Sebring: Petersen/White Lightning Friday report

2005 ALMS Champs Confident In Preparation, Strategy and Event SEBRING, Fla., March 17, 2006 -- As the sun sets in Sebring, Fla., the defending GT2 class champions, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing, have finished the major ...

2005 ALMS Champs Confident In Preparation, Strategy and Event

SEBRING, Fla., March 17, 2006 -- As the sun sets in Sebring, Fla., the defending GT2 class champions, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing, have finished the major preparations for tomorrow's 54th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the season-opening race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Despite being one of the most competitive Grand Touring Two (GT2) fields in history and starting fifth in class, the team, which won five of ten events in 2005, is optimistic about their chances in tomorrow's once around the clock event. With only the morning warm-up session remaining before the green flag falls on the No. 31 MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the team is confidant in their pre-race preparations, their race strategy and how the event will play out.

Knowing that new entries from Ferrari and BMW and the rejuvenated Panoz program would be quick in practice and qualifying, the team continued its long-held focus on race setup. Refusing to be drug into the lap time battle, drivers Jorg Bergmeister, his brother Tim (both of Langenfeld, Germany) and Nic Jonsson (Buford, Ga.) worked on tuning their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for the hour-long stints that will come between pit stops.

With a 71% career record for podium finishes in races four hours or longer, the Michael Petersen-owned operation has a wealth of knowledge in the flow of races of this nature. Following the week of testing, the Porsche is working well over long runs and the bumpy Sebring International Raceway circuit. The strong setup has allowed Petersen and team manager Dale White to plot a strategy not unlike the classic tortoise and the hare. While the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winning effort is far from a turtle's pace, they plan to run consistent laps, maintaining their Michelin tires throughout the runs. Experience suggests that consistent lap times will win out over fast initial laps followed by a string of slower laps.

Quotes:

Dale White, team manager: "We are going to run our race. We aren't going to let them too far out of our sights but we aren't going to be pulled into a fight to set fastest lap each time around. We're fast and have the fastest crew in the business for pit stops. We are confident that we'll be there in the end. You don't have much chance of winning if you aren't there at the end of 12 hours."

Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "I think we are where we want to be. Sure, you'd like to be the fastest every session but for us, we learned last year, that it is more important to be consistent. This is like a sprint race and we will run hard every lap but we aren't going to endanger the car just to run low lap times. We want to be there at the end."

-pm/wlr

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Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Michael Petersen , Nic Jonsson