Petersen/ White Lightning to Start 24 Hours of Le Mans from GT Point LE MANS, France, June 11, 2004 -- Defending LM GT champion Sascha Maassen, of Raeren, Belgium, set the fastest lap for the class in tonight's final round of qualifications...
Petersen/ White Lightning to Start 24 Hours of Le Mans from GT Point
LE MANS, France, June 11, 2004 -- Defending LM GT champion Sascha Maassen, of Raeren, Belgium, set the fastest lap for the class in tonight's final round of qualifications for the 24 Heures Du Mans. The lap of four minutes, 7.394 seconds just missed breaking the lap record (4:06.984) set here last year in a Michael Petersen-owned Porsche. The 21-time American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race winner was able to best his nearest competitor by over 1.1 seconds in the No. 90 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ mail2web.com/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfield, Germany), who set the pole speed in first-round qualifying yesterday with a time of 4:09.679 around the 8.6-mile Le Mans facility, took to the track doing a number of race set-up laps. Patrick Long (Oak Park, Calif.) took two different stints behind the wheel of the Petersen Motorsports' Porsche including the closing stint which fine-tuned the car for late night running during the June 12-13th endurance classic. The team also utilized Long to 'scrub' the Michelin racing slicks for the 72nd Annual 24 Heures Du Mans.
With the Circuit Des 24 Heures Du Mans now closed until Saturday morning's final race warm-up session (9 am local time), the Las Vegas-based team will begin the detailed preparation of the Porsche 911 for the grueling 24 hour race. Included in the extensive job list for the Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing team is a complete change of the Porsche flat-six engine and the gearbox. The team will also incorporate its preparation list-- hard-earned in nearly two-decades of off-road and sports car endurance competition-- that has achieved the Dale White-managed operation an 82% finish rate in professional road racing.
Mike Petersen, team owner: "To win pole position is an awesome feeling for the team and myself. But it is a very small piece to the giant puzzle. The race is a very long and grueling 24 hours. Many, many things can happen. But, for this short period of time we all will enjoy our qualifying position. With a lot of skill and a little luck hopefully we'll be in that same position or, at least, close enough to fight for the victory on Sunday afternoon. There's many people that I would like to thank: the team, Porsche, Michelin and all the other sponsors but, most importantly, thank you to my Mom."
Sascha Maassen: "I didn't have a lot of laps in the car and this was my first run in daylight and my only timed lap. I am happy that it worked out. But, I am sure that everyone in our car was able to do that. This just shows that our car is quick and we might not have to push it to 100%. So we can save a little bit. We can rule our pace and not have to hassle to drive another pace. The others have to look after us and that is good."
Jorg Bergmeister: "Sascha did a great job and the team as well. I think everything is well and ready for the race. On a qualifier we had a little too much understeer which was a surprise because Sascha had oversteer and we just made a little change. But, overall we have pole and I am happy.
Patrick Long: "The Michelin Tires were very consistent for us all week. The difficulty of an event like this is keeping the car consistent in both the day and the night. Michelin gave us a great tire that we knew would be there in daylight or in the darkness."