Laguna Seca: Petersen/White Lightning Racing preview

Petersen/White Lightning Takes American Le Mans GT2 Title Down to Wire All at Stake in Monterey Championship Weekend for 2005 GT2 Champions MONTEREY, Calif., October 13, 2006 -- For Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing 2006 all comes down...

Petersen/White Lightning Takes American Le Mans GT2 Title Down to Wire
All at Stake in Monterey Championship Weekend for 2005 GT2 Champions

MONTEREY, Calif., October 13, 2006 -- For Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing 2006 all comes down to the American Le Mans Series season-finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Four-hours and four points separate the 2005 American Le Mans GT2 Champions from a potential second consecutive title. The Michael Petersen-owned team enters the October 20th Monterey Sports Car Championships with the momentum of their second Petit Le Mans class win in the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to help drive them forward. However, the four-hour, timed event holds a different dynamic than it did last season. In 2005, Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) used that momentum to carry the victory here at the season-closer; earning both drivers and the team their first GT2 Championships. A 2006 win here on the Monterey Peninsula will ensure consecutive GT2 Team, Driver and IMSA Cup titles; anything less than victory will leave the results in the hands of how their competitors faire.

Just as the battle has raged all season on the track, the GT2 points' battle has proven to be equally fierce; again providing one of the most furious in American Le Mans Series history. At the center of the tempest is Bergmeister. Following his fourth-consecutive Petit Le Mans class victory on September 20th, Bergmeister closed from a 16 point deficit to within four points in the GT2 Driver Championship. Long, who missed the season-opening round of the GT2 class to compete in the LMP2 class, currently sits third with hopes of moving to second in support of Bergmeister. The team is currently 10 markers behind the leading GT2 Ferrari program in the fight for Team Championship, four behind the Flying Lizard Porsche. Petersen/White Lightning is seven points back in the IMSA Cup standings for privateer entrants. 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 regardless of their finishing position. The 70% classification requirement means that the championship will almost assuredly come down to the final lap. Last season the overall winner covered 164 laps in the four hour race while the Dale White-managed team traveled 151 circuits in winning the GT2 class.

The championship-frenzy will build to its crescendo as the key moments of the three-day weekend click by. The first championship of the weekend will be decided on Friday, October 20. At 11:30 AM (PT) the Dennis Chizma-led Petersen/White Lightning crew goes head-to-head with three other Series competitors in the highly-charged Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge. The team earned a coveted spot in the Finals with a Challenge-leading quick time of 42.604 seconds in the Semi-Finals at Road America in August. The Round-Robin format will see the No. 31 crew first go up against fellow GT2 class competitor, the No. 21 BMW. They must also face two GT1 class teams; the factory efforts from Corvette (second round) and Aston Martin (round four). If they win the final round (whose participants are chosen from the two lowest cumulative times of the previous rounds) they will place their name on the Klein Tools trophy and take home the $100,000 check for first place. Later that day, the Las Vegas-based team will take to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course for a shot at their fourth class pole position of the season in the 20 minute GT2/GT1 class time trials.


Mike Petersen, Owner: "It has come down to the last race of the year and we're all looking forward to bringing out our 'A' game to Laguna. It should be quite exciting as it comes down to the last battle of the season. We have a fantastic team, awesome drivers and Laguna Seca is always a good track for us. We'll bring the best that we can and see what happens at the end of the four hour race."

Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "This is obviously a huge race. Everything comes down to winning. Last year we came to Laguna with the points' lead and as the favorites to win the title. This year, we come in as the challenger and I like that. I much rather be the hunter than the hunted. We know what we have to do to control our own destiny. We have our eyes set on winning the race. If we can do that, the championship will be ours. It's a pretty straight-forward assignment for us. Not easy to do, but pretty straight-forward."

Jorg Bergmeister: "So far, we have always had a really quick car. At the beginning of the year we had some problems but I hope we have that sorted out now. The last couple of races, except Mosport, have been really great. Performance-wise we have been the quickest Porsche. Then it depends where everyone else finishes. I hope that we have a shot of doing the same as we did last year winning the race. If we can do that it will be the perfect way to end the season. One race ago, I didn't think we would have had a chance to win the points but the success at Petit gives us a good shot again."

Patrick Long: "It's all about beating the [number] 45 car for the championship. But there are so many scenarios and variables that if we stick to our plan and go out and race for a victory, the rest will take care of itself. It is hard not to think about the championship but it is less of a pressure situation than last year. It is just about getting down to business and doing what we have been doing the second half of the season."


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Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Michael Petersen