Goikhberg Wins Trans Am Opener in Detroit
BELLE ISLE, Mich. (1 June, 2019)- Anything can happen in a TA2 race, and the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli drivers delivered a thrilling round on the streets of Belle Isle during the series' 21st appearance at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.
A sensational race that featured four different leaders in 36 laps saw two Chevrolets claim the top two steps of the podium during the TA2 powered by AEM Muscle Car Challenge on Saturday.
After the front row starters found trouble, it was the underdogs of practice and qualifying that came through for the big results to open the Trans Am Detroit weekend. Following a breathtaking inside pass, Canadian Misha Goikhberg held the lead in the No. 10 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro to take his first Trans Am win of the 2019 season.
In his 99th Trans Am start, Tony Ave wheeled the No. 25 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro to a strong second-place finish with championship contender Dillon Machavern in the No. 77 Liqui-molly Prefix Ford Mustang claiming the last step on the podium.
"My car was consistent and easy to drive, so I stepped on it," said Goikhberg. "I managed the gap and played it safe in traffic, and I'm so happy to bring it home for my team owners Blaise and Penny (Csida). It's special to see this kind of passion about going racing. We're looking forward to tomorrow, to see how we stack up against all the faster cars!"The prologue of the Muscle Car Challenge story opened with 2018 winner Tony Buffomante in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang starting on pole with reigning TA2 champion and 2018 Motor City Dash winner Rafa Matos in the No. 88 Lear 3Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro in second. As the green flag dropped, Buffomante and Matos immediately built a gap from the pack. Matos took the lead in Lap 2 but Buffomante paid back the favor before the drivers crossed the stripe for Lap 3. The past Detroit Grand Prix winners squeezed side-by-side into Turn 5, contact was made and Matos was forced to the pits with a flat tire.
Buffomante continued the race without much contention from the field, building more than a three second gap from P2, until a spin in Turn 1 sent the Mike Cope Racing driver back to fifth.
In his first TA2 race of the season, veteran driver Ave led the middle segments of the Muscle Car Challenge. Dicing back and forth for position with his BC Race Cars teammate, Goikhberg stuck his nose to the inside of Ave to squeeze his way into the race lead on Lap 18.
"It was a tough race- It's so hard to win these races, so to bring it home 1-2 for Blaise and Penny is so special," said the multiple Trans Am championship winner Ave. "The racing is so difficult so if you can beat these kids in these cars, you can win in anything! We had an incident in practice and the guys changed the nose of the car, then we picked up a vibration in qualifying. But the car came in as the race progressed. When I got to the lead, I thought I might finally be able to win this thing, since the faster cars had issues. But the car got loose, Misha was quick and there were too many laps left to keep him back there."
Goikhberg and Ave's run not only gave BC Race Cars its first Trans Am win but also its first ever one-two finish.
"My wife Penny and I are so elated," owner of BC Race Cars Blaise Csida said. "We've been involved with Trans Am for about 15 years and to take our first win - and make it a 1-2 finish in Detroit - I have tears in my eyes. And it's been a real team effort this weekend. We couldn't get the cars underneath us in practice and Tony led us down a setup path that worked really well. They are both amazing drivers and we're so proud to have them driving with us. This is our first time racing in Detroit and it's such a big weekend, with all the fans here. It is fantastic that Trans Am races here in Detroit along with IndyCar and IMSA. It's such a great event."
Starting in seventh place, Machavern methodically weaved through the 2.35-mile street course with ease until he caught up with his Stevens-Miller Racing teammate and hometown favorite Marc Miller. Miller tried to fend off Machavern, defending position for several laps. But Machavern's Ford was able to edge Miller's Dodge in the corners as Machavern raced into podium position and the championship leader had to settle for a fourth-place finish.
"Tony and Misha put on a really good fight, and I had a good battle with my teammate Marc Miller, so we're happy to get a podium in Detroit," said Machavern. "We missed the first practice, so we were learning the track in the second session. Then we lost a fuel pump during qualifying and didn't get a good lap in, so it felt like qualifying laps throughout the race today in order to cut through the field. But we knew we had a good car going into the race, taking the spots I could. It's so fun to race here. The dynamic of the circuit changes so much because it's not usually a racetrack. It can get a bit hairy as you kiss the wall every once in a while, but it's a blast. I did my fastest lap at the end which is a real testament to how well made these Pirelli tires are!"
Following a setback early in the race with a cut tire that forced a slow lap and trip to pit lane, Matos charged from last place to finish the race in eighth. The recovery earned Matos the Cool Shirt Cool Move of the race. The TA2 powered by AEM doubleheader concludes Sunday with a 75-minute (or 43 laps) feature starting at 11:45 a.m. ET. For live timing, full results and event photos visit GoTransAm.com.