DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 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.
That vital span starts June 26-28 at Watkins Glen Int’l – the first time the Int’l 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.
Duerson, 50, from Gulfport, Miss., 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.