64 points.

Consistency has helped Robert Alon climb into fourth in the standings with 58 points in the No. 9 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. Alon, from Encino, California, has finished in the top 10 in five of the six rounds this season, including second place in Round 5 at Watkins Glen.

Two Canadian residents besides Goikhberg will line up on the starting grid at CTMP, Canada's most prestigious natural road circuit, which features 10 turns on an undulating, fast, 2.459-mile layout.

Veteran Masters competitor Michal Chumlecky, from Windsor, Ontario, returned to the series last month at Watkins Glen and will continue at his home track in the No. 31 Eurosport Racing entry.

Guy Laporte, from Montreal, will make his third and fourth starts of the season in the No. 68 Quorum Racing/Performance Tech √Član DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine. Laporte made his season debut last month at Watkins Glen.

A face that thrilled fans last season at CTMP in another series will race this weekend in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda.

2013 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama champion Madison Snow will continue in the series in the No. 29 car fielded by standout TUDOR United SportsCar Championship team Extreme Speed Motorsports after making his series debut last month at Watkins Glen.

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 created a magic memory in GT3 USA competition last July at CTMP, edging Angel Benitez Jr. by .011 of a second for victory in one of the most thrilling duels in series history.

Another talented rookie will continue at CTMP at his new address.

Rising young star Matt McMurry, from Phoenix, will drive the No. 20 JDC Motorsports entry as the teammate of Goikhberg. McMurry is 12th in the standings - just 10 points out of sixth -- after six rounds. He joined JDC last month at Watkins Glen.

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.

The new ONE Motorsports team will expand to four drivers at this event. SCCA veteran Lee Alexander, from Las Vegas, will drive the No. 48 entry, joining Bullock, Masters title contender John Falb and Todd Slusher at ONE.

Brian Alder, from Marysville, Ohio, has dominated the Lites 2 class in his No. 22 BAR 1 Motorsports entry this season, winning the first four rounds of the season. But Jerome Mee, from Bellaire, Texas, stopped that streak with a victory in Round 5 last month at Watkins Glen and will challenge Alder again at CTMP in the No. 95 Alta Velocita Racing entry.

Practice starts at 9 a.m. (ET) Thursday, July 10, continuing at 9:45 a.m. July 11. Qualifying starts at 3:40 p.m. Friday, July 11. The 30-minute Round 7 of the season takes the green flag at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, July 12. Round 8, a 45-minute race, starts at 9:50 a.m. Sunday, July 13.

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