GT2 drivers receive AARWBA First Team votes

LONG, BERGMEISTER NAMED TO PRESTIGIOUS AUTO RACING ALL-AMERICAN TEAM Braselton, Ga. - Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister's storybook year continued as they were chosen to the 17-member Auto Racing All-American team that was announced Thursday...

LONG, BERGMEISTER NAMED TO PRESTIGIOUS AUTO RACING ALL-AMERICAN TEAM

Braselton, Ga. - Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister's storybook year continued as they were chosen to the 17-member Auto Racing All-American team that was announced Thursday by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.

The GT2 champions from the American Le Mans Series will be honored, along with the rest of the 2005 class, at AARWBA's annual banquet Dec. 3 in Indianapolis.

Corvette Racing's roster of four drivers - Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin, Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell -- were selected as second-team honorees. Honorable mention honors went to LMP1 champions Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro of Champion Racing.

Long and Bergmeister were named All-Americans in the At-Large category. In capturing this season's GT2 championship for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, the privateer effort outfought a group that included factory entries from Porsche and Panoz, as well as a host of high-quality privateer entries as well.

"To be announced to the AARWBA All-American Auto Racing Team really is a dream come true for me. It caps off a dream season in the ALMS with Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. Anytime you can be listed beside the great names that are on this team, and to be the sole representatives of the ALMS with all the great drivers in the series, that is pretty special. I won the Gorsline Scholarship at the AARWBA banquet in 2001 so I have seen first-hand how impressive this all is. This is one of the greatest honors of my career and I need to thank Jorg, (team owner) Mike (Petersen), (team manager) Dale (White) and all the guys on the team and at Porsche for making it happen."

Long and Bergmeister began the season with an impressive win at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, struggled a bit during the middle of the season, but then finished the year with four straight wins at Road America, Mosport, Petit Le Mans and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The latter clinched the class championship. In addition, Long captured the pole at Lime Rock Park, and Bergmeister set the GT2 fast race lap at two venues.

This is the first AAWRBA award for each.

"I am really, really honored. I have never been given an award like this," Bergmeister said. "I am really happy that other people recognized our season. We had a great year at Petersen/White Lightning and this is a great way to finish it. Before we started the year, I knew we had a very good chance to win races but I didn't dream we would win the championship. All the guys worked so hard to make it happen. It is the team that should be given this award because they are the ones that make this happen. Mike, Dale, Stefan and the whole team ... thank you. I don't know how to say what this means to me."

Gavin and Beretta battled teammates Fellows and O'Connell all year long, winning six of 10 races to their sister car's three. Gavin and Beretta finished on the podium for all 10 races, but did not claim their first victory until Round 4 at Lime Rock. They finished the season winning six of the last seven ALMS races. In addition, they also captured their second straight GT1 championship at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Fellows and O'Connell, meanwhile, claimed victories at the Grand Pix of Atlanta, Mid-Ohio and Infineon, and were second at Le Mans.

Pirro and Biela won four times this year, including three straight (Infineon, Portland and Road America) to take control of the class championship. They wrapped up the title by winning the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

The banquet, which also concludes AARWBA's 50th anniversary, is open to the public. Ticket information is available from AARWBA, 922 N. Pass Ave., Burbank, Calif. 91505, or call (818) 842-7005. For more information, see AARWBA's Web site.

-alms-

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