Petersen/White Lightning Ready to Turn Promise Into Results at Mid-Ohio Lexington, Ohio, May 16, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing enters round-three of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the American Le Mans at...
Petersen/White Lightning Ready to Turn Promise Into Results at Mid-Ohio
Lexington, Ohio, May 16, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing enters round-three of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, with strong runs that turned to disappointing finishes in the first two races of the season. The No. 31 MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was leading GT2 class at the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring when a suspension failure forced a lengthy stop for repairs. They qualified second for last Friday's Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston and challenged for the lead before a shock absorber failed due to the abuse of the bumpy circuit. While they finished fourth in Texas, it left a bitter taste in the mouth of the 2005 ALMS GT2 Championship winning operation. Now, the Michael Petersen-owned effort looks to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to correct their course back on target to defend their 2005 Championship.
The picturesque Mid-Ohio facility is the first, purpose-built race course the ALMS will compete on this year. The two opening races having been held on a converted airfield (Sebring) and the access roads around the Reliant sports complex (Houston). Not only is the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio circuit smooth from a recently-completed repaving project, the natural terrain course also provides the first elevation changes at a track this season. The concrete patches that had been used in several corners around Mid-Ohio have been paved over allowing for a much less abrasive apex to the turns. The lack of concrete will simplify the setup of the car for the team which no longer has to deal with multiple surface changes. It will also provide a longer life for the Michelin Pilot racing slicks and is expected to result in quicker lap times. Unlike Houston where both Bergmeister and Long had schedule conflicts, the two 2005 ALMS Driver Champions are singularly focused on Sunday's two hour and 45-minute feature event.
In 2005, Mid-Ohio provided the Dale White-managed team a second-place finish and its second IMSA Cup of the year. It was one of nine podium finishes in a ten event season including five class wins for the team.
The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will start at Noon (EDT) on May 21. Live coverage of the event can be seen on CBS at 1 PM (EDT), May 21. Live timing and scoring can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Mike Petersen, Owner: "We're ready to get back into our rhythm for Mid-Ohio. We've been running well but not where we want to be at the finish. Mid-Ohio has always been a good track for us so we're eager to get there and put on a good show for the fans. The competition is so intense in the GT2 class this year. It's a lot of fun but we're ready to go out and get back on the podium."
Dale White, Team Manager: "It's an entirely new ballgame when we get to Mid-Ohio. They've paved the track so it's going to be even faster than it has been. We found a really good base setup in Houston that I think we'll be able to fine-tune for the much smoother tracks we'll run on the rest of the year. The team has been performing really well. We've been right on the pace with the leaders the first two events but have had some bad luck with two parts breaking that were out of our control. The whole team is focused and ready to go out and get back on the podium."
Patrick Long, Driver:
About Mid-Ohio: "It is a really challenging course. It is quite physically demanding with the elevation changes and configuration of the turns. Qualifying is always important at Mid-Ohio but being quick in the race is as equally important. Last year we started in the back and got up to second before the first yellow. Overtaking is possible but it tricky here. We always focus more on our race setup than qualifying and we'll do that again. Having consistently quick lap times through a stint is always important."
About the car setup with the new pavement: "We know the car is fast. We have a good working relationship with Jorg, Frank [Funke, engineer] and I. So we know we'll be close to where we want to be right off the truck with the setup. We really had a good setup last year at Mid-Ohio so we'll have a good baseline to start with. Being repaved will change some of the lines. With the concrete in the corners of the last layout there were sometimes some unconventional lines and I think those will slowly disappear as the rubber is laid down on the new surface. I'm not sure what to expect with lap times. That will depend on the abrasion of the course but I expect it will be faster. The same will happen with tire wear. If the track is less abrasive, as I expect it will be without the concrete patches, we'll have less wear on the Michelin tires. I'm looking forward to the new asphalt. It's an equalizer because it is new for everybody. We aren't completely in the dark because the layout is the same. However, I think there will definitely be a different setup on the car at the end of the weekend than where we finished last year."