Goikhberg drove his No. 10 JDC Motorsports Lites 1 Élan DP02 car to a 2.895-second victory over Craig Duerson after earning the Cooper Tires Pole Award.
Mikhail Goikhberg won the first Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda race of the 2014 season from the pole position Thursday, March 13 at Sebring International Raceway.
Goikhberg, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, drove his No. 10 JDC Motorsports Lites 1 Élan DP02 car to a 2.895-second victory over Craig Duerson after earning the Cooper Tires Pole Award. It was Goikhberg's first victory since winning last season at Mid-Ohio with Mazda power.
Duerson won the Masters class with his second-place finish in the No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports entry on the historic, 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit. Dalton Sargeant finished third in his first series start in the No. 4 8Star Motorsports entry after passing Duerson's son, Hayden, on the final lap in a duel of teenage talents.
Craig Duerson recorded a successful debut in the series after winning the Platinum Masters championship last season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
"Great car and great program," Duerson said. "I'm happy with finishing second. Hats off to the pace that the winner ran. It's his third season in the car, so I was really pleased with my pace in the car."
Goikhberg maintained a steady gap of 1.5 to 2.5 seconds over Duerson for nearly the entire 30-minute race, which had no full-course caution periods. Duerson closed to within 1.1 seconds after Lap 9, but Goikhberg rebuilt the lead to 1.6 seconds just two laps later and continued to pad the gap until the finish.
Brian Alder was the top Lites 2 finisher after recording the quickest qualifying lap earlier Thursday in that class. A mechanical problem on his final qualifying lap forced Alder and the BAR 1 Motorsports team to scramble to make repairs before the race.
MIKHAIL GOIKHBERG (Winner, No. 10 JDC Motorsports): "It went well. We were on pole, and we were able to have a really clean start and then just kept pushing out laps. We didn't smoke the competition, so we still have a lot of work to do. But we are looking forward to tomorrow's race."
CRAIG DUERSON (Second overall, first Masters, No. 27 Performance Tech Motorsports): "It was my first race in the IMSA Prototype Lites series. Great car and great program. I'm happy with finishing second. Hats off to the pace that the winner ran. It's his third season in the car, so I was really pleased with my pace in the car."
DALTON SARGEANT (Third overall, No. 4 8Star Motorsports): "Very difficult race. Had a tough start, and I was missing some time on the first laps. I really have to say thank you to (team owner) Enzo (Potolicchio) and everyone at 8Star Motorsports and all the mechanics who are putting in all the hard work. Also a special thanks to my coach, Ozz Negri."
JON BROWNSON (Eighth overall, second Masters, No. 34 Performance Tech Motorsports): "It was another exciting day at Sebring. We had a really good, fast, clean start. There was a lot of action in Turn 1, which, of course, always carries into Turn 3 here. Managed to make up a few places there, and I kept plugging away. It's a thrill to be here with Performance Tech, and we had a great race."
RICHARD FANT (Ninth overall, third Masters, No. 44 Ferrari of Houston Racing): "Rough, rough day. I had a loose car. Spun in the tower turn and got it going again. I chased Jon (Brownson) for most of the lap, almost got him to take over second in Masters but couldn't get it. I'm happy to finish third today."
BRIAN ALDER (17th overall, First Lites 2, No. 8 BAR1 Motorsports): "The race was great. We had to do an engine change after qualifying, and the crew did an amazing job. The car was just perfect. We had a great race out there, ran consistent laps and brought it home on top."
LUDOVICO MANFREDI (20th overall, Second Lites 2, No. 30 ANSA Motorsports): "I had a problem in qualifying this morning and didn't get a lap time at all. The race was relatively uneventful. I managed to pass Jerome Mee and finish second."