BOWMANVILLE, Ont., (July 21, 2013) - Round eight of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda is one to remember as several of the series competitors delivered season-best finishes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. In Race Two of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, the entire Lites 1 Masters podium was occupied by individuals who earned their highest placements of the 2013 season.
The top two overall spots were filled by usual suspects Sean Rayhall and Daniel Goldburg, finishing first and second respectively, but 8 Star Motorsports' Christian Potolicchio hopped onto the podium today for the first time in his career. Rayhall's victory is his second for the weekend and fourth for the season. The Comprent Motor Sports driver regained the lead from rival Ryan Booth on Lap 5 and held on to take the checkers after Booth experienced a mechanical issue.
"Great weekend here for the number 14 Robert Talbot Mazda," Rayhall said. "Really couldn't get any better with two poles and two wins. Big thanks to Racing Radios, Race Light Protection and 8 Star Motorsports for helping me. I really need to thank everyone that's behind me, all my fans and everyone behind me for my program. Nothing better than coming to Canadian Tire Motorsport park for the first time and grabbing two wins."
Rayhall continued to pick up speed throughout the race for another record-breaking performance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. With a time of 1:14.920 on Lap 29, the 18-year-old broke his own race lap record set yesterday.
Rayhall was happy with his first experience at the 10-turn, 2.459-mile circuit and was equally as pleased to have Potolicchio join him on the podium. Rayhall works for 8Star Motorsports and actually serves as his driver coach. Father Enzo Potolicchio hugged his youngest son immediately after he exited his No. 2 entry, and was overjoyed as Christian raised the trophy above his head.
"I have no words," Enzo Potolicchio said. "He's worked really hard. He's committed to doing this. His past experience has only been Skip Barber, so he's come a long way and I'm so proud of him it's unbelievable."
Potolicchio turned up the heat on Goldburg for the last 12 laps of the race, but Goldburg was able to clinch second-place honors. With two second-place finishes for the weekend, the Performance Tech driver gathered plenty of points for the season to remain in the championship hunt.
"Very pleased with the weekend," Goldburg said. "While I would like to be on the top step, I came home with two second places. Got to thank Performance Tech, the whole team, we came back from an incident on Friday in practice. They put everything back together and gave me a great car for the weekend. They were hard fought second places. Looking forward to Road America."
Although Potolicchio was never able to get around Goldburg despite being separated by tenths of a second, he was elated with the third-place finish and chance to join his driver coach in the trophy presentations.
"First thank you to all of my team," Christian Potolicchio said. "We had a hard crash yesterday in the first race but my team put it back together and I think we had an even better car than yesterday. I appreciate Sean (Rayhall) who helped for these last two races, he's a great coach. Thank you to all for my first podium at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park."
Potolicchio rode the tail of Jon Brownson's No. 34 Eurosport Racing entry for 12 laps before gaining the position for third when Brownson had an incident in Turn 5 that ultimately brought out the second caution for the field.
The first of two full-course yellows came out when on Lap 6 when Scott Tucker of Level 5 Motorsports spun in the apex of Turn 10. Safety cars had retrieved Tucker by Lap 9 to restart the race with 30 minutes remaining, but Tucker was forced to retire from competition.
On Lap 16 it looked as if Masters contender Michal Chlumecky would have his highest finish of the season as well after blasting up from 13th place to sixth before making contact with the wall on drivers left exiting Turn 5.
After a difficult start to the weekend, JDC Motorsports' Mikhail Goikhberg recovered to finish in fourth place after starting in seventh position for Race Two. Goikhberg sustained significant damage to his car in qualifications, and hopped into a replacement for Race One, but was unable to complete yesterday's competition. Today's result will salvage Goikhberg's hopes of remaining a championship contender in the points standings.
The top three Masters Championships finishers recorded personal bests in Race Two at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). Lamont Harris with Comprent Motor Sports won his first race of the season and powered up from 12th place starting position to fifth overall.
Daniel Mancini and the No. 96 Performance Tech entry found the podium for the first time since round one of the 2013 season. Mancini took second place despite taking a bump in the pace lap.
In just his second event with the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Series, Fransesco de Leonardis lands on the podium for the first time this season with a third-place finish.
Points leader Jon Brownson retired from the competition after spinning at the exit of Turn 5. The No. 34 Eurosport Racing entry caused a full-course yellow as the safety crew entered the track to retrieve Brownson and his Lites L1 Élan DP02 2.0L Mazda. Brownson was as high as third overall before exciting the track.
Another top Masters contender, Joel Janco, had a spin in Turn 3 on Lap 22, causing him to drop back out of the podium finishers and settle for fourth place in Masters. Janco was leading the Masters group at the time of the incident.
JDC Motorsports' Gerry Kraut, second in the standings entering round eight, did not compete in Race Two at CTMP.
Lamont Harris: First Place L1 Masters Championship
"I had a wonderful day it was awesome. Really fun. It was pretty exciting! I had a lot of confidence in the car this time we changed the set up and I felt really good. Today we were where I thought we should have been a couple days ago. I just wish we had one more day. How about a Monday race?"
Daniel Mancini: Second Place L1 Masters Championship
"We had a very nice race. I unfortunately got touched on the warm up lap, my steering wheel was messed up so in the left hand I was having to push off. I had to slow down a little bit. I finished. I'm happy."
The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Series is back on track August 9-11 for the 2013 Road Race Showcase in Elkhart Lake, Wis.