Petersen/ White Lightning Has Tough Afternoon in Portland PORTLAND, Ore., July 30, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing started second in today's Grand Prix of Portland (Ore.) American Le Mans Series (ALMS) event here at Portland...
Petersen/ White Lightning Has Tough Afternoon in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore., July 30, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing started second in today's Grand Prix of Portland (Ore.) American Le Mans Series (ALMS) event here at Portland International Raceway. However, the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR would end the day eighth in class, 19th overall, 11 laps down to the GT2 class winner. Despite a valiant effort which saw Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) turn laps significantly quicker than the leaders, the team suffered multiple disappointments to finish off the GT2 podium for the first time this season.
Long started second, the team's sixth-straight GT2 class front row of the season, but by lap four he had to pit to tighten a left rear wheel which had worked itself loose in the opening laps of the event. The young, Porsche "works" driver returned to the track in ninth-place. He would hand over the wheel of the Porsche to teammate Bergmeister on lap 48. The left rear again played a role in harming the team's chances when it took an extended period of time to remove it. Bergmeister continued the team's fight but made contact with a competitor damaging the nose of the No. 31. The contact was severe enough to put a hole in the middle of three radiators that the 911 utilize to cool the six-cylinder engine. The Michael Petersen-owned team performed a stellar job and returned Bergmeister to the track within 14 minutes of his entering the pits. However, now 11 laps down to the eventual winner, the team was never able to regain the lost ground. It marked the first time this season that the Las Vegas-based operation has finished outside of the top-three in class. It also marked the first time since winning the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring that the drivers and team fell from the top-spot in the championship chase. Petersen/ White Lightning now sits six points behind the lead in both the team and driver points battle with 90 markers and four races remaining in the season.
After a string of six events in 11 weeks, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and its Test Day, the Petersen/ White Lightning team will now have a three week break to ready for the Road America 500 on August 21st. That race, which has its first day on track on Friday, August 19th, will be broadcast live on SPEED.
Dale White, team manager: "When it rains it pours. It was a very tough day but we will gather everything up and be ready to go on the offensive at Road America. That is a great track for us. The drivers love it, the team loves it. Now we are the hunter instead of the hunted. We're comfortable with either role but this gives us the advantage in many ways I think."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "Again we had an awesome racecar. I think we did the fastest race lap by far. We had bad luck at the beginning with a problem with the left rear. And then, I don't know what the 45 car did but he slowed down so baldy I didn't have anywhere to go. So I hit him. Unfortunately, it was in the worst spot and it broke the radiator. It wasn't a hard hit but hard to enough to break the radiator. But the race was already over before that, unfortunately. My favorite tracks are coming up so I am excited about that. First Road America and then Mosport. Those are the highlights for me for the season. I am excited about that and I think we should have a good car there as well."
Patrick Long, driver: "I knew the left rear was wrong almost instantly. The car was just coming alive and I had a sudden feeling on the back straightaway and dropped into the pits. I can't say I believe in luck anymore. These are demons. Since Le Mans it has just been a never-ending fight but the good thing about this team is we stay together. We win together and we lose together. We'll pull through this time. The championship is far from over and I think everyone in the paddock knows who is setting the pace in the ALMS GT2 class right now. Thanks to all of our friends and supporters for sticking with us through these tough times but the cream will rise to the top eventually."