Deja Vu All Over Again for Petersen/White Lightning? 2005 GT2 Champions Hope to Use Road America to Again Spur Title Run ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 11, 2006 -- In what many consider one of the best GT2 class battles in American Le Mans Series...
Deja Vu All Over Again for Petersen/White Lightning?
2005 GT2 Champions Hope to Use Road America to Again Spur Title Run
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 11, 2006 -- In what many consider one of the best GT2 class battles in American Le Mans Series history, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing walked away from the spectacular, tree-lined Road America facility with a dramatic victory in 2005. As if a harbinger of things to come in the overall championship battle, team strategy, quick pit stops and brilliant driving allowed Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) to chase-down and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) to hold-off the competition in a nose-to-tail fight through traffic to capture the win for the privateer team. Now, just as then, the Michael Petersen-owned effort finds itself in the role of hunter as it enters the final four races of the 2006 season. The team is working hard to ensure that it is, as Yogi Berra once said, "deja vu all over again" for the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at the August 20 Generac 500 at Road America. The two-time class winners here hope to use the track once again to spur a title run to close the season.
The Dale White-managed team must make-up a 21 point deficit to defend their 2005 Team, Driver and IMSA Cup Championships. This time last year, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class champions came to Elkhart Lake, Wisc. trailing the points leader by six. The '05 Road America victory closed the gap to two points. They would go on to win their first sports car racing team championship by 18 points while the drivers cleared second-place by 34. 20 points are available for a victory at Road America while 89 markers are still on the table for all the remaining races in 2006. They swept the closing four races in 2005 taking all 89. A similar feat may be required this year as they fight four other teams, all of which have also tasted victory in 2006. Petersen/White Lightning's lone '06 victory came at Lime Rock Park in July but the team has taken second-place in the two races since the win.
The 4.048 mile, 12-turn Road America circuit has always been a favorite for the Petersen/White Lightning combination. Their first race at the classic, American road course came in 2002 and they would take their first American Le Mans Series class win (then known as GT class) at Road America in 2003. A second place would follow in 2004 and the stirring victory in '05 would continue the streak of podium finishes.
Dale White, Team Manager: "Road America has always been one of our better tracks as a team. We've always performed pretty well there. The drivers like the track and we are on a good roll with podium finishes. I can't say the championship isn't on our minds. Once you taste it you want it again. But, at the same time, what everyone else does is out of our hands. All we can do is put the fastest, best car on the track possible, get our pit stops right, play the race strategy the best we know how and try and win every race. That's our job; to win. It doesn't get much simpler than that. The real pressure is on the teams in front of us in the points. We're really pumped-up and ready to race."
Jorg Bergmeister, Driver: "This is my favorite track. I always look forward to coming to Road America. I am really excited. I just hope we have a chance to beat the Ferrari again. We are going to just try our best and get out of there with a win. Last year was pretty good. We were focused on the race and had a really good car. I was in the car for two hours at the beginning. It was really exciting at the end with Patrick in the car fighting for the win. It was a really close victory. I have really good memories of Road America."
Patrick Long, Driver: "Road America is a place of excitement and good memories from last year. I think it can be the continuation of our podium-streak and our chase for the championship. We are as hungry as ever. The plan remains the same; to go out and strive for victories. The Road America track is complementary to the Porsche so hopefully we will have a chance to run with the Ferrari. Jorg and I both enjoy and have had success at the track and the crowd is great there. We want to capitalize on our success of the last few races. We are closing in on the championship and there is no reason to think we can't win the title for the team and the driver title for Jorg."