Petersen/ White Lightning Shows Strength On and Off Track at Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga., April 16, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing continued to show its strength early in 2005 here today at the Grand Prix of Atlanta. The 2005 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT2 class winning team dominated the first round of the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge in the morning earning the team $10,000 dollars in the premiere of the event. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) then took to the track in the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR grabbing the second-spot on the GT2 class grid for tomorrow's two hour and 45-minute American Le Mans Series (ALMS) sportscar event.
The Petersen/ White Lightning crew, led by Stefan Pfeiffer (Silo, Island Krk, Croatia) with Dennis Chizma (lead technician), Nico Castellaccio, Joey Seely and Andrew Cushman changing tires, Sam Andrus fueling and Troy Hildreth (tire technician) manning the fire extinguisher were the first team to battle the clock and a direct competitor in the contest. The Las Vegas-based team set the immediate standard when Bergmeister pulled the Porsche into the pit stall and, just over a minute later, Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) pulled the car out. The 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning effort easily dispatched all comers with a time of 60.932 seconds to change four Michelin racing tires, a 40-second simulated fuel filling and a driver change. The team's nearest competitor was over two seconds slower. Petersen/ White Lightning will now advance to the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge finals at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the ALMS finale in October.
On the track, Bergmeister's lap in the Petersen Porsche gave the team an excellent starting position for the second-round of the 2005 ALMS season. His time of one minute, 22.406 seconds bettered every Porsche in the field. However, the long straightaways of the Road Atlanta's 2.54-mile, 12-turn course played to the favor of the V8-powered Panoz chassis for its first pole position of the season over the Sebring pole winning Porsche of Petersen/ White Lightning.
The Michael Petersen-owned team will take the green flag at noon (ET) with television coverage, on CBS, starting at 1 pm (ET). Internet users can watch the two-time ALMS class winning team prepare for tomorrow's race by logging on to www.americanlemans.com and following the links to the Petersen Motorsports Paddock Cam Presented by Firetide.
Dale White, team manager: "Winning the Pit Stop Challenge is a real testimony to how hard the guys have been working. We have always prided ourselves on our pit stops. Over the years they have given us a lot of places on the track. This group is a great combination of guys that have been with us for years and guys that have been with us only since Sebring. They are communicating as well as any group I have worked with and that really showed today by beating our nearest competitor by over two seconds. With the performance of our drivers on the track and the crew in pit lane, I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It won't be easy, but this has been a good start to the weekend."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "We changed something right before qualifying that was a gamble that didn't work out. So we didn't put the peak at the front or the rear together so we couldn't use the Michelin tire as well. The time of the Panoz was really impressive. I think there was no chance we could have done that time any way. P2 is really good for the race. Right now for qualifying the car was really good but for the race we need to work in the opposite direction and we'll be OK. The track temperature has changed a lot so you have to adapt the car quite a bit on it so it will make the race interesting."
Patrick Long, driver: "Obviously I was pretty happy with today. We have a good car going into tomorrow and we'll keep working on it tomorrow morning. Jorg put in a great lap and I am really proud to have him as a teammate."