Petersen/White Lightning Grabs Third in Salt Lake City GT2 Qualifications Las Vegas-Based Team Ready for ALMS Miller Motorsports Park Debut TOOELE, Utah, July 14, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing continued to run towards the...
Petersen/White Lightning Grabs Third in Salt Lake City GT2 Qualifications
Las Vegas-Based Team Ready for ALMS Miller Motorsports Park Debut
TOOELE, Utah, July 14, 2006 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing continued to run towards the front of the American Le Mans Series GT2 class grid here at Miller Motorsports Park today. However, the 2005 American Le Mans Series Champions were not able to capture their second class pole position of the season. Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) qualified the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Market Scan/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR third after turning the second-quickest laps in both the official, one hour practice sessions that proceeded today's 20-minute qualifying session. Long's lap of two minutes, 45.161 seconds, the team's fastest of the weekend, fell two spots back from the 2:44.024 of the pole position-winning Ferrari 430 GT. The Michael Petersen-owned team will help the American Le Mans Series debut the new Salt Lake City-area facility from 16th overall in tomorrow's Larry H. Miller Utah Grand Prix
Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) will join Long behind the wheel of the 2005 GT2 class championship winning car for Saturday's two hour and 45-minute race. The fourth-round of the American Le Mans Series season will be punctuated by oppressive heat for the two championship drivers. Today, temperatures bettered the previous days' highs and are expected to soar higher tomorrow. Ambient temperature during qualifications was 106 degrees (Fahrenheit) while the track surface surpassed 130 degrees. With cockpit temperatures nearly 30 degrees higher than the air temperature, roughly 136 degrees, Bergmeister and Long will be pressed to maintain concentration on the 4.5-mile, 24-turn facility over the length of their stints. Under normal conditions, the heat would drain the drivers. However, unlike most of the tracks on the ten-race schedule, the drivers are still learning the new Salt Lake City-area track and none has ever raced on it to know what conditions will be like in the last hour. The unknowns and the exhaustion will impact critical decision-making, similar to the closing hours of the 12 and 24 hour endurance races the Petersen/White Lightning team also competes in. Physical conditioning and proper hydration will help both drivers, and the Dale White-managed crew, stay mentally sharp.
The Utah Grand Prix will start at 6 PM (MT) on July 15. A tape delayed broadcast of the American Le Mans Series debut-event at Miller Motorsports Park can be seen on CBS at 2 PM (ET) on July 16. Live timing and scoring can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Dale White, Team Manager:
"The team did a great job. We didn't leave anything on the table. We just don't quite have the speed that the Ferrari showed today. We feel that we have a good car for the race. It's going to be hot and all the drivers and teams are going to have to concentrate in order to stay at peak performance tomorrow. Like every race, I think this one will come down as much to advance preparation and the ability to make the right decision when you are hot and tired as speed. With the heat and a new track which is long with a lot of turns, concentration for everyone is going to be key."
Jorg Bergmeister, Driver:
"I hope the cool suit works. Other than that I think we should have a good race car. We worked a lot on the setup. I think we turned very good lap times on very old tires. Qualifying was also really good. Patrick did a very good job. He only did two flying laps so we should have really good tires for the race. We'll see where we end up."
Patrick Long, Driver:
"We think the car is as good as it has been all weekend and that was as good a lap as I've had all weekend. We're pretty happy with getting the most out of both me and the car. I think we did the smart thing by only doing two flying laps and saving the tires for the race. It's going to be a hot, long stint with, probably, very few yellows. I think the other cars staying out and going after the pole might play into our favor."