Monterey, Calif., (May 11, 2013) - Sunny and warm weather conditions greeted the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda participants before race two at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. On a beautiful day for the 2013 American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patrón, the field put on a great show and Comprent Motor Sports' Sean Rayhall's performance was even more stunning than the California landscape.
Rayhall clinched the victory in a time of 46:22.237 in 33 laps around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit. The 18-year-old driver had a large lead over the rest of the field, finishing over 20 seconds faster than the next competitor. He posted his fastest time on lap five of the race and led the field flag-to-flag in the No. 14 Robert Talbott, Élan DP02 Lites 1 entry.
"We had a little competition on the start of the race I guess but I am really happy to come away with Robert Talbott winning both these races," Rayhall said. "This is an awesome event and it's awesome to be here at Laguna with everyone and to come away with two poles and two wins for Robert Talbott, Comprent Motor Sports and Racing Radios. I really have to thank everyone behind me in my program for giving me a chance to do this."
Rayhall began in the Cooper Tires Pole Position followed by Ryan Booth, Daniel Goldburg, Mikhail Goikhberg and Jon Brownson (Masters). The starting grid was set by the second fastest lap times in qualifications on Thursday, May 9.
Despite losing his damper cover during the pace lap, Performance Tech's Goldburg finished second in the No. 6 car. He was able to hang on to the piece and "toss it" to an IMSA Safety Official before the race began, and therefore didn't need to pit, which helped him keep his position for the start. After a long weekend, Goldburg will take a second-place finish as his 35th birthday present.
"I've had a really entertaining weekend!," Goldburg exclaimed. "The team did a really great job putting the car back together because I had a little 'off' in practice and they had me back together for the next session. Then I had an incident in qualifying so it's been a topsy-turvy weekend.
Yesterday the car didn't start on the grid so I started in the back of the pack and made it up to fourth. And at the beginning of this race I had a piece of the hood fly off and I pitched it and just kept going. From there Sean (Rayhall) just had a great race. He is really fast here and I just tried to keep up. I had a pretty clean race and happy to come home with points and a podium for my birthday!"
Goldburg's Performance Tech teammate Booth battled with Rayhall on the first lap but contact forced him to retire from the race without completing a full lap.
Booth's exit gave Goldburg a chance to slide into the second position, which he held onto for the remainder of the race.
Finishing in third position was JDC Motorsports' Mikhail Goikhberg. After a seventh-place finish the day before, Goikhberg improved four places to finish out the weekend.
"It was good, we hoped again to have more race pace today, but the car developed a little bit of understeer about halfway and then we just cruised to the finish," Goikhberg said. "Developed a big gap behind us and a big gap in front of us. But we will see how the points come out and just keep working on our pace."
Scott Tucker with Level 5 Motorsports came through with the victory after a tight battle with Eurosport Racing's Jon Brownson throughout the 45-minute race feature. With the win, Tucker claims his second of the weekend.
"Jon (Brownson) is a tough competitor," Tucker said. "I was able to get up in Turn 9, and he made a little wiggle, but I made the same mistake. So luck was on my side today. He drove a great race and I look forward to racing him again!"
The friendly competitors were head-to-head throughout the duration of the race. Brownson held onto the fourth position for most of the race, but on lap 19 Tucker made a clean pass around Brownson.
"It was a great to have a 45-minute long race run green at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca-which is a very challenging track to get that accomplished on," Brownson said. "That just made it a thrill. It was a great competition and a good race."
Richard Fant and Ferrari of Houston finished third amongst the Masters and held tight with the top of the field before Christian Potolicchio passed him for a sixth-place finish.
"It was great ending up on podium," Fant said. "It was hard on the old guys going flag-to-flag, but we did it. So it was good. It was a good race and a great track, and the whole IMSA Prototype Lites team just does a great job!"
The younger Potolicchio brother from 8Star Motorsports climbed five positions throughout the race, starting in the 11th position and finishing in sixth after passing his older brother, Gianncarlo Potolicchio.
The next race on the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda schedule is at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Diamond Cellar Classic, June 14-16.