GT2 DRIVERS, TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS COULD GO DOWN TO WIRE Braselton, Ga. - Former teammates, current competitors. Such is the fray down the home stretch of the 2005 American Le Mans Series in the GT2 points chase. With four races remaining, and next...
GT2 DRIVERS, TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS COULD GO DOWN TO WIRE
Braselton, Ga. - Former teammates, current competitors. Such is the fray down the home stretch of the 2005 American Le Mans Series in the GT2 points chase. With four races remaining, and next up is the Generac 500 at Road America on Aug. 19-21, two teams in particular have their sights firmly set on each other.
That would be the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR against a similar model, the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing entry.
After building a sizable early-season lead, Petersen/White Lightning pilots Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister have watched AJR drivers Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard win each of the last four GT2 events, capturing the points lead in the process.
"There are still four races to go," Bernhard said. "It's better to be ahead in the points than to be behind. The DNF at Sebring still follows us. We still have to keep our heads together and work and hope it stays that way."
While the Dumas-Bernhard duo drove to a pole-to-checker win at Portland, Long and Bergmeister endured their longest day, finishing eighth in class and earning just three to the 20 AJR picked up for the victory.
"They finally had some bad luck that we were able to capitalize on," Dumas said. "We seem to be getting faster every race. The team is giving us a really good car and we are taking care of business on the track. It will be nice to have Petersen chasing us for a while."
Thus Dumas and Bernhard vaulted into the GT2 lead with 96 points apiece to 90 each for Long and Bergmeister. The difference is the same in the class' team standings, with AJR leading Petersen/White Lightning.
The final four events will be pivotal for both sides. Portland's setback ended a string of five consecutive podium finishes for the No. 31 Petersen/White Lightning team.
"We certainly didn't have a great day in Portland," Long said. "We think we know what it is now that started the trouble. You've just got to forget about it and go out and perform. Jorg and I feel the same way. We know we are going to be in this thing right down to the very end. We'll just go out and go after wins."
Among the four, very little qualifies as "the unknown." All four are or have been Porsche factory "works" drivers, and each has come to know the others' styles very well. Before moving over to Petersen/White Lightning, Bergmeister drove for Alex Job Racing.
One member of the ALMS scene likens the four to "college teammates who suddenly find themselves playing against each other in the Super Bowl."
"It's true that there isn't a whole lot we don't know about each other," Bergmeister says. "The (racing) talent in GT2 is just incredible right now. There is no longer any margin for error."
While AJR and Petersen battle at the top, several other teams promise to make the stretch run a dogfight. Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty co-pilot the No. 45 Flying Lizards Porsche and currently are in third place in the division with 69 points. Making a late charge and hitting stride at the same time is the No. 43 BAM! Porsche that has featured podium finishes in each of the last two ALMS events.
In the class' manufacturers standings, Porsche can claim its fourth straight championship as long as one of its cars finishes ahead of either Panoz Esperante GTLM.
The Generac 500 at Road America, Round 7 of the 2005 ALMS, is set for 3 p.m. EDT Aug. 21 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 20. American Le Mans Radio, and Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.