Petersen/ White Lightning Hopes to Celebrate Independence Day with Podium Return LAKEVILLE, Conn., June 28, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing is back in the United States with its full attention on the American Le Mans...
Petersen/ White Lightning Hopes to Celebrate Independence Day with Podium Return
LAKEVILLE, Conn., June 28, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing is back in the United States with its full attention on the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class championship. Having earned three podium finishes in the first three races of the ALMS season-- including a GT2 class victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring-- the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans champions now return to North America after nearly a month in Europe preparing for and competing in the 73rd Annual 24 Hours of Le Mans. The No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR enters Monday's New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park with drivers Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) holding a 19 point lead in the ALMS GT2 class driver championship chase. The Michael Petersen-owned team holds a 14 point advantage in the GT2 team points' battle.
At only 1.54 miles in length, Lime Rock Park, here is Lakeville, Conn., is the shortest track on the ALMS schedule. As such, the two hour and 45-minute 'sprint' race for the sports car series presents special challenges to the Dale White-managed team. Fresh off 24 hours at the longest course Petersen/ White Lightning will compete on all season, the 8.48-mile Circuit De La Sarthe in Le Mans is the exact opposite of the New England course. Round-four of the 2005 ALMS championship will see lap times for the production-based Porsche 911 at just under one minute versus just over four minutes at Le Mans. Traffic will also play a major factor as the eight-turn track has several elevation changes and tight turns that makes seeing the faster classes closing on the No. 31 very difficult as Bergmeister and Long race against others in the Grand Touring Two (GT2) class.
The Michael Petersen-owned team returned from its pursuit of an unprecedented third-consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 title by an American, privately-owned operation earlier this week with a focused approach to win its first ALMS GT2 championship. The Las Vegas-based team ran to an impressive second-place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 19th after suffering a qualifying accident just days before the most famous sports car race in the world. With very little time to fix the heavily damaged nose of the Porsche, the team performed impressively shadowing the winning-effort for most of the event, even taking the lead briefly. Despite an assortment of pit stops besting even their impressive records set for fuel, four Michelin tires and a driver change, the Petersen/ White Lightning entry came-up just over two minutes short of its third title. The team, led by crew chief Stefan Pfeiffer (Croatia) and lead technician Dennis Chizma (Seattle, Wash.), won the inaugural round of the Klein Tools Pit Stop Challenge at Road Atlanta prior to Le Mans. They will now perform a complete overhaul to the Porsche including changing the six cylinder 'boxer' engine and the six-speed, sequential gearbox prior to Friday's first day of open testing in Lime Rock.
Michael Petersen, owner: "I sure am ready to get back to the main goal of the Petersen/ White Lightning team; which is to keep plugging away and score points and podiums finishes towards winning the championship. With the big hurdle of Le Mans behind us, we can all move forward and give some stiff competition to the other GT2 entrants. I will not be at this race but the boys will do just fine without me. Hopefully, they'll give me something to celebrate with family over the Fourth of July weekend. I know the entire team is ready to get to business in the ALMS as this should be an exciting return to Lime Rock. We are very hungry for the top spot! I know that my son is very excited to watch the race on TV with me!"
Dale White, team manager: "We're ready to get back to our number one task; winning races and the GT2 title. Lime Rock is about as far from Le Mans as you can get when it comes to the track layout. However, it takes the same 'big picture' thinking to be successful. It's almost as if the two are so far apart they come back together at the ends. Strategy and being quick out of the box are incredibly important at both tracks. Even though many of our toughest competitors were at Le Mans, we'll have them all back at Lime Rock. This race will give us a pretty good sense of what we're looking at for the rest of the season."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "Definitely the focus is on winning the championship now. But, therefore, we need to win races. Lime Rock should be a good track for the Porsche. The grip level is not too high and you need a balanced car especially coming on and off the concrete patches."
Patrick Long, driver: ""Traffic is my biggest concern at Lime Rock. The track is so fast, and lap times are so quick, that the prototypes are on top of the GT2 cars very quickly. With the elevation changes and narrow circuit you can't always see them coming. You'll look in your mirror one second and they won't be there and they'll be on your bumper the next. They can get pretty impatient. When they do that is where trouble can start. We're out there racing our own race and the prototype guys are racing theirs. It can get pretty hairy at times. No one wants to wait because you really don't have time to wait. But, sometimes patience is the smartest way to go. Going for broke at Lime Rock can end your day pretty quickly."
Live coverage of the Grand Prix of New England can be seen on SPEED Channel at 3 PM (EDT), Monday, July 4th. Live Timing and Scoring as well as the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
More on Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing can be found at www.PetersenMotorsports.com. Learn more about Porsche at www.Porsche.com.