Petersen/ White Lightning Takes Back-To-Back GT2 Wins with Bizarre Mosport Finish BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Can., September 4, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing won a dominating victory at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) ...
Petersen/ White Lightning Takes Back-To-Back GT2 Wins with Bizarre Mosport Finish
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Can., September 4, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing won a dominating victory at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. They added the closest GT2 victory in ALMS history at the most recent race at Road America. Today, they added the most bizarre victory in Series' history with a GT2 class win here at the Grand Prix of Mosport. A victory that came as the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was sitting on the side of the track at the exit of turn-three with a dejected Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) thinking he had lost the event with less than a two laps to go. However, due to an impressive first stint by teammate Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and a remarkable pit stop by the No. 31 Petersen/ White Lightning crew, along with Long's impressive run for the checkered, the Michael Petersen-owned Porsche had worked enough of a lead to take the victory without taking the checkered flag.
With the announced two hour and 45-minute race already shortened by 15-minutes in deference to fuel shortages and hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast of the United States, the annual stop at Mosport International Raceway's dauntingly quick 2.459-mile, 10-turn facility started with a unique set of circumstances. By the end of the day the Series would see its most unusual finish as both the winning and second-place finishing cars in the GT2 class failed to cross under the checkered flag. From the start the large crowd in attendance and those watching on SPEED would see an incredibly competitive race as Bergmeister, who started second, stalked the pole-winning No. 23. Unable to pass on the track, the Petersen/ White Lightning crew went to work in the pits at the one hour and 16 minute mark. A blazingly fast stopped allowed Long-- who had traded the driver seat with Bergmeister during the service of fuel and four new Michelin tires--to return to the track in front of the 23-car. The stop would prove to give the Westward Ho Casino Porsche a nine second lead after all pit stops had been made.
Long held the lead in a nip-and-tuck battle until the 23 car pitted for an extended stop and would fall to seventh in the standings. Now with a lap on the field it would seem an easy cruise for Long until the driver's seat began to shift under him. Forced to extend himself to reach the pedals at first, and then to see in his mirrors, Long's lap times slowed slightly but he was never seriously challenged. Then, with two minutes to go, the unbelievable happened as the left rear wheel came flying off the car as Long exited the third turn of the Canadian circuit. Unable to continue, Long sat thinking he had lost his third career ALMS victory. It was not the checkered flag that informed Long he had won but, instead, the IMSA safety workers who were shuttling him back to pit lane. Because the overall leader crossed the line and the No. 24, which was running second, failed to cross the start-finish line as it ran out of fuel, the Dale White-managed team would celebrate its fourth career ALMS victory.
Today's victory also returned the Las Vegas-based organization back into the GT2 class points lead after a two-race stay in second. Problems with their primary competition, the No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, brought the No. 31 from a two-point deficit entering this weekend's eighth-round of the ten race schedule, to a 14 marker advantage. A third driver, to be named in the near future, will join Bergmeister and Long in the 10 hour Petit Le Mans scheduled to race at Road Atlanta on October 1st. The four-hour season finale will take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 15th.
Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing carried the 1-800-SAL-ARMY contact phone number on its Porsche to victory today. The team continues to encourage its supporters to call the number and speak with The Salvation Army to learn how they can best help those tragically affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Mike Petersen, owner: "What an emotional rollercoaster. For those of you not watching this race, you really missed out. We had a fantastic racecar and we were able to hound the opposition. Thanks to an awesome first stint by Jorg and a killer pit stop by the guys we were able to pull ahead. Patrick did a fantastic job. The 23 car started to close the gap and they dashed into the pits and, pretty much from there on out, we were in control of the race. With about two minutes to go I was out at the pit wall with Dale and we heard the crew yelling 'the tire!' So we came back to see the car on the side of the track. But, by the luck of the racing gods, we held on for the victory. I still can't believe it but it sure is a comforting thing to have the points lead back."
Dale White, team manager: "Jorg and Patrick did a great job for us today. The whole team has done everything we asked from them all season and, today, was the pinnacle of that. Their awesome pit stop gave us the lead and let us gap the 23 car. We'll use the successful from the last two races to carry as much momentum into Petit [Le Mans] as we can. Then we'll focus on Laguna Seca. We're still approaching this one race at a time."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "It was not as warm as we hoped it would be, but the hard compound Michelin tire was the right choice at the end of the stint. I was quicker than the 23. Unfortunately, I didn't have a real chance to pass because every time I came close, especially in the quick sections, I lost the front downforce and had to stay behind them. The guys had an awesome pit stop and we got the lead. Sorry about the bad luck the 23 car had. I would have preferred a fight to the end. But that is motorsport. It was probably the strangest win ever without crossing the start-finish line to get the checkered flag and still get the win."
Patrick Long, driver: "I'm full of praise for Jorg. For his incredible first stint, followed-up with the team's ever impressive pit stops. What could have been with the fight and the 23 car? Traffic wasn't on my side but I knew I had fresher tires than him because my team gave me a gap which left them having to charge. Towards the end of the race my priority was to bring the car home and make sure the fuel lasted until the end. Unfortunately, with less than two laps to go, something gave in the rear and I was left to consider what would have been while I was in the grass. On my way back to the pits in the safety car, the workers turned around, simultaneously, and told me we were on the top of the podium. Since then I have been in shock and utter disbelief. I can't say enough about the team's effort and my co-driver. I look forward in continuing on in the quest for the championship and those final two races."