Le Mans Champions Announce Final Driver Lineup for GT2 Title Defense LAS VEGAS, Nev., May 10, 2005 -- Defending 24 Heures du Mans LM GT2 class (formerly LM GT) champions Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing have finalized the drivers...
Le Mans Champions Announce Final Driver Lineup for GT2 Title Defense
LAS VEGAS, Nev., May 10, 2005 -- Defending 24 Heures du Mans LM GT2 class (formerly LM GT) champions Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing have finalized the drivers that it will use to challenge for a third-straight victory in the classic event. 2004 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 champion Timo Bernhard (Miesau, Germany) will complete the stellar lineup of drivers by joining Petersen/ White Lightning regulars Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.). The addition of Bernhard, 24, gives the No. 90 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR a trio of 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning drivers. In fact, every member of the Michael Petersen-owned team, except for two who have joined the Las Vegas-based operation since Le Mans last year, have been part of winning efforts at the Circuit Des 24 Heures. Bernhard won the Le Mans GT title in 2002 driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Bergmeister and Long were a part of the 2004 Petersen/ White Lightning program that won the pole position and the race in LM GT2.
Bernhard, who regularly competes against the Petersen/ White Lightning Porsche in the ALMS, found his early success in North American racing with the team in 2001. While the combination did not score a victory together, Bernhard did earn a top-five and three other top-ten finishes in four starts with the organization. With the knowledge initially learned under the guidance of Petersen and team manager Dale White (Las Vegas, Nev.), Bernhard has gone on to score nine ALMS victories, 19 podiums, 22 top-fives and 32 top-tens in 35 ALMS starts. Added to that tally is the ALMS title, the Le Mans victory and two 24 Hours At Daytona victories ('02, '03).
The return of Bernhard to the 2005 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winning team is not the only reunion that La Sarthe will bring. Bernhard and Bergmeister were longstanding teammates in the GT2 class going back to Bernhard's first full season of ALMS competition in 2002. The two remained as one of the strongest driver pairings in motorsports winning nine events together between 2002 and 2004.
The Automobile Club De L'Ouest-sanctioned 24 Heures du Mans test day is scheduled for June 5th with the race on June 18-19th. Bernhard will not participate in the test day at Le Mans in the No. 90 Porsche. Michael Petersen, who often steps in to assist the team in testing, will sub for the German. Bergmeister and Long will take part on test day and will do the bulk of the setup work for the return to Le Mans for practice and qualifying on June 15th.
More on Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing can be found at www.petersenmotorsports.com. Learn more about Porsche at www.Porsche.com.
Michael Petersen, team owner: "The addition of Timo to our lineup for the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans is very exciting. Timo actually started in the U.S. with Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing and we are very happy to have him back for Le Mans. I know that Jorg and Patrick are just as fired-up as the rest of us are with the addition. The competition should be just fantastic for the fans as there are many capable teams that can bring it home. With the combination of our drivers, and with a lot of luck and hard work, we hope to do the best that we can. We'll roll the dice and see what happens at the end of this awesome event. I can hardly wait for the pre-test to get the Le Mans event kicked off as this is my favorite race in the world!"
Dale White, team manager: "We're very pleased to have Timo back with the team. We've had a lot of success at Le Mans the last two years and when Mike and I were discussing drivers that we felt could help continue that, Timo was at the top of the list. He is the perfect compliment to Jorg and Patrick I think. They have all raced together and Jorg and Timo raced and won together for years. We won't have to worry about chemistry with the drivers or the team. Everyone knows everyone pretty well. This was the last piece of the puzzle we needed to put into place and I couldn't be happier with the fit."
Timo Bernhard, driver: "I'm glad to be working with Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning. They are the winners of the last two 24 Hour Races at Le Mans in the GT2 class! I'm really looking forward to this. My first race for Petersen Motorsports was in 2001 at Sears Point. I did several races in the ALMS for them and we had some success. Both the team and me have improved in these years up to now. In the past years, Dale and Mike have built a great team around chief engineer Stefan Pfeiffer. And also the driver lineup is great. I know Jorg because he was my teammate the last three years and Patrick was also a Porsche Junior driver, like me. Now we have to put everything together! I won Le Mans in 2002 and I definitely want to win again!"
Patrick Long, driver: "I'm looking forward to going back to Le Mans. It will be my second 24 hour race with Timo and Jorg together; the first was the 24 Hours of Daytona, 2003. Those two are the dynamic duo. They work so well together, it will be a great opportunity to be a part of that. Timo brings a great deal of experience and results to the program."