Long Runs to Second Career Pole Position, Second Track Record LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 20, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing won its third career American Le Mans Series (ALMS) pole position here at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course...
Long Runs to Second Career Pole Position, Second Track Record
LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 20, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing won its third career American Le Mans Series (ALMS) pole position here at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today in dramatic style. Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) set a quick time of one minute, 22.638 seconds for the GT2 class pole, 14th overall, for tomorrow's American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio on the last lap of the 20-minute qualifying session driving on an oil-slick race track. It was Long's second career ALMS pole position, the first won last year at Lime Rock Park driving the No. 31 MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Petersen/ White Lightning. The lap was only .048 seconds quicker than the second fast GT2 car but was good for the track qualifying record for the GT2 class. Long will start tomorrow's two hour and 45-minute race handing driving duties over to fellow 2005 ALMS GT2 Driver Champion Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) who will finish the race. The first class pole position earned by the Michael Petersen-owned organization came at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2005.
While the Dale White-managed team had been quickest in every practice session leading up to today's qualifying run, the pole position was anything but guaranteed for the team. Long turned the second quick lap behind the No.62 Ferrari and was preparing for his flying qualifying lap of the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio circuit when he reported oil on the track. Concerned about the slippery surface, particularly bad in turns six and 11, Long momentarily considered pulling in. However, with the encouragement of the crew and a desire to be on top, America's only Porsche factory driver dug deep and pulled the fast lap time out in his last lap on the track. Despite the effort of several other cars, the No.31 held on to the pole position in the closing seconds of the session.
Today's pole position is the first for the team in 2006. They qualified second for the most recent ALMS event in Houston where they finished fourth after challenging for the lead.
The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will start at Noon (EDT) on May 21. Live coverage of the event can be seen on CBS at 1 PM (EDT), May 21. Live timing and scoring can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Mike Petersen, Owner: "This is where we have felt we could be all season. I hope that this is the change in luck that we have been looking for. Patrick did a really good job out there today looking deep on that last lap as there was a lot of oil out on the track. The whole team has been really focused on turning our luck around and I hope we can keep this momentum going into tomorrow. It's going to be a close race tomorrow but we are certainly working to come out on top."
Dale White, Team Manager: "This was a full team effort. Everyone on the team did their job... and more. Patrick did a great job of pulling that one off. Frank [Funke, engineer] has really brought his 'A' game to our program and that has made a big difference. He has been a great addition to our team. He gave us a great setup today for a track that looks like it would really favor the Ferrari. The guys have been working really hard on getting back onto the podium. Everyone is pulling together and when you have that, you get results like this. We're far from done and we're going to come back out here tomorrow with a desire like we've never stood on a podium before."
Patrick Long, Driver:
About Qualifying: "It was definitely an entertaining lap. We knew that the Michelin tires are very consistent here and that you can run a lot of laps without losing them. However, Frank and I made the decision to get down to business early to conserve our tires for tomorrow's race. We decided to get down to business early. Everything was going to plan until some oil was laid down by a car that had a hurt engine. Then we were left in a tough spot. Do we come in and let the oil dry up and then further wear the tires or do we try and persevere on and make it over the oil where we can? That is what we did and we were able to get the pole. It was definitely a lot of pressure on me. I knew the Ferrari was going to be tough. But, we got it in the end and that was great." About the car setup with the new pavement: "It is a moving target with the track changing. We are pretty confident. Our tire preservation has been awesome with the Michelins. Today we did our fastest lap of the day on tires that had over 40 laps on them. We should be getting more grip on the track into the race and at the end of the race."
Jorg Bergmeister, Driver: "So far the car has handled very well. Even with the increasing grip the car still handles pretty much the same. So, I don't think that the improving grip will be a big problem on the car. On old tires the car seems to be really competitive. Patrick and the whole team did an awesome job in qualifying. I told Patrick just before qualifying that it was all up to him. We all knew we had a great car. He nailed it and did a great job. About the competitiveness of the GT2 class at the end of the race: "You always have to see how the other cars are on the long runs. We will have an idea about that from the warm-up. So, we'll just do what we can do in the car and try and conserve the Michelin tires as much as you can."