Petersen/ White Lightning Overcomes Early Setback to Take Fifth ALMS Podium of 2005 SONOMA, Calif., July 17,2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing again demonstrated why they are the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class points...
Petersen/ White Lightning Overcomes Early Setback to Take Fifth ALMS Podium of 2005
SONOMA, Calif., July 17,2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing again demonstrated why they are the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class points leaders here at Infineon Raceway today. The No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR made a dramatic charge from the back of the field to capture second place in GT2 class at the Grand Prix of Sonoma after a punctured tire forced an early race pit stop. Though being a lap down in ninth-place at the low-point, Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) each added to the team's amazing, "never-give-up" drive back to the front of the running order to take their fifth-straight ALMS podium finish of the season. The finish also continued the team's lock on the IMSA Cup for the class awarded to the highest finishing privateer entrant.
Bergmeister started second in the two hour and 45-minute race around the 2.53-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway. On the third lap he felt an odd sensation at the left rear of the car. Fearing a puncture, Bergmeister called in that he would pit on the following lap. At that same moment, the caution flag flew allowing the team to pit under yellow. Fortunately, no suspension or bodywork damage resulted in the drive back to pit lane. The Michael Petersen-owned team re-entered the event ninth in class. Bergmeister began to turn laps faster than the leaders showing the sports car world that the team may be down but was not out. By lap 35, the German was back running in the top-five with a dramatic pass entering Infineon's famous hairpin final turn sneaking by positions six and five. They moved up to third as pit stops began to shuffle the order. On lap 54, one hour and 30-minutes into the event, the Petersen/ White Lightning crew went to work on their second stop of the day and Long took over driving duties.
Long put on a stunning performance like Bergmeister before him. He would move up to third and then second on track with a succession of impressive passes with roughly 20 minutes remaining. He would hold off the leader, the No. 23 Porsche, as it hounded him until the end to remain on the lead lap. Long would cross under the checkered flag second in class- the team's fourth consecutive second-place in the last four races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Petersen/ White Lightning crew will head to the Northwest for the next round on the ALMS schedule. The Portland Grand Prix, held on Saturday night, will be held at Portland International Raceway on Saturday July 30th. The No. 31 raced to third in 2004 at the Oregon track.
Mike Petersen, owner/ driver: "What a roller coaster of a day. We had a race car that more than likely would have won this race but an unfortunate issue cost us this victory. The crew did an awesome job of getting Jorg back on the track and put his head down and brought us back into contention. We worked our way up to second-place which was a fantastic job by the drivers. My hat's off to the entire team for never giving up."
Dale White, team manager: "These guys never give up! It was awesome. No one doubted that we would be on the podium at the end of the day even after we had the puncture. I am so proud of these guys. Every time something gets thrown at them, they just turn it around and make it work. Even as other teams are having squabbles over the little stuff, this team takes all the challenges and keeps rising to the occasion as a team; as one unit. You couldn't ask for more."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "In the back section of the track I realized that there was a problem. It felt like a flat tire and then the safety car came out which was pretty good for us. We had to stay out one more lap and I tried to bring the car back as fast as I could. Unfortunately, we lost quite some time in the pits and fell back to last. From that point on I pushed really hard to bring the car back to the front. The car was running really, really good. It was just tough luck."
Patrick Long, driver: "Our progression continues. I think we stepped it up another notch and we're really biting at their heels. This is what we need to do; consistent finishes pushing Alex Job. Unfortunately, we had a bad break early in the first stint but this team never gives up. Everyone joined forces and put their heads down and we were able to come all the way back through the field. It's great to stick to the plan with a few curve balls thrown at us. I think our consistency is showing that we are going to be the team to beat come final points tally."