Petersen/White Lightning to Debut New Car Fourth at Lime Rock Long Paces First Practice LAKEVILLE, Conn., June 30, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will start fourth in tomorrow's New England Grand Prix American Le Mans ...
Petersen/White Lightning to Debut New Car Fourth at Lime Rock
Long Paces First Practice
LAKEVILLE, Conn., June 30, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will start fourth in tomorrow's New England Grand Prix American Le Mans Series event here at Lime Rock Park. It is an impressive accomplishment for the Michael Petersen-owned operation considering the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Market Scan/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was owned by someone else just a week ago and sat in pieces on the ground here just a few days ago. Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) lapped the 1.54-mile, seven-turn road course in 53.920 seconds just two tenths slower than his pole-winning time of 53.748 seconds here in 2005. The gap between the top-five in class was only 0.598 seconds.
Long's planned qualifying "hot lap" fell short when the brakes locked-up after he hit a bump. While Long maintained control of the car he had to take to the run-off road to avoid spinning. With the tires now off their peak, Long was not able to make a pole position run in the Porsche. His time was good enough for fifth fastest. With the disallowance of the qualifying run of the second-fastest car for a rules infraction, the No. 31 will move-up to fourth at the start of tomorrow's two hour and 45-minute race.
Despite the abuse of the smoky lock-up, the Michelin Pilot Racing Slicks continue to be in good shape and Long's co-driver Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) will start the race on the same set of tires at 3 PM tomorrow. The New England Grand Prix marks Petersen/White Lightning's 50th American Le Mans Series start since 1999.
The 2005 American Le Mans Series GT2 Class Champions took delivery of their "new" Porsche 911 GT3 RSR one week ago today from Porsche Club of America racer Rusty West (Newbury Park, Calif.). The car was then shipped to Lime Rock Park here in Lakeville, Conn. It arrived on Monday of this week, the same day the crew and equipment arrived. The Dale White-managed team immediately fell-upon the car in an all-out assault to prepare it for tomorrow's event. Every piece of bodywork was replaced on the car, a new engine, transmission, electronics, wiring harness, both driveshaft, all four corners of the car's suspension, a new seat and seatbelts and many more pieces on the well-maintained car had to be replaced prior to the first practice. In fact, every piece on the car was replaced with the exception of a few wiring components, some cooling hoses and the fuel cell. All the graphics work also had to be completed to give the car its traditional Petersen/White Lightning livery.
All that work paid-off early for the team. Following a late night, the Dennis Chizma-led team left the track at 3:30 AM local time and returned at 7:30 AM, the crew arrived ready to run the car for the first time. Long took the wheel for the first practice and set the quickest lap in the highly competitive GT2 class with a time of 54.005 seconds.
Petersen/ White Lightning finished second here at Lime Rock in 2005 with drivers Bergmeister and Long. The New England Grand Prix will start at 3 PM (ET) on July 1. A tape delayed broadcast of the two hour and 45 minute event can be seen on CBS at 4 PM (ET) on July 2. Live timing and scoring can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Dale White, Team Manager:
About qualifying: "The guys have put in some long hours to get us here. They gave a great effort and Patrick put aside any worry about a brand new car and went out and put in some real quick laps. That shows a professional driver who knows he is working with a professional team. The car is looking really good. Patrick's lap in the first session was just what we needed. We had a little disappointment in qualifying but we have a good setup for the race tomorrow. We knew we'd have a lot of work to do on the car to get it ready to race in the American Le Mans Series but we have it where we want it now."
Patrick Long, Driver: "The team really worked hard. Today's speed was a testament to the crew. The least I could do was show my thanks by running as hard as I could. The car was fast in the morning session but we wanted to make a few changes for qualifying. Unfortunately, we probably went a little too stiff and when I hit that bump under braking it locked-up the brakes. We didn't do any damage to the tires so we'll be OK for tomorrow's race but it killed qualifying for us. Obviously, we are disappointed by that but we feel good about the race."