Broken Shift Lever Levels Petersen/White Lightning Mosport Day 2005 GT2 Champions Show Speed to Challenge, But Forced to Finish Sixth BOWMANVILLE, Ont., September 3, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing was among the quickest...
Broken Shift Lever Levels Petersen/White Lightning Mosport Day
2005 GT2 Champions Show Speed to Challenge, But Forced to Finish Sixth
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., September 3, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing was among the quickest GT2 class cars at today's Mosport Grand Prix. Despite starting near the back of the four-class sports car field, the 2005 American Le Mans Series GT2 Champions quickly moved to second for most of the eighth-round of the American Le Mans Series season. However, with approximately one hour remaining in the two hour and 45 minute race, a broken shift lever on the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR would drop the car to a disappointing sixth-place finish. Although frustrating, the result would keep team driver Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) in second-place in the driver championship chase. He dropped from a nine point deficit to 16 markers arrears but retains the position entering the final two events of the season.
The Michael Petersen-owned team had started 20th overall, eighth in class, after qualifying third. The defending race champions were forced to the back due to a scheduling conflict that kept Bergmeister from taking part in any of the event practices. Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.), taking the green flag at Mosport International Raceway, wasted no time moving his way up entering the first turn of the 10-turn, 2.459-mile facility sixth at the green flag. He would complete lap one in fifth. America's only Porsche factory driver would be third ten minutes into the event and second before the half-hour mark. Long handed over the Petersen/White Lightning entry to Bergmeister one hour and 24 minutes into the race. Bergmeister began his charge on the leading Ferrari before the carbon fiber shaft of the gearshift lever snapped as he downshifted from fifth gear to fourth entering the third turn. Now stuck in fourth gear, Bergmeister limped the car back to pit lane where the Dale White-managed crew removed the damaged unit and replaced it with a new part in a remarkable six minutes, 37 seconds. Despite the speedy exchange, they would fall four laps back. Bergmeister returned to the track and immediately began running laps quicker than the class leader. However, not enough time remained in the event to allow them to gain any positions.
Two races remain on the 2006 schedule. The 10 hour/1,000 mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on September 30 pays 26 points to win, six more than the "sprint" races like today's Grand Prix of Mosport. The season-finale, October 21, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca offers 24 points to win its four hour endurance race.
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "It was a disappointing day, for sure. We had a really fast car and it looks like we made the right choice on changing the car to a dry setup this morning. Jorg was running times quicker than the leader and we had our fuel strategy planned-out. The guys had a good stop to fix the gearshift lever but you can't recover from falling four laps down with only an hour to go."
Jorg Bergmeister, Driver: "Patrick did an awesome job coming from last to second. We had a good car but, unfortunately, going into turn-three, on the downshift, the gearshift lever broke and stuck in fourth gear. We had to change it and that cost the race I guess."
Patrick Long, Driver: "The car was good early on in the stint. We were at a conservative pace early because we knew we had the car to run at the front. We didn't want to take any extra risk. When the Aston spun at the green I was able to go in a different direction than everyone else. It paid-off at the end of the straight-away and I got around a few cars going into [turn] one. Before the first caution we were able to get around the two Ferraris and then it was just settling into a rhythm and trying to give Jorg a car without any scratches on it. It is tough luck. The team soldiered on and got the car back out for the points which is important for Jorg and the team championships. Petit and Laguna pay a lot of points so we still have a shot at this thing.