Road Atlanta: Petersen/White Lightning race report

Petersen/ White Lightning Podiums At Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., April 17, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing earned their 12th career podium finish in American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class competition at today's Grand...

Petersen/ White Lightning Podiums At Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga., April 17, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing earned their 12th career podium finish in American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class competition at today's Grand Prix of Atlanta. The third-place finish keeps the GT2 class points lead firmly in Petersen/ White Lightning's hands after a season-opening victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) shared driving duties in the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche GT3 RSR for today's two hour and 45-minute sportscar event at Road Atlanta. Bergmeister started and finished the heavily contested race with Long running the middle stint on the 2.54-mile facility.

Bergmeister started from second on the GT2 grid but an early lap incident, which forced the Le Mans winner off the track, cost the team several positions. After fighting back to third place, Bergmeister handed the Porsche over to Long just minutes after the one hour mark. Long held firm to the third spot despite heavy pressure and a caution flag that put the No. 31 Porsche down nearly a full lap. With 25-minutes remaining, the Las Vegas-based team again pitted and Bergmeister slipped back behind the wheel. He would cross the start-finish line third in class as the highest finishing non-factory effort, earning the Michael Petersen-owned team its sixth career IMSA Cup for privateer entrants.

The podium continued a streak of strong performances by the 13-man team. The Sebring victory came from the class pole position. The second in qualifying for today's race was complemented by a complete domination of the first Klein Tool Pit Stop Challenge yesterday.

The team will travel to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for the third round of the ten-race ALMS schedule on May 22.

quotes--

Michael Petersen, team owner: "A third place finish is not exactly where we wanted to be but it keeps us good in the point's race. We were probably just a little bit off in the setup. The guys drove hard and we played some strategies that gapped the cars behind us. We look forward to Mid-Ohio and continuing with where we are. There is a lot of racing left in the rest of the year and we'll just see what happens and where we are at."

Dale White, team manager: "This kept the weekend going well. It'll keep the momentum and that is important going into Mid-Ohio and Le Mans. The race at the front of the pack was great and we were working hard to get a little closer to it but we'll get back up there next race. This really goes to show how many teams and cars can win in this class. That's why Petersen/ White Lightning is here. We want to win but we want to win against the best competition. This race out there today shows that GT2 is the place to do that."

Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "I had a little incident with the [number] 45 car in the chicane. I tried to leave him some room but he preferred to push me off in the dirt. I lost quite some positions there. I picked-up a lot of understeer and couldn't go the pace with the leaders. In my last stint the car was much better. By then I was, more or less, the fastest GT2 car on the track. The Panoz was really strong and so was the 23 car. I'm looking forward to Mid-Ohio. I like that track and we should be good there."

Patrick Long, driver: "The middle stint for me was pretty eventful. There were quite a few safety cars and cars going off; a lot of debris and a lot of restarts. The pace was coming-up in the car when we came in on that third yellow flag to give Jorg the car back for the ending. The team did a great job on the strategy. Unfortunately, we got caught out by one of the safety cars and that kind of bit us. Overall it was a good race."

-pwl-

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