Goikhberg, Alder Celebrate Lites Titles

Lites 1 podium finishers (from left): Matt McMurry, MIkhail Goikhberg, Andrew Novich. (IMSA photo)
Lites 1 podium finishers (from left): Matt McMurry, MIkhail Goikhberg, Andrew Novich. (IMSA photo)
Lites 1 podium finishers (from left): Matt McMurry, MIkhail Goikhberg, Andrew Novich. (IMSA photo)

ALTON, Va.  – 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 Int’l Raceway, pulling off a weekend sweep.

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

Christian Potolicchio, from Hallandale Beach, Fla., 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 finish:

Mikhail Goikjberg, Matt McMurry, Andrew Novich, Christian Potolicchio, John Falb, Michal Chlumecky, Don Yount, Lamont Harris, Bryan Alder, Darryl Shoff, John Salmon, Robert Alon, Joel Janco, Todd Slusher, Enzo Potolicchio