Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Takes Top-4 In Long Beach Qualifying Impressive Comeback Continues for Two-Time Series Champs After St. Pete Accident LONG BEACH, Calif., April 13, 2007 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing...
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Takes Top-4 In Long Beach Qualifying
Impressive Comeback Continues for Two-Time Series Champs After St. Pete Accident
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 13, 2007 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing continued to prove its strength and determination in today's GT2 qualifying for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The two-time American Le Mans Series GT2 Driver Champions took fourth place in class, just .476 seconds off the pole position-winning No. 62 Ferrari. Dirk Muller (a native of Germany, living in Monaco) set the quick time, his fastest of the abbreviated weekend. Despite having started from the pole position at the first two events this season, today's lap of Long Beach gave a far superior sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned team. Less than a week ago, this car did not exist after a serious accident at St. Petersburg. Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) will start the No.31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT in tomorrow's one hour and 40 minute race, turning the wheel over to Muller to finish the event.
After the devastating accident that injured team driver Tomas Enge (from the Czech Republic now living in Monaco) and destroyed the team's Ferrari F430 GT on March 31, the Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed team set to work to create a new machine. Working 24 hours a day, in 15 hour shifts, the eight man, Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas) led team took just three days to create a race-ready Ferrari from a white tub (chassis and roll cage). A minor gearbox malady in this morning's only practice session provided the weekend's only serious mechanical problem. However, because of the limited track time, the issues magnified itself for the drivers who were very limited in practice time. Bergmeister has only three laps around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary track in Long Beach while Muller, the 2000 American Le Mans Series GT, now GT2, class champion has only a handful more. A 20-minute warm-up at 8 AM tomorrow is all that remains for the two drivers to learn the intricacies of the track.
Mike Petersen, Owner: "I think that qualifying was a reward for all the hard work for the guys. We aren't usually happy with fourth but after the last two weeks, we will take this one as if it is a pole position. I am really proud of the guys. Also, for Tim and Dirk to come out with so little time, in a brand new car and run this fast is very impressive. We are looking forward to tomorrow and moving to the front."
Tim Bergmeister, Driver: "The track seems to be very nice. I had the problem with the gearbox this morning and only had three timed laps and those with the problem. Most of the track is second gear corners and two first gear and no fourth gear corners. So it is much slower than St. Pete. There are no fast corners but the straight seems much quicker than even the straight at Sebring. I think passing is possible at the end of the long-straight but I need to know the track a little better to know the best place to overtake. In the warm-up I should be fine. After that the times should be quick enough."
Dirk Muller, Driver: "I much like the race track. Actually it is not very difficult to learn the track, it's not tricky. I really enjoy being here. I got disturbed a bit by the traffic on my qualifying lap. I wanted to get a free spot but when I went out I was already in the traffic. I think the fourth-place is good. I am very happy for the team as they have worked very hard. It is very close in the front. If you ran a 100% lap you could get on the pole position, the car is good for that. But, you are not getting points for a pole position and I want to win the race and not the pole position. There is more traffic from behind [from the prototypes] than when I was here before. Then you had the Audi, BMW and the Panoz. Now you have ton of Porsche and tons of Acuras and the Audi. But, other than that, it is just the same. It is very professional and I am feeling at home so it is good."
The Grand Prix of Long Beach will start at 4:05 PM (PT), Saturday, April 14.