Petersen/White Lightning "Homecoming" at Salt Lake City 2005 ALMS GT2 Champs Bring New Momentum to New Venue TOOELE, Utah, July 7, 2006 -- In a sense, the Inaugural Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix on July 15 is a homecoming ...
Petersen/White Lightning "Homecoming" at Salt Lake City
2005 ALMS GT2 Champs Bring New Momentum to New Venue
TOOELE, Utah, July 7, 2006 -- In a sense, the Inaugural Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix on July 15 is a homecoming for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. With few professional-level road courses in the Nevada/Utah area, the new Miller Motorsports Park (Tooele, Utah) is the "home" track for the Las Vegas-based team. The Michael Petersen-owned operations returns "home" with the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Market Scan/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and drivers Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) as the conquering heroes fresh from a fairytale ending at the most recent American Le Mans Series race. The team took a car that they had never seen a week before the race to their first Series win of the season at the July 1 New England Grand Prix. That success and the feeling of racing near their home is giving the team a new swell of momentum as the American Le Mans Series launches the 4.5-mile, 24-turn course.
In 2005, the team won five races, including the last four events of the season, but, despite being the 2005 American Le Mans Series GT2 class Champions, the Dale White-managed team had suffered through the early part of the 2006 season. In the first three races, they would fall from the class lead twice to make lengthy repairs in pit lane costing them potential victories. Then, an 11th hour accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans destroyed the team's Porsche forcing a quick turn-around of a car purchased at the last minute. Bergmeister and Long then took the newly completed No. 31 to the class victory at Lime Rock Park.
Miller Motorsports Park marks the closest event on the schedule to the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winning team's shop. In fact, it is the nearest event to Las Vegas the Series has run since the 2000 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Petersen/White Lightning took a ninth-place finish at LVMS that season and another the year before. The new suburban Salt Lake City track is a world-class venue and the longest track the American Le Mans Series will compete on all season. The 24-turn layout is also one of the most challenging putting a premium on a driver's ability to learn the track quickly. The drivers who learn the Alan Wilson-designed course first, will be able to give their team a distinct advantage in chassis setup and low lap times.
The Utah Grand Prix will start at 6 PM (MT) on July 15. A tape delayed broadcast of the two hour and 45 minute event can be seen on CBS at 2 PM (ET) on July 16. Live timing and scoring can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Mike Petersen, Owner: "Unfortunately, I was not able to be there with the guys at the last race but they definitely did me proud with all the hard work. I think that goes to prove that we have the best team in the ALMS. We have a group of guys that built a car almost from scratch into a world class race car in less than a week! Of course, it doesn't hurt to have two of the fastest drivers in the world. Hopefully, the good luck will continue to swing our way. We are excited about getting to Salt Lake. I have been up there helping with some driving instruction and it is an unbelievable facility! It should be fast for the Porsches and I think it will be an exciting, clean race for the fans. We're going to keep pressing every race for the championship. There are still a lot of points available before this is all over."
Dale White, Team Manager: "We are looking forward to racing at Miller. Not only is it close to family and friends of Petersen/White Lightning, it is also an amazing facility. We've always been very strong at the longer tracks, like Road America and Le Mans, and at four and a half miles, Miller definitely fits that description. The team, our engineer Frank Funke and Jorg and Patrick always get up to speed very quickly. How quickly you can do things at a new track is really important. Learning a track this complex and making the setup changes you have to make as the temperature changes and the track gets more rubber laid down is really key. The teams that learn it the quickest will be in the best shape. We feel like we got a monkey off our back at Lime Rock with the win there. Now, we just want to keep that going. All the guys are really excited right now and we have a lot of confidence in the tracks that are coming up on the schedule."
Jorg Bergmeister, Driver: "I pick tracks up pretty quickly so I hope it will be the same with this one. It is always good to go out and walk or drive around in a rental car to get a first impression of the track. From there on it is not too difficult to figure out. It usually takes ten laps to learn in the race car because you are just learning the gears and the braking points. The Ferrari should be strong at Salt Lake because it is a brand new car. I hear the track is really smooth so that should be better at Salt Lake City than at Lime Rock. It definitely helped that we won in Lime Rock. We were quick all season we just didn't get the results. We will approach this race like all the others and just keep pushing. We have nothing to lose. All we can do is push and see where we end-up at the end of the season. We'll just go for more race wins."
Patrick Long, Driver: "Miller is special in that it is new and state-of-the-art. It's fast, flowing, long. It has plenty of passing, plenty of technical elements to it. It is new for everyone so that is nice, although some teams have already tested out there. I think everyone will have plenty of time to get up to speed. I like the idea that the race is going into the evening hours. That will be fun. As a team, we're building on momentum after Lime Rock and I think the Porsches will be very quick at Salt Lake. We still have some way to go to claw back into the championship. All we can do is go out and run like we are going to win every race. I think that's the attitude we will have to have the rest of the season whether we win them all or not."