Portland: Petersen/White Lightning race report

Petersen/White Lightning Takes Third Straight Podium at Portland 2005 GT2 Champs Dominate ALMS Round-Six Until Final 25 Minutes PORTLAND, Ore., July 22, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing took their third straight podium of...

Petersen/White Lightning Takes Third Straight Podium at Portland

2005 GT2 Champs Dominate ALMS Round-Six Until Final 25 Minutes

PORTLAND, Ore., July 22, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing took their third straight podium of the 2006 American Le Mans Series season today at the American Le Mans Portland Grand Prix. The 2005 GT2 class champions finished second after dominating the first two hours and 20 minutes of the two hour and 45-minute event at Portland International Raceway. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) led from the first turn to the two hour and 20 minute mark in the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The runner-up spot, 14th overall, again placed the Michael Petersen-owned team as the highest-placing Porsche in the GT2 class field and moved them closer to the class point lead. By leading the majority of the race, the Dale White-managed team stretched its races led to five of six races run thus far in the ten event American Le Mans Series season.

Bergmeister, who started second on the GT2 class grid, took the lead at the first turn despite being pushed nearly into the pit wall by the pole-sitting Ferrari. He held the lead until pitting at the one hour, four minute mark turning the car over to Long who maintained the lead for another hour and 15 minutes. The Petersen/White Lightning strategy called for just two pit stops, the second being a five second splash of fuel with no Michelin tires changed and Long remaining in the car. The Ferrari stopped a total of three times. Long would retain the lead following the unbelievably quick pit work of the Las Vegas crew. However, he would relinquish the top spot one lap later as the Ferrari passed and drew away to a 20 second gap at the finish. Today's podium was the two-time 24 Hour of Le Mans class winner's 22nd podium finish in 52 career American Le Mans Series starts.

A tape delayed broadcast of today's race can be seen on CBS at 2 PM (ET) on July 23.

Quotes:

Michael Petersen, Owner:

"I'm selling all my Ferraris when I get home. No, just kidding. What a race. At the start we went from second to first in Jorg's stint. We pretty much had control of the race and kept an eye on the Ferrari and the BMW. Both were quite quick at this track. We got our first caution and decided to pit and do the driver's change. Patrick got in and did an awesome stint. I think we led about 85% of the race. We knew we had to do a quick splash and go somewhere in there. Then we were passed by the Ferrari. The guys did a fantastic job. We had a killer pit stop. One of the most important things we did was gain on the class leaders. Our goals for the next few races is to attack and win."

Dale White, Team Manager:

"I was very happy with the team's performance today. The drivers, the crew, everyone did a great job. Our strategy was spot-on but the Ferrari is just unbelievably quick. We aren't giving-up. We have a few ideas and several more races. We aren't here to run as the best of the Porsches. We are here to win."

Jorg Bergmeister, Driver:

"Second is a little frustrating but there was really no chance against the Ferrari today. The start was really good but Melo tried to push me into the wall. I don't know what that was for but, at the end of that he got payback when it was hit by another car. We were able to see the real performance of the Ferrari; it almost made-up a full lap. The whole team did a great job. Our car was great. Compared to the other Porsches, we looked really good. Not good enough for the Ferrari. I just drove my own pace and tried to keep the tires under me. I didn't push too hard. That worked just fine so I was able to do good times at the end of my stint."

Patrick Long, Driver:

"I think today was about endurance and we had a car that was fit for endurance. Barring the Ferrari, which seems to be in a different class, I think we had the other cars covered. It is a great feeling. It was a very challenging, very hot event. I had to do over an hour and 45-minutes without a cool suit. That was trying but I stayed focused and I am happy with the result. The guys did a great job. Frank nailed the setup."

-www.PetersenMotorsports.com

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Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Michael Petersen