Petersen/White Lightning Flashback to Bizarre American Le Mans Victory 2005 GT2 Champions Eager to Keep Claim on Top Step of Mosport Podium BOWMANVILLE, Ont., August 25, 2006 -- Flashback to September 4, 2005, Mosport International Raceway;...
Petersen/White Lightning Flashback to Bizarre American Le Mans Victory
2005 GT2 Champions Eager to Keep Claim on Top Step of Mosport Podium
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., August 25, 2006 -- Flashback to September 4, 2005, Mosport International Raceway; Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) sits inside the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in a gravel trap as the overall race leader takes the checkered flag. Long believed that the broken, left-axle that put him in the gravel with a two lap lead and less than two laps to go had cost the Michael Petersen-owned team its third victory of the season. In truth, the gap to second was great enough that the team earned the victory and would go on to claim the two remaining races and capture the 2005 American Le Mans Series GT2 Class Championship. Flash-forward to September 3, 2006, the date of this season's Grand Prix of Mosport. Long will again team with Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) in the MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche and the team again has two victories entering the only American Le Mans Series race outside of the United States. As was the case in 2005, the Dale White-managed team also narrowly trails in the GT2 points battle. After a mid-season surge has spurred them to second in the standings, Petersen/White Lightning is looking to keep the top step of the Mosport podium as their own private real estate for the second season in a row.
Petersen/White Lightning enters this year's two hour and 45-minute "sprint" race knowing that the weekend will get off to an odd start. Both drivers have scheduling conflicts causing them to miss on-track activity at Mosport. Each will take part in a two-day test at the dauntingly quick, 2.459-mile, 10-turn facility on Monday and Tuesday before leaving Canada. Long will return Saturday to take part in practice and qualifying. Bergmeister will return late Saturday night and will take part in the Sunday morning warm-up. Therefore, because Series rules dictate that both drivers take part in an official, on-track session, the No. 31, regardless of where it qualifies, will start the race at the back of the GT2 class field. The warm-up is not considered an 'official' session by the Series. Filling-in for the team's two regular drivers during Friday's one hour and 30-minutes test session will be team owner Michael Petersen (Las Vegas) and endurance-race team driver Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany), Jorg's older brother.
Following their class victory at Road America on August 20, Petersen/White Lightning is tied for second in the GT2 class Team Championship standings. They trail by nine points. Despite opening the season by leading two of the first three races, their first victory didn't come until the New England Grand Prix at mid-season. Since, the two-time 24 Hour of Le Mans class winners have led every event, earned two second-place finishes as the highest ranking Porsche and captured the Road America pole position, victory and Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge Semi-Finals. Jorg Bergmeister is currently second in the GT2 Driver standings, also nine points in arrears. The recent success shows a two-place swing in the standings for Bergmeister at Road America and a one place jump for the team. Since returning from France, Bergmeister has jumped an impressive seven places in the championship battle while the team has moved-up three. Long is currently listed fourth after missing the 12 Hours of Sebring while driving the Porsche RS Spyder in LMP2 class. He will also miss the Petit Le Mans. Since Lime Rock, Long has moved eight spots in the GT2 points.
The Grand Prix of Mosport will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel starting at 3 PM (ET) on September 3. Live timing and scoring and the American Le Mans Radio Web broadcast can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "Mosport is going to be a unique challenge for us. The team will operate as usual but we won't have our usual drivers in the car the whole time. Jorg and Patrick will be there to test for two days so we will know where the car setup will be for race day. Mike and Tim will step in to help us on Friday and Patrick will be back on Saturday to qualify the car. So, we aren't too worried. Both drivers know this track and the car and we know them. I don't think it will be a real problem. We're right back into the fight for the championship so we aren't going to let up just because the drivers can't be there every lap of practice."
Jorg Bergmeister, Driver: "It was probably the strangest win ever; without crossing the start-finish line to get the checkered flag and still get the win. But, that was a very important race in the championship last year and it will be again here this weekend. It will be an interesting race for us for sure. I will just be there for the warm-up and the race. But, that will be OK. With Mike and my brother Tim running the car on Friday and Patrick back on Saturday, it will be OK. Starting from the back will be tough. We will have to focus on getting through traffic cleanly. But the Petersen/White Lightning car has been quick all season and I think we can do it."
Patrick Long, Driver: "Last year was strange. When the axle broke 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. I was in shock and utter disbelief. I still can't really believe the way it worked. I was told at Road America that you can't win that way anymore but I am sure glad you could last year! It will be kind of a crazy week with all the traveling and missing some of the practice at Mosport. But, I have a lot of trust in the Petersen/White Lightning boys. I don't think we'll miss a beat."