Road America: Petersen/White Lightning qualifying report

Petersen/White Lightning Sweeps Major Activities at Road America 2005 GT2 Champions Win Class Pole, Klein Pit Crew Challenge ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 19, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing swept the two major events today...

Petersen/White Lightning Sweeps Major Activities at Road America
2005 GT2 Champions Win Class Pole, Klein Pit Crew Challenge

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 19, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing swept the two major events today here at Road America. The No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR won the GT2 class pole position for Generac 500 at Road America and the Semi-Finals of the Klein Pit Crew Challenge. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) looked deep within himself to capture the quick time on the 4.048-mile Road America facility after it looked like his best time would not be good enough. The lap of two minutes, 7.355 seconds, turned on his fifth and final qualifying lap, set a track record for the historic Wisconsin track bettering Bergmeister's own lap time of 2:07.577 set in 2004. The lap, the quickest of the weekend, barely edged the No. 23 Porsche by only 0.13 seconds. Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) will start the No. 31 13th overall in the 22 car field of the two hour and 45-minute "sprint" race. This is the team's third pole start of the 2006 season but its first at Road America.

Also adding to the celebration for the Michael Petersen-owned team was its domination of the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge. The Dale White-managed team turned a time 1.1 seconds quicker than its nearest competitor in the head-to-head battle that pitted the eight strongest pit crews in the American Le Mans Series, regardless of class, against one another. Led by Crew Chief Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas) the six-man 'over-the wall' crew did a driver change (switching Long for Bergmeister), simulated a fuel stop and changed four tires in only 42.604 seconds. 25 seconds of that time was set aside to mimic the fuel fill during which no work but the driver change can be done to the car. It was the second Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge qualifying-round that the Las Vegas-based team has won. They also took the honor at the inaugural event in 2005 at Road Atlanta but lost-out in the semi-finals. The team now moves onto the Challenge Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October with the three other quickest teams from here at Road America. The seven-time Series class race winners have the opportunity to collect an additional $100,000 Grand Prize by winning the final Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge.

Last year's Generac 500 at Road America set the closest GT2 finish in Series history with just 0.298 seconds separating the winning No. 31 from second-place. The win started a streak of four-straight victories to close the season for Petersen/White Lightning on their way to capturing the Driver, Team and IMSA Cup titles.

Quotes:

Michael Petersen, Team Owner: "The guys really stepped up to the plate. They pulled through in the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge and, to cap it off, we got our problems solved in time for qualifying. Jorg had an awesome run and we were able to claim the pole position. The pole is great for the team but ultimately we are here to win races and to put the pressure on the others to do the same."

Dale White, Team Manager: "This was just a great day for the team. Today really goes to show that it takes a team to win. The crew had just an awesome stop in the Klein Pit Crew Challenge to win that event. Jorg pulled out an incredible lap when he had to and won the pole. Frank [Funke, engineer] was able to take Patrick's input add it to Jorg's and create a fast race car. We also added a new technical partner, Drexler Motorsport, which added to the overall flow of the team. Drexler provided us with a new differential that made a big impact on the car this weekend. Everyone contributed to this today and that, even more than the results, makes it really gratifying."

Jorg Bergmeister, Driver: "Dale told me on the radio that Rocky [Mike Rockenfeller, No. 23] was on pole with a seven-four [2:07.485 lap] and I thought 'oh, I'm not sure I can do that.' But I tried hard on the last lap and it worked out. I am, obviously, pretty happy about it. The team and Frank Funke did an excellent job so I am happy. I think we should have a good race car tomorrow. The Ferrari seems to be struggling a little bit here so far. But, I think they will be quick in the race again. Road America has good passing spots so it should be interesting tomorrow. This is a difficult track to defend on because of all the places to pass. You have to watch your mirrors and think ahead a little bit of what the driver behind you will do."

Patrick Long, Driver: "It's always challenging starting on the front-row of GT2 because you're right on the back of GT1 and some of the LMP2 cars. From a qualifying standpoint I just have to say congratulations to Jorg. He really dug deep for that lap. We were looking like a second-place car and I think it was down to the talent and determination of Jorg to put it all on the line and find the speed. Frank did a great job of organizing everyone's inputs and thoughts. We were able to get a car that was drivable in qualifying but also a really good race car. The guys were back to their potential in the pit crew contest. These guys have carried a tremendous reputation of being one of the best in the business. Sometimes in the race their great pit stops are overshadowed by the drivers and the on-track action. The Pit Crew Challenge is great to show what they work so hard for and they nailed it today."

Dennis Chizma, Crew Chief: "This feels really good. We lost it last year because of a mistake. We felt like we had something to prove and this was our chance to do it. The competition has really been stepping it up so winning is an extra bonus to us. We definitely want to keep perfecting what we have. We think we have some time left in us. We need to concentrate at doing our best at that moment. We're just going to keep our heads down and keep working on it."

-credit: www.PetersenMotorsports.com

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Michael Petersen , Mike Rockenfeller
Teams HART