Petersen/ White Lightning Announces 2006 Drivers -- 2005 ALMS GT2 Champions Back with Bergmeister and Long LAS VEGAS, Nev., March 1, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing, the 2005 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 ...
Petersen/ White Lightning Announces 2006 Drivers -- 2005 ALMS GT2 Champions Back with Bergmeister and Long
LAS VEGAS, Nev., March 1, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing, the 2005 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 Champions, confirmed the return of '05 Driver Champions Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas) to the No. 31 MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 RSR for 2006. Bergmeister and Long will be the core of the team's driver lineup for the season as the Las Vegas-based team pursues its second ALMS championship. Bergmeister, who became the first non-factory driver since 1999 to win the GT2 (formerly GT) title, will compete in each round of the ten race ALMS season for the Michael Petersen-owned team. Long, the first American driver to win the class title since '99, will compete in eight of the races. He will miss the team's defense of its '05 Sebring victory and the year's penultimate event, the Petit Le Mans, to compete in the Porsche factory's LMP2 effort for Penske Motorsports. As announced last week, Jorg Bergmeister will be joined in the No. 31 Porsche by his brother Tim (Langenfeld, Germany) and Nic Jonsson (Buford, Ga.) at the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.
"We're glad to have Patrick and Jorg back this season," offered team owner Petersen. "Although Patrick won't be with us for the 10 and 12 hour races, it will be nice to have the family all back together again. We are all looking forward to defending our title and race victories. With the driver lineup we have we are fairly confident. The competition should be very exciting for the fans and I think this will shape up to be a great year in the American Le Mans Series."
In 2005, Bergmeister and Long combined to win five of ten races, stand on the podium nine times and win two pole positions. The performance helped Petersen/ White Lightning, managed by Dale White (Bozeman, MT) become the first non-factory team to win not only the class title for drivers but also the Team and IMSA Cup Championships. The Las Vegas-based team dominated the class winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Road America 500, Grand Prix of Mosport, Petit Le Mans and the Monterey Sports Car Championship. They took second in the team's only non-ALMS start, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Bergmeister has established himself as one of the premier GT drivers in the world. He has earned 14 ALMS GT2 class wins in 38 starts, one 24 Hours of Le Mans ('04) and two 24 Hours of Daytona titles ('03 [overall], '02), three wins at the Petit Le Mans ('03 -- '05), and is the defending GT2 champion at the 12 Hours of Sebring. He not only holds the ALMS GT2 Driver's title but the 2001 Porsche Supercup, 2000 Porsche Carrera Cup and 1993 German Formula Konig championships as well.
"It worked out pretty well last year so I am very excited", said Bergmeister. "It is good. Patrick and I are not just teammates, I think we are also more friends. It isn't just normal business but it is more fun. So that is really cool. I am really excited about this year."
Long has become one of the most celebrated young, American drivers in all of motorsports. Along with Bergmeister he won 50% of the ALMS GT2 races in 2005 and won the class pole at the New England Grand Prix. He earned all five of his ALMS race victories last season with Petersen/ White Lightning as he did his 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 class win. In addition to the '05 ALMS title, Long also earned the 1998 Constructor's Cup Formula-A karting championship as well as four US National Championships in karting.
"I'm elated to join Petersen for my third year, second full season," commented Long. "It's bittersweet that I won't be running with the team in the long distance races but I feel like I'm still running for the championship. I'm a racing driver and any car, anytime, I'm going to be pushing for wins; especially with Petersen who has really become my racing family. It's an exciting year with all the competition and I think it's going to be one of the most challenging seasons ever in GT2. Defending a championship is never easy but I think we can be confident. I wish Jorg, Nic and Tim all the best in Sebring. I'm gracious to Mike and Dale for still considering me even though I couldn't be there the full season. It really boosts my confidence and I really feel like part of the family."