Petersen/White Lightning Brings Two-Straight Podiums to Portland 2005 GT2 Champions Fighting Their Way back into Title Contention PORTLAND, Ore., July 18, 2006 -- After a string of misfortune beset Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing at...
Petersen/White Lightning Brings Two-Straight Podiums to Portland
2005 GT2 Champions Fighting Their Way back into Title Contention
PORTLAND, Ore., July 18, 2006 -- After a string of misfortune beset Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing at the beginning of the year, the 2005 American Le Mans Series GT2 Class Champions have now earned consecutive top-two finishes. The Michael Petersen-owned team won the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on July 1 and finished second on Saturday, July 15, at the Utah Grand Prix.
Now, the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR comes to the American Le Mans Portland Grand Prix working to stay at the sharp end of the podium. Like the crew, drivers Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) hope to use the momentum obtained from being the highest finishing Porsche at both venues to further close the gap in the GT2 class championship. The 1.944 mile, 12-turn road course just outside the heart of downtown Portland has traditionally been a strong track for the Las Vegas-based team.
The Portland weekend is the second time the American Le Mans Series will race back-to-back events this year; the first being rounds two and three at Houston and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May. While other forms of motorsports tend to do multiple venues on successive weekends, the task is more trying for the American Le Mans Series operations. Petersen/White Lightning, like most of the other teams, only has one Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with which it can compete. Therefore, the car must be rebuilt between events to ensure that it is fully prepared for two hours and 45-minutes of the most intense GT racing in the world.
Due to an accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, the team, led by the 2005 American Le Mans Series Mechanic of the Year Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas), was forced to purchase and totally rebuild a car the week of Lime Rock. Since preparations for the string of events from May through July began on the team's original entry for 2006, the team has faced a nearly non-stop workload to ready the Petersen/White Lightning entry both in the American Le Mans Series and for Le Mans itself.
The recent successes have helped justify the long hours but have not lessened the team's drive to capture a second American Le Mans Series championship. If anything, the taste of victory has focused their attention on the task even more.
While a win at Portland is not required to reach the desired conclusion for the season, another strong run will send further shockwaves through the paddock that the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class victors are in pursuit. Five races remain on the 2006 American Le Mans Series schedule.
The American Le Mans Portland Grand Prix will start at 6 PM (PT) on July 22. A tape delayed broadcast of the two hour and 45 minute event can be seen on CBS at 2 PM (ET) on July 23. Live timing and scoring can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Dale White, Team Manager:
"Running back-to-back weekends has always been an advantage to our team. After the years in off-road racing we learned how to prepare well in advance. Part of preparation is being ready for the unexpected. So, even though we hadn't planned to buy and build a new car following Le Mans, we were prepared enough ahead of time that doing two races in a row won't be any more difficult than if we had a month off. Actually, with the momentum we started to build with the win at Lime Rock, we want all the races we can run right now. We want to keep the edge that the last two races have built. We're looking forward to getting to Portland. The whole team is really focused on winning."
Patrick Long, Driver:
"Our goal now is the same as it has always been; go out and win races. We are in the enviable position as the hunter instead of the hunted. Last year we lost our points lead at Portland after a rare, poor finish. Then we had to go on a four race win-streak to closeout the year to get it back. Now we can keep adding pressure to the teams in front of us. These Petersen/White Lightning boys know how to win and they have shown that the last few weeks. As a team, we have what it takes to keep winning. I personally can't win the championship after not driving with the team at Sebring or Petit, but I am putting everything I have into winning it for Mike, Dale, Jorg and all the guys."