Road Atlanta II: Petersen/White Lightning race report

Petersen/ White Lightning Wins Petit Le Mans, Makes it Three-Straight in ALMS BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 1, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing won the final major international endurance sports car event missing from their resume...

Petersen/ White Lightning Wins Petit Le Mans, Makes it Three-Straight in ALMS

BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 1, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing won the final major international endurance sports car event missing from their resume with today's stirring GT2 class victory in the eighth annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The 1,000 mile American Le Mans Series (ALMS) event joined victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2003, 2004), the 12 Hours of Sebring (2005) and the 24 At Daytona in which the Michael Petersen-owned team has won the Grand Touring (GT) class. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas) traded off driving duties throughout the over nine hour event with Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.) playing the role as backup in case the team's two regular drivers needed relief in the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The win, by one lap over second place, was the team's third ALMS victory in a row (Road America, Mosport, Petit Le Mans) and its fourth of the season including the season opening endurance classic, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Despite starting third, the lowest grid position of the year for the team, quick laps by the drivers and eight blazingly fast pit stops by the team brought the Las Vegas operation from a one-lap deficit early in the going to the top spot for most of the remainder of the event. The win was the first Petit Le Mans title for the team and drivers Long and Stanton but the third-straight win for Bergmeister at the one of the ALMS's signature events.

Today's victory also moved Bergmeister and Long into a strong position in the ALMS GT2 driver championship with only one race remaining. Petit Le Mans provided 26 points, six additional markers over the standard "sprint" race, to give the driving duo a 22 point lead in the standings. With 23 points available at the season finale in two weeks at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the No. 31 Porsche needs to finish 70% of the laps and tenth or above in the final standings to clinch the first ALMS championship for each. The team standings is more wide-open although the Dale White-managed squad enters the final race in the lead there as well having padded their lead by four additional markers today. The one car team holds a six point lead (156 to 150) over rival Alex Job Racing who can gain points from one of its two cars. However, the team did clinch the IMSA Cup with today's fifth career ALMS GT2 win. The IMSA Cup goes to the highest finishing privateer entrant at each event with a season-long Cup awarded as well. With their eighth IMSA Cup of the season in nine races, the team locked-up what was the original, pre-season goal of Petersen and White.

The final event of the season will be held on October 15th at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with live coverage on SPEED.


Mike Petersen, owner: "For me, this race is about redemptions. We had some really unfortunate luck at Le Mans this year and to win this race is a dream come true of mine. We've won pretty much every major endurance sporting event we want to with the exception of Dakar. What an achievement for this team! Dale and I have been together for a long time and to win this together with all the guys is just a fantastic thing. This season has been pretty amazing with how things have gone for the team. We've had some good luck and some bad luck and we've really pulled together as a unit. I can't be any prouder of the guys and the job they did. I'm looking forward to the last race of the year."

Dale White, team manager: "That was awesome. This was a team effort from the start of the weekend. Every guy here stayed focused and made this victory happen. It took the drivers, the crew, everybody to make this happen. That makes this one really sweet! I wanted to win this race bad. And we did. I am just incredibly proud of this whole team!"

Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "I think the team did a fantastic job. The pit stops were unbelievable with how quickly they changed tires. I think, without the stops, we couldn't have won today. That made the difference. It is nice to win both the big races, Sebring and Petit. It is three in a row here at Petit now for me and it is good to do that with Petersen/ White Lightning as well. The championship is still open but it looks really good now for us. The goal for Laguna will be to win the driver and the team championship. But, therefore, we will have to keep doing what we have done the last three races."

Patrick Long, driver: "I can think of only one race since I began with the team last year where we haven't finished on the podium [Portland, 2005]. Together we have won the 'big three'; Petit, Sebring and Le Mans. It feels great! I was definitely relieved to see that checkered flag at the end. The frequency that Jorg and I were out of the car and the humidity made it a very long day. Unbelievably, the 23 car had problems and that puts us in the catbird seat at the moment. This one, like the rest of them, comes down to a team effort. One thing I can't stop talking about is how well this team gels. It has taught me a lot about how a team can be run. Congratulations to Mike, Dale and Stefan for building an awesome, awesome team. It is great to work with them."

Craig Stanton, driver: "I just want to congratulate all the team. They have done a fabulous job here. Words can't even describe how spot-on they were here today. The Petersen/ White Lightning guys had some outstanding pit stops. I have never seen anyone so focused as a collective group in my life. I am really proud to be involved with this team the last three years and I'll never forget this experience."

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Craig Stanton , Michael Petersen , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing