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New Champions Goikhberg, Alder Pull Off Weekend Sweep With Wins At VIR
Posted by: newsla on Aug 25, 2014 - 06:17 AM
Sports Cars
New Champions Goikhberg, Alder Pull Off Weekend Sweep With Wins At VIR


Mikhail Goikhberg and Brian Alder celebrated their freshly minted championships with victories in Round 12 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda on Sunday at Virginia International Raceway, pulling off a weekend sweep.

 

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Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, earned his eighth victory of the season in the No. 10 JDC Motorsports entry a day after clinching his first Lites 1 championship with a victory in Round 11.

"I'm going to cherish these moments because winning feels good every time," Goikhberg said. "It doesn't get old. It's been a great season, and we just want to keep winning."

Alder, from Marysville, Ohio, won again after sealing his second consecutive Lites 2 season title Saturday with a victory in the No. 22 BAR1 Motorsports entry.

The 45-minute race ended under caution when Prototype Challenge driver Bruno Junqueira spun and crashed into the barrier with six minutes remaining. This was the second event of the season in which the PC cars of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Prototype Lites - an IMSA Development Series - raced simultaneously.

2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda champion Sean Rayhall teamed with Luis Diaz to win overall honors in the PC class in an 8Star Motorsports entry. Rayhall won the first segment Saturday.

JDC Motorsports earned the first two spots on the Prototype Lites podium Sunday. Matt McMurry, from Phoenix, finished second in the team's No. 20 car to equal his season-best finish. McMurry, 16, finished third in Round 11 Saturday.

Andrew Novich, from Novato, California, earned his second podium finish of the weekend by placing third in the No. 61 Comprent Motor Sports √Član DP02 chassis powered by a Mazda engine. Novich finished second to Goikhberg in Round 11 Saturday.

Christian Potolicchio, from Hallandale Beach, Florida, rebounded from a ninth-place finish Saturday to earn fourth in the No. 4 8Star Motorsports car. John Falb, from Las Vegas, rounded out the top five in the No. 77 ONE Motorsports entry and was the first finisher in Masters (drivers 40 and older) competition.

Goikhberg showed his diverse skills in both victories this weekend. He climbed from the third starting spot, passing McMurry for the lead with nine minutes remaining on an outside inside move in Turn 3.

McMurry led Novich by 5.553 seconds with 20 minutes remaining as he sought his first victory in the series. But Goikhberg's car came alive in the closing laps, including a Lites 1 race lap record of 1 minute, 45.235 seconds. He passed Novich for second with 15 minutes left and then pulled to within 1.113 seconds of McMurry with 10 minutes left before making his winning pass one lap later.

Then Goikhberg's victory was secured when Junqueira crashed, forcing the race to end under caution.

"Today was just a good, solid race," Goikhberg said. "I didn't have the pressure to win, but there are still my own expectations. I slowly felt the car pick up pace toward the middle of the race, and then it was attack mode from then on."

The route to victory for Goikhberg was a contrast from Saturday, when Goikhberg passed pole sitter Novich early in the race and led the rest of the way despite intense final-lap pressure from Novich on the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit.

Said McMurry: "The first half of the race we just kept increasing the lead. And then I saw Mikhail in my mirrors, and I was thinking, 'Who the heck caught up to me?' I made a mistake in (Turn) 2, and he was able to catch up to me and then he took me in Turn 3. And then there was the yellow right after that to the checkers, so I didn't have a chance to get him back."

Masters

Falb rebounded from an early exit in Round 11 Saturday to earn his fourth Lites 1 Masters victory in the No. 77 ONE Motorsports entry.

The victory helped Falb open a 19-point lead in the Masters championship over Don Yount with two rounds remaining Oct. 2-3 at Road Atlanta.

"I'm definitely focused on it," Falb said of the championship. "I've been to Road Atlanta quite a few times, so I'm really excited about spending some time in the race car in October at Petit Le Mans and all of the excitement that goes on around that event. I certainly will be looking to bring home the championship."

Michal Chlumecky, from Windsor, Ontario, earned his second runner-up Masters finish of the weekend in the No. 31 Eurosport Racing entry. He trailed closely behind Junqueira when the Brazilian crashed to trigger the race-ending caution, and Chlumecky deftly drove through the grass to avoid the mishap.

Yount, from Dallas, earned his second third-place finish of the weekend to climb to second in the Masters standings. It was his sixth Masters podium finish of the season.

Round 11 Masters winner Enzo Potolicchio led the first half of the race in the No. 4 8Star Motorsports entry, with Falb constantly stalking within a second. But Potolicchio suffered a mechanical problem on the back straight about halfway through the race that eliminated him from the event, and Falb sped past for the lead that he never relinquished.

Falb was quick to pay tribute to his ONE Motorsports crew, which worked deep into the darkness Saturday to repair Falb's car after he went off track in Round 11.

"The guys had a lot of work to do last night," Falb said. "I tore the whole front end off in the race yesterday, bouncing across the track and spreading parts everywhere. They quickly got the spares out, and they were working until the wee hours with the floodlights on it. They put it on the setup pad this morning, and I went out and practiced, and the car felt great. So it was like they didn't skip a beat."

Lites 2

Alder capitalized on troubles suffered by Lites 2 competitor Todd Slusher to earn his ninth Lites 2 victory of the season. He has finished first or second in Lites 2 in all 12 rounds this season.

Slusher, from Las Vegas, led by 13.680 seconds with 16 minutes remaining in the 45-minute race. He was cruising, including turning a L2 class race lap record of 1:48.160. But his No. 62 ONE Motorsports entry slowed quickly with 14 minutes left, forcing him into the pits and opening the lead for Alder.

"Todd (Slusher) had us on overall lap time, but unfortunately he had a mechanical issue and to finish first you must first finish. This one's for the crew. They put a reliable car together, and I was able to bring it home on top."

John Salmon, from nearby Lynchburg, Virginia, finished second in the No. 46 V.I.P.E.R. entry after placing third in Round 11 Saturday in his series season debut.

Slusher ended up third to pull to within 10 points of Jerome Mee - who didn't race this weekend - in the L2 Masters championship.

Up Next

Rounds 13 and 14 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda championship are scheduled for Oct. 2-3 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. They are the final two rounds of the 2014 season.

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. For live updates on all the on-track action, follow @IMSALive on Twitter.

ROUND 12 POST-RACE QUOTES:

MIKHAIL GOIKHBERG (No.10 JDC Motorsports, winner): "I'm going to cherish these moments because winning feels good every time. It doesn't get old. It's been a great season, and we just want to keep winning. Today was just a good, solid race. I didn't have the pressure to win, but there are still my own expectations. I slowly felt the car pick up pace toward the middle of the race, and then it was attack mode from then on. About halfway through the race, I had some pressure from Matt (McMurry), and so I'm just happy I was able to pull it off before the full caution. I was expecting the caution, and it happened, and it worked out perfectly for us."

MATT McMURRY (No. 20 JDC Motorsports, second, pole winner): "We had an awesome start, and we just kept pulling away. The first half of the race we just kept increasing the lead. And then I saw Mikhail (Goikhberg) in my mirrors, and I was thinking, 'Who the heck caught up to me?' I made a mistake in (Turn) 2, and he was able to catch up to me and then he took me in Turn 3. And then there was the yellow right after that to the checkers, so I didn't have a chance to get him back. I had a great car, so if we would have gone green, I would have definitely had a chance."

ANDREW NOVICH (No. 61 Comprent Motor Sports, third): "I've never worked so hard to finish third before. Matt (McMurry) got an awesome start, and I was able to hang out behind him for a while. But I think I ended up driving my tires off because midway through the race I just wasn't able to keep pace. Then all of a sudden Mikhail (Goikhberg) was in my mirrors, and it was all downhill from there. We had a good car all weekend, but we made a gamble on setup to try and move one position forward, and I think we went one back instead. But I can't thank the guys at Comprent enough and my sponsors Adidas and Bananaman's Water Trucks. They're the reason I'm here, and I'm just so happy to be here and finish on the podium."

JOHN FALB (No. 77 ONE Motorsports, first, Masters): "It's a beautiful day out here. The track is awesome. I love how they repaved it. I was able to stay with Enzo (Potolicchio). I'd gain on him a little bit; he would gain on me a little bit. Finally, about halfway through the race, going up the back straight, he started to slow. I guess he had a problem. I was able to keep pounding out the laps and finish the race and bring home the win in Masters. I'm really excited about that." (About work of ONE Motorsports crew to repair his damaged car Saturday): "The guys had a lot of work to do last night. I tore the whole front end off in the race yesterday, bouncing across the track and spreading parts everywhere. They quickly got the spares out, and they were working until the wee hours with the floodlights on it. They put it on the setup pad this morning, and I went out and practiced, and the car felt great. So it was like they didn't skip a beat." (You're leading Masters with two races left. Are you thinking about the championship?): "I'm definitely focused on it. I've been to Road Atlanta quite a few times, so I'm really excited about spending some time in the race car in October at Petit Le Mans and all of the excitement that goes on around that event. I certainly will be looking to bring home the championship."

MICHAL CHLUMECKY (No. 31 Eurosport Racing, second, Masters): (About evasive move to avoid Bruno Junqueira crash): "I lost in (Turn) 1 and was able to put it back on track and follow right behind him. I think both of us were just a little bit uneasy. We probably picked up something (on tires) in that incident, and he was really nervous out there, the car looked really nervous out there. I kind of anticipated something and was fortunate enough to escape closely and put it back on track and finish the race under yellow. It worked out well for me. This is a great track, wonderful facility. The team was fantastic. I'm happy with the results I was able to pull off this weekend. It was my first time here."

DON YOUNT (No. 28 Yount Motorsports, third, Masters): "Fun race. I had a spin in Turn 2, so I was at the back of the pack and I had to put down some laps. I ended up with a podium, so I'm happy with this any day." (About two Masters podiums this weekend): "It was a productive weekend. I think after a couple of podiums in Wisconsin and a couple here, we've got a pretty good run. I wish we had started the run a little better in the beginning of the year. I think we're second in Masters. That's where we wanted to be at the end of this weekend.

BRIAN ALDER (No. 22 BAR1 Motorsports, first, Lites 2): "We made some changes to the car from yesterday for warm-up, which was an improvement. We were really consistent, getting faster on every lap. Todd (Slusher) had us on overall lap time, but unfortunately he had a mechanical issue and to finish first you must first finish. This one's for the crew. They put a reliable car together, and I was able to bring it home on top."

JOHN SALMON (No. 46 V.I.P.E.R., second, Lites 2): "Definitely felt really good. We were faster today. I was still not quite fast enough to keep up with Todd (Slusher) and Brian (Alder), but unfortunately for Todd, I was able to capitalize on the little incident that happened to him. It was a really good race. We were really moving along. Beautiful day, perfect conditions. The best thing about racing here with these guys is that they're constantly pushing me to go faster. The team's helping me step up and get better every day. This is the fastest I've ever been. You can't ask for anything more than that." (Are you racing in season finale at Road Atlanta?): "Oh, yeah. Absolutely."

TODD SLUSHER (No. 62 ONE Motorsports, third, Lites 2): "The day was fantastic. I was disappointed I didn't get to finish due to a mechanical issue, a little contact with one of the PC cars. But I was out there and had a nice lead over my closest competitor, Brian Alder, and I was turning a lot of fast lap times. I just kept getting quicker and quicker. I was extremely happy; I really was. Having the traffic with PC cars is a little bit stressful, so you take your chances with that stuff. Unfortunately for me, I got on the wrong side of that one, but all in all, a great weekend, a great race."

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