The Battle Begins -- Petersen/White Lightning Opens Attack for First ALMS Title ELKHART LAKE, Wis., August 15, 2005 -- Having fallen from the top-spot in the GT2 class point championship for the first time since the start of the American Le...
The Battle Begins -- Petersen/White Lightning Opens Attack for First ALMS Title
ELKHART LAKE, Wis., August 15, 2005 -- Having fallen from the top-spot in the GT2 class point championship for the first time since the start of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing now has a new angle on the title but not a new approach. The Michael Petersen-owned team opened the season winning its class at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and has been on the attack for the team's first ALMS title since then. The ongoing strategy for the team has always been to win without consideration for points. A string of bad luck proved Murphy's Law at the Grand Prix of Portland, the most recent ALMS round, and resulted in the team's first trip off the podium in the first six races of the season. Drivers Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) fought-back from the bottom of the standings at Portland to finish eighth but fell six points behind the factory-supported Porsche of Alex Job Racing (AJR) in the standings. With the Generac 500 at Road America-- round seven of ten-- being run Sunday, August 21st, at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin's Road America circuit, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winners find themselves in a more familiar role of hunter instead of hunted. A role they have played well over the years.
The Dale White-managed team knows how to win championships with multiple class titles in off-road racing. The Las Vegas-based team opened 2005 with the goal of winning the IMSA Cup Championship- awarded to the highest finishing privately-owned entrant in each class- and currently holds a significant lead in that chase after capturing six of the seven event IMSA Cups awarded this season. Petersen and White altered their goals to include the overall GT2 title when it became apparent the team would be a serious threat to the AJR juggernaut that has dominated the sport in recent years. With the decision to compete in the full ALMS championship for only the third time since joining the series in 2000, it is the program's first serious threat for the title.
Road America could prove to be the perfect site for the team to return to victory lane and, with it, the point's lead. The team won its first ALMS class event here on the 4.048-mile, 12-turn track becoming the only team to topple AJR in 2003. They finished second, capturing the IMSA Cup, in 2004. Bergmeister was part of the winning driving duo here last year and in 2002 adding to the team's expertise at the longest course on the ALMS schedule.
The Generac 500 at Road America can be seen live on SPEED on Sunday at 3 PM (EDT). Live timing and scoring for all sessions as well as the Petersen Paddock Cam presented by Firetide can be viewed at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Mike Petersen, owner/ driver: "We are chasing the top spot after some very bad luck at the last race. This team is just too strong to let this happen and sit back. All of us enjoy the challenge and now the pressure is on some other team to keep their head above water. These next couple of races are our strong suit, as the fastest two tracks are getting closer. As the season winds down and the races get closer, we will be raising the bar to get back to the top of the podium and finish what we all want. The team has had good luck at Road America and we are looking forward to returning to Wisconsin. This will be business as usual and we can hardly wait to throw the hammer down!"
Dale White, team manager: "We took the time between the races to make some changes to the car. We put in the updated ECU (Engine Control Unit) and that should put us on an even footing with the other Porsche teams. Road America has always been one of our favorite tracks. We won our first Trans-Am race and our first ALMS race there. No matter who is behind the wheel we have seemed to perform well at Road America. This is the perfect track to get ourselves back into a winning rhythm. Our goal has been to win every race and that is going to continue to be our goal."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "It's definitely, along with Mosport, my favorite ALMS event. I really like the track and enjoy driving it. It reminds me quite a lot of the Nurburgring Nordschleife [the famous 15-mile long circuit in Germany] with all of the elevation changes and the blind corners. The last couple of years I always had a lot of fun driving there and it should be quite a bit of fun again this year."
Patrick Long, driver: "Road America presents a little different case in the championship. The key has always been to win races. We have to stay consistent and make sure that we don't have any more hiccups like two tough races. Luck goes in three and we have had three tough races; Le Mans, Sonoma and Portland. But, we are ready to turn this thing around. We're confident. I'm looking forward to getting back to work."
More on Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing can be found at www.PetersenMotorsports.com. Learn more about Porsche at www.Porsche.com.