SEBRING, Fla., February 20, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing will defend its Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT2 class victory with one of the most talented and interesting lineups in the team's history. Mike Petersen (Las...
SEBRING, Fla., February 20, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing will defend its Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT2 class victory with one of the most talented and interesting lineups in the team's history. Mike Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) announced today that his 2005 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 championship-winning team will open their season with second-year Petersen/ White Lightning driver Jörg Bergmeister, his brother Tim Bergmeister (both drivers of Langenfeld, Germany) and 2003 Petersen/ White Lightning Sebring pilot Nic Jönsson (Buford, Ga.). The trio will attempt to maintain the No. 31 MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR's streak of Sebring podium finishes with the 54th Annual 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18. The Dale White-managed team has never failed to earn a podium at the 12 Hours since its first event in 2003 having taken its first class win in '05.
The Bergmeister brothers mark the first siblings to compete at the world famous event in the same entry since 2000 (Don and Dale Whittington) and are the only pair to be entered in the same car this year. This will be their second time sharing a race car. The first time dates back to 1999 in the 24 hour event at the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife where they finished third in their class. The last brothers to win the 12 Hours of Sebring were Geoff and Gary Brabham in 1991.
Jörg Bergmeister won his first 12 Hours of Sebring last year with the Las Vegas-based race team in dominating style. Together with Patrick Long (Las Vegas), the two went on to win the GT2 Driver Championship while the team, in only its third full-season of ALMS competition, beat the heavily-favored Porsche factory effort to take the GT2 Team championship as well as the IMSA Cup for privately entered cars. All told, Bergmeister, one of the most successful GT/GT2 drivers in ALMS history with 14 class victories, won five ALMS events last year in the No. 31. The Petersen/ White Lightning car started from the class pole one year ago on Sebring's 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit.
Tim Bergmeister will be making his ALMS debut at the Series' season-opener in central Florida. Despite having never driven an ALMS-ready Porsche, Tim, who is one year older than Jörg, has a great deal of experience racing Porsche's 911. He has competed in the Porsche Supercup the last five years earning third-place finishes in the one-make series' championships the last two seasons. Prior to Supercup, he challenged for one season in Porsche Carrera Cup and the Formula 3 championship including stints with both the Jordan and Benetton F1 Junior Teams. Like Jörg, the older Bergmeister followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather into the sport. He began karting in 1978 at three years old and continued as a factory driver from '87-'90 when he preceded his brother into Formula Koenig with three wins and the championship in his first year racing cars. He would again win the title '92 and also win the H&R Cup. His final season of open wheel competition came in '99 when he made his United States debut in the Barber Dodge Pro Series earning top rookie in four of his five starts.
Nic Jönsson is no stranger to the ALMS or Petersen/ White Lightning. Jönsson, a native of Bankeryd, Sweden, had his first start in a Porsche 911 GT3 with the team in 2003. While it was a one-time start, Petersen and White kept close ties to the former Scandinavian Formula 3 champion as he continued to compete in American sports car racing. Jönsson is well versed in both GT and prototype sports car racing having driven in ALMS GT2, then known as GT, class competition in each season from 2000-2004. He also has spent time behind the wheel of both open-top and closed cockpit prototypes since 2001. He has been racing in the United States since 1999. Like his co-drivers, Jönsson is also following a family tradition. His father was a mechanic for Sweden's most famous race driver, Ronnie Petersen, while his brother is currently the chief mechanic in Penske Racing's IndyCar program.
Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing will be debuting a new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at Sebring. The full-season driver pairings as well as other additional major announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
Mike Petersen, owner: "2006 is about ready to start and we have what I feel to be a very competitive driver lineup. We have Jörg and Nic who have both been with us before and Jörg's brother, Tim, who has pretty much been around for the better part of last year. The team is very excited to get the brand new car out and see what happens at the 12 Hour. We are looking forward to defending our title. This year is going to be very competitive with all the new and returning teams. Hopefully we can start it out strong with a good finish. It has been a short off-season and soon we will have some more exciting news in regards to the rest of the 2006 season and beyond for the future!
Dale White, team manager: "We're obviously very excited to be back at Sebring to defend the 12 Hour win. We got our championship-winning season off to a great start here last year but that is last year. Now we have to do it all over again. With this strong driver lineup I am very excited about where we are."
Jörg Bergmeister, driver: ""I'm really excited to have Tim in the car because I know he is quick. I think it is a great opportunity for my brother to drive with Petersen/ White Lightning. Most important, he knows that if he hurts the car he has to deal with me. Having Nic in the car is also really great because I know him as a teammate in another series. I think it is a really good line-up. It's nice to have the title at the beginning of the season but it is a long way to get to the championship again. The competition at Sebring seems to be even stronger than last year. Hopefully we'll be in good shape with the new car."
Tim Bergmeister, driver: "I am really happy to race for Petersen/ White Lightning in the 12 Hours of Sebring. I think it is going to be a very good chance for me to prove my speed and my technical understanding working with the team. Racing in the ALMS will be very exciting for me because it is a high professional series. The biggest challenge will be to handle the traffic without losing too much time and jumping from bump to bump with the car."
Nic Jönsson, driver: "I am very excited to be back with Petersen Motorsports and racing with the defending ALMS champions at Sebring. I am looking forward to a good race with Jörg and his brother, Tim. This is a great opportunity for me to finally win after two second-place finishes in the past at Sebring 12 Hour."