Laguna Seca: Petersen/White Lightning qualifying report

Petersen/White Lightning to Start Third in American Le Mans Final 2005 GT2 Champs Finish Third in Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge MONTEREY, Calif., October 20, 2006 - In one of the busiest days of the season, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning...

Petersen/White Lightning to Start Third in American Le Mans Final 2005
GT2 Champs Finish Third in Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge

MONTEREY, Calif., October 20, 2006 - In one of the busiest days of the season, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing walked-away with a pair of thirds. The 2005 American Le Mans Series GT2 Champions will start third in the GT2 class for tomorrow's four hour Monterey Sports Car Championships here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany), who is second in the GT2 Driver Championship just four points out of the lead, turned a lap of one minute, 24.299 second lap around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course for the third quickest time of the 20-minute qualifying session. Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.), who is third in the point standings, will share the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Bergmeister. The two joined with Michael Petersen-owned team in 2005 to win the event here in Monterey on their way to the combinations first American Le Mans Series GT2 championship.

Earlier in the day the Dale White-managed team finished third in the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge. The Petersen/White Lightning effort had earned a spot in the prestigious competition for the pit crews by virtue of a dominating victory in the event's semi-finals at Road America earlier in the year. The Dennis Chizma-lead crew accumulated the fourth-lowest cumulative time in the six-round competition placing themselves into the consolation round of the finals. A time of 43.89 seconds in the finals was their best time of the day and the third quickest time of the event overall. The stop earned the team the third-place finish and ranked as the second fastest time of the four stops turned in the finals.

The team now faces the biggest challenge of the weekend in the event which will finish just after sunset Saturday evening. The four-hour finale will decide the 2006 GT2 Champions and the Las Vegas-based team is in the thick of all three title bouts. Bergmeister is currently four points out of the championship lead for the Driver standings while the team is 10 markers behind the leading GT2 Ferrari program in the Team Championship and four behind the Flying Lizard Porsche. Petersen/White Lightning is seven markers arrears in the IMSA Cup standings. 23 points are available at Laguna Seca with points awarded on a descending scale to the top-ten. Each competitor must complete a minimum of 70% of the race, just less than three hours, to be awarded points.

Quotes: Dale White, Entrant/Team Manager: "We have waited all season for this moment. We've gone through the entire weekend and now the race is about here and we're feeling very good. It's a long race and anything can happen but we've gone through our pre-race preparations and the whole team is ready to go. We all want to get to the start so we can get down to it. We're here to win. There are a lot of scenarios that can happen where we can win the championship without winning the race but that isn't what we race for. We race to win and that is our goal for tomorrow. No one on the team will be happy with anything less."

Jorg Bergmeister: "I think we have a really, really good race car. In qualifying I had to fight a little too much oversteer. We did a good job but the Ferrari is a different league. Third place is not too bad but we'll see where we end up and, hopefully, we can earn another championship. When the sun was down in yesterday's test the car handled really well. We had the quickest car by far then. I am optimistic that it should be the same tomorrow."

Patrick Long: "I think we are looking good. The longer the race, the better we seem to perform through strategy and perseverance. Jorg did a great job to dig deep there in qualifying. I knew it wasn't going to be easy with the hot and sandy conditions. I don't think the Ferrari showed its hand until now. We'll take third and go into tomorrow knowing that a win will make this mathematically the easiest way to win a championship for the driver. I think the team has done a great job of staying persistent to find the right setup for the car throughout a stint. We ran well over our stint on our Michelin tires today and we really know we have a good race car. Qualifying was a small part of this and now we have that behind us and we'll just look forward to the race."

-credit: www.PetersenMotorsports.com

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Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Michael Petersen