PATRICK LONG/JORG BERGMEISTER SOLIDFY CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION WITH CONVINCING PETIT LE MANS GT2 VICTORY; BERNHARD/DUMAS FOURTH AFTER ON-TRACK INCIDENTS BRASELTON, Georgia - October 1 - Patrick Long, from Las Vegas, Nevada, and Jorg Bergmeister,...
PATRICK LONG/JORG BERGMEISTER SOLIDFY CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION WITH CONVINCING PETIT LE MANS GT2 VICTORY; BERNHARD/DUMAS FOURTH AFTER ON-TRACK INCIDENTS
BRASELTON, Georgia - October 1 - Patrick Long, from Las Vegas, Nevada, and Jorg Bergmeister, from Langenfeld, Germany, have scored their biggest American Le Mans Series GT2 class win ever by scoring a two-lap win with their Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
By grabbing the 26 first-place points for this endurance classic, the Las Vegas-based team has a comfortable championship lead with only one event remaining. With the last event at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey yielding 24 points for first place, Long/Bergmeister now have a 22-point lead over the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.
Dale White, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing team manager, will not celebrate until they can clinch the title outright, but he couldn't be more pleased with the team's performance nine hour, 18-minute event.
"We had a good race plan, and we were able to follow it to perfection," said White, whose team had only won a single ALMS event before this year, but now has four wins just this year.
"Patrick and Jorg were flawless, and we were in position to move ahead when our rivals had problems. The Porsche didn't miss a beat during the whole event, and we put ourselves to win it all at Laguna."
The reason the Petersen drivers are so close to the title is that the Alex Job Racing Porsche team of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, which started the race on the pole, ran into several problems which pushed them down in the standings. The first one came only 13 minutes into the race when Bernhard/Dumas can into the pits to top off the fuel during an early yellow flag, and Long/Bergmeister moved into first place by staying out on the track. Then, about 30 minutes later, Bernhard was clipped by a passing P2 car, damaging the right front fender, and loosening the upright, which eventually caused the lower control arm to break in the fourth hour. It was this 25-minute pit stop to replace the right suspension that cost the team 16 laps and a shot at the podium.
All was no lost for the Alex Job Racing team, ALMS' GT2 three-time champions (2002 - 2004), as the other team car, the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Ian Baas, Emmanual Collard, and Marcel Tiemann, finished second at the event, only one lap behind the winners. This kept the team championship points close, as Petersen/White Lightning has 156 points, and Alex Job Racing has 150 points.
Third in the GT2 class at Petit Le Mans was the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Johannes van Overbeek, Darren Law and Jon Fogarty. By virtue of their third place finish, van Overbeek and Fogarty have clinched third place in the final point standings for the season - a season which brought five podium finish and a third place for the team (Lonnie Pechnik, van Overbeek and Seth Neiman) at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Neiman/Pechnik/Murry team Porsche did not finish after Neiman had a crash on the front straight in the third hour.
The Mike Rockenfeller/Wolf Henzler/Martin Jensen BAM! Porsche was fifth, hampered by lost laps due to pace car placement/yellow flags and an accident at the four hour mark when Jensen was forced off the road by the Saleen. The last point-scoring position in the class - sixth place - went to the J3 Racing Porsche of Justin Jackson/Tim Sugden/Nic Jonsson, whose nagging suspension problems and flat tires plagued their efforts.
The last race of the season will take place at Mazda Laguna Seca Racway in two weeks - Saturday, October 15, at 7:00 PM EDT.