Laguna Seca: Petersen/White Lightning race report

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 16, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing were celebrated as the GT2 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Champions tonight here in Monterey, Calif. The American Le Mans Series' Night of Champions Banquet was the...

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 16, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing were celebrated as the GT2 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Champions tonight here in Monterey, Calif. The American Le Mans Series' Night of Champions Banquet was the site of a championship sweep for the Michael Petersen-owned team. Included were the ALMS GT2 Team Championship, a first for the team, and the GT2 IMSA Cup-- awarded to the highest finishing privately entered team in the class. Individually, Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) collected the first GT2 Driver Championship for each. Dennis Chizma (Seattle, Wash.), lead technician for the Dale White-managed team, was given the prestigious "Mechanic of the Year" for the GT2 class. Further honored was the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR which sat, along with the class winners in the three other ALMS categories of sports cars, to the right of the dais throughout the evening. The Porsche still carried the scars of yesterday's GT2 class victory at the Monterey Sports Car Championships.

Among the many awards that the Las Vegas-based team earned were impressive trophies for each title. Petersen and White received JeanRichard special edition watches as a memento of the championship that they have strived for since entering their first ALMS event in 1999. Bergmeister and Long also received special editions of JeanRichard time pieces to commemorate the 2005 championship. Chizma, who, along with Nico Castellaccio (Tracy, Calif.), joined the Petersen/ White Lightning team in 2000, was awarded not only a special trophy to designate him as a GT2 Mechanic of the Year, but also a check for $5,000 from Klein Tools.

The team had an impressive season of ALMS competition to win the GT2 title. They bookended the season with victories at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March and the four hour Monterey Sports Car Championships here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday. Between, they took three other GT2 class wins (Road America, Mosport and the 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans) and stood on the podium a remarkable nine times in ten races. They also earned a podium finish (their third) at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as they added a second to their two previous victories at La Sarthe ('04 and '05).

Beyond sweeping the GT2 titles, the team assisted technical and marketing partners Porsche Cars North America earn the GT2 Automobile Manufacturer's title with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and helped Michelin clinch the GT2 Tire Manufacturer Championship.


Michael Petersen, owner: "This night was an amazing finish to an amazing year. It means so much to me to have the guys here to celebrate a title that they earned. The drivers, the crew, everyone at Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing did an incredible job this season. I am so proud of the team. This was a goal, a dream, that Dale and I had back in '99 when we decided to go road racing together. Now it has come true at Laguna Seca where it all started. We will come back in 2006, roll the dice and see where we are at this time next year."

Dale White, team manager: "I am proud and honored to race with this group of guys. These guys are the best! To win this championship with this team is very special. To do it with my partner and friend Mike Petersen is a dream come true. We set goals together and we work to fulfill them together. We fulfilled one here tonight."

Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "I want to thank Mike and Dale for this. It is my honor to drive for this team. I have a great co-driver in Patrick and the crew gave us incredible pit stops all season. For sure, this is for every one on the team."

Patrick Long, driver: "It is Jorg and I that get the glory but it is the team that lets us be there to get it to begin with. Petersen/ White Lightning is a total team effort from the top down. Mike and Dale set the tone and it goes throughout this entire team. All season, even when things were down, they never gave-up, they never stopped believing. We're here tonight celebrating because of that."

Dennis Chizma, lead technician: "This is really special because we've all worked so hard for it. I'm excited and proud to accept this award but it really is about the whole team. No one could do this alone. This should be a team award and I am really proud to accept it for the team. When we started the year, I told Dale that if he gets me guys that work hard and he trusts me to do my thing, we could win the championship. I knew it. Once we had all the guys on the team in place at Sebring, I knew we really had it."

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Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Michael Petersen