Petersen/White Lightning six hour report

Petersen/ White Lightning -- Le Mans Six Hour Report -- LM GT2 Class Leader LE MANS, France, Saturday, June 18, 2005 -- With the 24 Hours of Le Mans now one-quarter done, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing's effort to become the...

Petersen/ White Lightning -- Le Mans Six Hour Report -- LM GT2 Class Leader

LE MANS, France, Saturday, June 18, 2005 -- With the 24 Hours of Le Mans now one-quarter done, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing's effort to become the first privately-owned, American team in Le Mans history to win three-straight GT2 titles, is on the right track. Despite early struggles through inclement weather in Wednesday's two, two hour practice/ qualifying sessions and an accident early in the Thursday's second session that forced the team to two late nights of repairs, the team has rallied to take the race's early lead. It appeared that the day would be very short as a broken radiator pipe caused the team to miss the final ten minutes of the morning warm-up and high water and oil temperatures in the race's opening hour hampered movement to the front. However, the 2005 12 Hours of Sebring-winning entry- which currently leads the GT2 championship chase in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS)- never gave-up, focused on the task and now leads it's class at the world's most famous sports car race.

The No. 90 Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR took the French Tri-Color flag at 4 pm this afternoon signaling the start of the 73rd Annual 24 Heures Du Mans. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) was lead-off driver for first hour of competition fighting an overheating race car. Despite temperatures rising inside the Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche and in its flat-six boxer engine, Bergmeister brought the car as high as fourth in the GT2 class from its grid position of sixth. Bergmeister handed the car over to teammate Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev.) in the fifth position.

With corrections made during the pit stop, Long, who, like Bergmeister drove this entry to victory last season, moved into the lead in hour-two further dropping lap times turning a time of four minutes, 10.639 seconds. A second pit stop cost the young American Porsche factory driver time after he thought he had punctured a tire. However, the problem was actually a loose, left rear window. Long would give driving duties over to Timo Bernhard (Dittweiler, Germany) at 6:35 PM.

Bernhard's stint had the only full course caution of the race to this point. The yellow flag lasted roughly 30 minutes before which Bernhard set the team's fastest lap of 4:09.569- that also marked the fastest lap the team has turned since official practice began on Wednesday. Bernhard would then return the wheel to longtime teammate Bergmeister at 8 PM. Bergmeister kept the Michael Petersen-owned team in the top position of the class despite being closely tailed by the No. 71 AJR entry. The No. 90 has maintained the lead for most of the four hours since taking over the top spot losing it only during pit stops. Bergmeister would yield to Long at 9 PM for the American's second stint as the sun, and hot, 90 degree (Fahrenheit) conditions, start to fade into the French night.

vital signs
position: started- 6th in GT2 class
class- 1st (+8 seconds at 9 pm)
overall: 21st

stops to this point: 5
stop 1- 5:03 PM - fuel, tires, Long In, Bergmeister Out -- check and add oil, check water

stop 2- 5:31 PM - fuel, tires, Long stays in car -- concerned about puncture but there was no puncture.

stop 3- 6:35 PM -- fuel, tires, Bernhard In, Long Out

stop 4- 8:00 PM -- fuel, tires, Bergmeister In, Bernhard Out

stop 5- 9:00 PM -- fuel, tires, check oil, pull tear-off of windshield, Long In, Bergmeister Out

Bergmeister -- 2
Bernhard -- 1
Long -- 2


Dale White, team manager: "We got a scare at the start with the engine temps running so high so quickly. However, on the first stop we made some changes and we're not that worried about that now. Right now we're exactly where we want to be and I know, after the week we've had, exactly where a lot of people didn't think we would be. The team has been amazing. Unbelievable! These guys were here until 1:30 AM on Thursday night, 2:30 last night and were in here at 7 AM this morning. Nothing has rattled them and we're doing the best stops we've done all season. The drivers are doing a great job under some tough conditions with the heat and the oil down on the track. I'm pretty pleased with the first part of the race. Still a long, long way to go though."

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Michael Petersen