Bergmeister Runs Fifth in Today's 74th Annual Le Mans Qualifying LE MANS, France, June 15, 2006 -- After taking the LM GT2 class provisional pole position for the 74th Annual 24 Heures du Mans yesterday, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning...
Bergmeister Runs Fifth in Today's 74th Annual Le Mans Qualifying
LE MANS, France, June 15, 2006 -- After taking the LM GT2 class provisional pole position for the 74th Annual 24 Heures du Mans yesterday, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing returned today to run the fifth quickest time in final qualifying session. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) turned a lap of four minutes, 5.700 seconds in the No. 90 Krohn/ Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR within the first 30-minutes of the fourth, and final, practice/ qualifying session. The team aimed at running their best lap in the cooler final moments of the first two hour session today or the earliest moments of the second two hour portion of on-track activity. Conditions at the historic track, which uses portions of dedicated race track and city streets, are traditionally the best for a quick lap in the minutes just before nightfall. The widow of opportunity gave Bergmeister, who has been on or near the top of the time sheets since arriving at Le Mans, a brief shot at the pole position. However, it wasn't meant to be as he slipped 2.26 seconds off the day's quickest time.
Bergmeister's lap was good for 41st overall. The two-time Le Mans-winning program had lapped the 8.6-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in a time of 4:39.912 in Wednesday's rain-soaked first day of qualifications to sit atop the class overnight.
Once darkness had set at Le Mans, any focus on qualifying was set aside to return full attention on preparation for the world's most famous sports car race. Nic Jonsson (Buford, Ga., USA) took over driving the No. 90 for the first time since a brief stint yesterday. Jonsson was quickly up to speed and easily cleared the mark of 115% of the pole time to be classified to race. Tracy Krohn (Houston, Texas, USA) ran in both the morning and evening sessions routinely lapping the No. 90 Michelin Tire-shod Porsche in the mid 4:20 range.
Krohn had the only "off" of the day for the Michael Petersen-owned team. He found the gravel trap at Tertre Rouge late in the second session. As he had been able to the day before, Krohn proceeded back to the pit lane. The mishap cost the team time on the track but no serious damage to the Porsche. Not so lucky was the class pole-winning No. 76 Porsche. Shortly after dark the car made contact with the retaining wall in the Porsche Curves and was heavily damaged. If the team is unable to repair the car, the Dale White-managed operation would move up one position into the top-four of class.
The drivers will now enjoy one day off the track before the 9 AM race morning warm-up. Bergmeister, Jonsson and Krohn will take part in one of Le Mans' great traditions, the Driver Parade through City Centre, on Friday at 6 PM. A Pit Walk is scheduled all day Friday for fans at the track.
The race, which starts at 5 PM (local)/ 10 AM (ET), Saturday, June 17, can be seen live on SPEED Channel beginning at 10:30 AM (ET), Saturday. All sessions and the race can be heard live on www.RadioLeMans.com. Live timing and scoring is available at www.LeMans.org.
Jorg Bergmeister, Driver: "I went out to the first set of qualifiers and made a mistake at the second chicane. But, other than that it was an OK lap. Then on the second set [of Michelin Tires] I pushed a little harder and, until Indianapolis, the lap was pretty good. Piccini tried to pass me but then didn't. He passed me at the Porsche Curves and from there he was in my way and destroyed my lap time. The car was good and, as always, I wanted to be on top. Really disappointing."
Dale White, Entrant/ Team Manager: "Unfortunately, on Jorg's first timed lap he wasn't able to get the tires up to temperature quickly enough. So, we didn't quite get the speed on the first set. He had it perfect for the second set of qualifying tires but traffic got in the way and ruined that lap. But, we don't focus on speed in qualifying. We never have. The race is what we are here for. We're going to focus on fuel mileage and trying to make the least mistakes of anyone in the class. The guys are working really hard to make sure the car is perfect for race day and the drivers know what they have to do. We're ready to go. Ready to get this thing started."