Petersen/ White Lightning Charges From Back of Pack to Second at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Oh., May 22, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing was forced to start from the back of the field-- 22nd overall, seventh in class-- at today's...
Petersen/ White Lightning Charges From Back of Pack to Second at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Oh., May 22, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing was forced to start from the back of the field-- 22nd overall, seventh in class-- at today's ALMS at Mid-Ohio. However, the Michael Petersen-owned team launched an immediate assault on the competition from the drop of the green flag both on track and in pit lane that landed the Porsche second in GT2 class, 11th overall. Patrick Long (Las Vegas) started the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR handing over the wheel to teammate Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) on lap 53. Despite a rain shower in the last several laps, Bergmeister was able to maintain his position giving the Dale White-managed team its third-straight IMSA Cup Award for privateer entrants of the three-race old season. The No. 31 crew now heads to France to defend their 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 (formerly GT) class victory from 2004. They will return to the United States for the next round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Lime Rock Park on the Fourth of July with the GT2 class points lead for drivers, teams and in the IMSA Cup.
Despite trailing all but two-cars in the field at the green flag, Long was fighting for third place by the end of the first lap. He held the position outright by the end of the seventh lap and moved to second by lap nine. Once in the car, Bergmeister continued to take the Las Vegas-based Porsche team to the competition. Just behind the No. 45 Porsche, the German pressured for several laps waiting for the pressure to force an error. The error occurred on lap 89 with 26 minutes to go in the two hour, 45-minute race. Now in second-place and clear of slower traffic, the 2005 12 Hours of Sebring team began the attack again, this time for the lead. However, a storm, that had been threatening all race, struck with 10 minutes remaining. Bergmeister, though closing the gap to that point, had to settle for second as the rain-soaked track kept him from a full-out assault.
The day got off to a challenging start as two issues forced the car to the back of the grid after Long qualified the car second-quick. In post-qualifying technical inspection the car was deemed too low to the ground and the time was disallowed. The team determined that the cooling of the tires forced air pressures in the tires to drop enough to lower the car's overall height. Secondly, due to a prior commitment, Bergmeister was not able to complete the required two practice laps in an official on-track session. Therefore, the car would have to start at the back of the grid.
Michael Petersen, team owner: "It's pretty unbelievable. We got moved to the back but Patrick did a fantastic first stint and moved us back to the front. We knew it was just a matter of time before we'd be up there. We had fantastic calls by Dale and good strategies that almost paid off. We're on quite a roll right now. Le Mans is the next hurdle. We're looking forward to getting to France and then coming back to the American Le Mans Series."
Dale White, team manager: "We had to adjust our strategy a little being moved to the back. Patrick did a great job getting us back upfront and the guys had some terrific pit stops. The strategy really worked out well at the end but the rain caught us out some. It's pretty obvious that we're happy with the results but we're still going for wins and we'll keep going for wins. We're happy with the momentum going into Le Mans and with the points lead but we want to be on the top step every weekend. Not just on the podium collecting points."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "The rain at the end on the slicks was really slippery. So I just wanted to bring it home. At the beginning I lost too much time behind the 45-car. That gave Dumas (No. 23) a chance to get away and I didn't have any chance to attack. So, I just tried to bring it home. Patrick did an awesome job doing the setup on the car. So, I am pretty happy with the results."
Patrick Long, driver: "The race was a culmination of how well the whole weekend went. Personally, it was a great race for me this weekend. And the guys did a flawless job, as always, and made everyone else look bad on the pit stops. So, congratulations to them. Overall it was a great race for us and one of the sweetest second-places we've ever had."
For more on Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing, please visit www.petersenmotorsports.com.