Sebring: Petersen/White Lightning hour eight report

SEBRING, Fla., March 18, 2006 -- With four hours remaining in the 54th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, 2005 GT2 race winning Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing has had a day of very highs and very low, lows. Currently, the No. 31...

SEBRING, Fla., March 18, 2006 -- With four hours remaining in the 54th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, 2005 GT2 race winning Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing has had a day of very highs and very low, lows. Currently, the No. 31 MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR runs ninth in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), GT2 class. Drivers Jorg and Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Nic Jonsson (Buford, Ga.) are ten laps down to the class leader. However, the team had worked its way from fifth to the lead twice in today's event.

At the four hour mark, Jorg Bergmeister took the GT2 class lead in the No. 31. However, just nine minutes later, the '05 GT2 Driver Champion reported an odd feeling in the back of the car. The problem got worse causing the rear of the Porsche to sway from side to side radically. At the race's four hour, 12 minute mark, Bergmeister entered the pits. Upon review of the left rear suspension, the team replaced the lower control arm and returned to course in eleventh position. In-all, the replacement was another remarkably quick repair job by the Dale White-managed team taking place in 20 minutes. The team then had to serve the first of two penalty stops. This one minute session occurred at 4:42 in the race's running time for too many men over-the-wall. A second one minute penalty came following the team's sixth pit stop when, upon leaving the pits, Tim Bergmeister ran over the small, metal plate that holds the front tire during pit stops.

In total, Petersen/ White Lightning Racing have performed eight pit stops in the first eight hours of racing in the season-opening race of the ALMS. However, the last two have occurred under very different circumstances than the first six. Prior to the quick change of the lower control arm, Crew Chief Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas) badly twisted and sprained his right ankle eliminating him from pit lane duties. Chizma, responsible not only for the overall maintenance of the car, is also the air gun operator on the passenger-side of the car. With Chizma out, the team had to make quick changes to its pit stop organization- considered one of the fastest in the paddock. Tire technician Troy Hildreth (Seattle) will go over the wall handling tires on the driver side of the car for the remainder of the event. Drew Cushman (Las Vegas) moves from the driver side to the right side handling the tires, air jack and oil. Nico Castellaccio (Tracy, Calif.) stays on the right side of the car but will work the air wrench rather than handle the tires. Dean Richardson (Atlanta) moves from "deadman" valve operator to fire bottle. Zach Nieves (Greenville, South Carolina), an honorary pit crew member from the Porsche Corral making his first visit to a race, took Richardson's duties.

Dale White, Team Manager: "We were working our strategy perfectly up to the control arm change. But, we aren't giving up. We are going to work as hard as we can to get as high as we can. We also have to look at the season as a whole so we want to score as many points as we can here today. There is still a lot of racing left to go and the car is working very well."

-pm/wlr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Richard Dean , Tim Bergmeister , Nic Jonsson