Petersen/ White Lightning Takes GT Title at 24 Heures Du Mans
LE MANS, France, June 13, 2004 -- A 24 Heures Du Mans ranks as one of a handful of sporting events that transcends the everyday and makes its victors legends. Today, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing became a legend. Michael Petersen (Las Vegas) and Dale White (Las Vegas) combined with American Le Mans Series (ALMS) rival Alex Job Racing to win the 2003 title but turned their full attention to winning a second Le Mans LM GT class victory-- 10th overall-- with their own Las Vegas-based team. The No. 90 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ mail2web.com Michelin Porsche set the standard at pre-race testing in April and again in practice and qualifying earlier this week with Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfield, Germany), Patrick Long (Oak Park, Calif.) and Sascha Maassen (Raeren, Belgium) driving.
The event started off in dominating fashion. The second-year Le Mans team led every lap but one-- falling to second while making its first pit stop before the sequence returned it to the lead. However, in the tenth-hour of the historic event, a shift linkage broke forcing and emergency 20 minute pit stop. While the stop set a standard for such changes, it dropped the team out of immediate contention for the top-spot. And, in several minds outside of the tight-knit group headed-up by crew chief Stefan Pfeiffer (Silo, Island Krk, Croatia) and lead technician Kent Moore (Las Vegas), out of consideration for the race win. Two laps down, the team began to claw its way back to the front of the pack. Slowed once by a broken shock, once by a broken throttle cable and once by a brief spin off circuit, the procedures in-place by Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing and exact driving introduced the team back into contention. Pressing its competitors hard, the Westward Ho car passed on-track, in the pits and outlasted all comers to take the American team's fifth endurance sports car race. The race marked Maassen's second consecutive Le Mans victory, Bergmeister's first and rookie Patrick Long's first.
Mike Petersen, team owner: "The 24 Hours of Le Mans definitely shaped-up to the race we thought it would be. It was as see-saw battle back and forth. A truly hard-fought battle but due to the superior skill of our team and a little luck we were able to bring home a championship that was well deserved to the Petersen Motorsports crew. This has always been a goal of mine to win this race ever since I was a little boy. And, to do it as a true team effort, to me, is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. I hope to carry this momentum into the following races in the American Le Mans Series as we will definitely prove to be a formidable challenge to the top running teams in ALMS. I cannot thank the whole team enough for all of their hard work and dedication. I know it was long and tough on everybody, including myself, but we prevailed in the end. And thus, a goal of everyone's was achieved in a tight fought battle."
Dale White, team manager: "You start putting all of these little things together a year-ago with a goal of winning this race. When you start you have so many things on a list you never know how you can get them all done. But, one by one they get done and before you know it you are here. For better or for worse it all comes together. This time it all came together for the better. All the guys really came together. I am so pleased and so proud of these guys. This was a real team effort from Mike on down. I am just thrilled to be a part of it."
Jorg Bergmeister: "Honestly, when we had the problem in the night I already thought 'oh it's over.' It's even nicer being here now. The team really did a great job and the car was running without any major problems, just the little cable. I'm really happy and have to say 'thank you' to my team and my teammates. Right now I am a little too tired to know what this means to me. It's definitely a big race and it's nice to win here for sure. It's pretty cool."
Patrick Long: "I'm grateful to belong to this successful victory. Everything from the beginning of having Dale and Mike offering me the drive to getting to work with two new teammates. All through the pretest, on through the race it has been a happy family. Right from the first night I felt welcomed and, as we spent more time together it felt awesome. To have this victory as my first sports car victory is really beyond what words can say. Other race wins and championships will come but I think this is a memory in life."
Sascha Maassen, driver: "I am very, very happy. We were the quickest car but to win you have to have a little bit more. You have to have some luck and today we had both. We had a very good car, a great team and great teammates. We had a little bit of trouble but we didn't give-up. Those guys pushed very hard and, in the end, we were very lucky and we survived and I am just so happy. I thought we had all the bad luck but, in the end there is a racing god and we got some good luck."
For more, please visit www.petersenmotorsports.com.