Petersen/White Lightning Test Day preview

Petersen/ White Lightning to Begin Le Mans Title Defense with Sunday Drive LE MANS, France, June 4, 2005 -- On Sunday Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing will begin its quest to become the first American, privateer race team to win...

Petersen/ White Lightning to Begin Le Mans Title Defense with Sunday Drive

LE MANS, France, June 4, 2005 -- On Sunday Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing will begin its quest to become the first American, privateer race team to win three consecutive GT2 (formerly GT) class titles at the 24 Heures Du Mans. The two session, nine-hour test day will give Petersen/ White Lightning regular driver Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev, USA) his first laps at the Circuit Des 24 Heures since stepping onto the race's victory podium with the team last June. Long will be joined in the No. 90 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR by 2004 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 champion Timo Bernhard (Dittweiler, Germany). Bernhard, the 2002 GT2 class winner here at Le Mans, will be making his fourth appearance in the race. Team owner Michael Petersen (Las Vegas) will return to his role as test driver at the session as well. It will be the third time that the team has leaned on the owner/ driver for his testing skills at Le Mans. For the June 18-19th race, Petersen will step-aside to allow the team's ALMS regular Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) to compete in his fourth race at La Sarthe. Bergmeister had prior commitments in North America and will not able to attend the Le Mans Test Day.

The test day will give the team its only opportunity prior to official practice to run the car on the famous track that is made up of a dedicated racing circuit and public streets. Traditionally the fastest times on the 8.6-mile track are set in the closing hours of the test day. Cooler temperatures, more race tire rubber and a cleaner track on the racing groove as well as increased comfort on the 11-turn track are all elements to the fast times being set in the final hours of the test.

The Las Vegas-based team won its first GT2 title in 2003 in a joint effort with ALMS competitor Alex Job Racing (AJR). They followed that performance in a Petersen/ White Lightning-only program with a pole position and class victory in 2004 with Bergmeister, Long and Sascha Maassen (Raeren, Belgium).

Thus far in 2005, the Westward Ho Casino Porsche has won the GT2 class pole position and race at the ALMS season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, finished third at the Grand Prix of Atlanta and second in the ALMS at Mid-Ohio. Bergmeister and Long currently lead the ALMS GT2 class driver points while the team controls both the team and the IMSA Cup- for privateer entrants- standings. Following Sunday's Test Day, the next official practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans comes on Wednesday, June 15th with two, two hour practice/ qualifying sessions. The same schedule will be followed on Thursday, June 16th. The race will start at 4 pm, June 18th and run for 24 hours taking the checkered flag at 4 pm on June 19th.

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Michael Petersen, team owner/ driver: "After all the hard work and preparation we're eagerly anticipating the start of the 2005 24 Heures du Mans with the test day on Sunday. It'll be nice for the team to get back in the groove of things. We'll just give it our best shot and see how things end-up. I can hardly wait to get back behind the wheel for a tour around this circuit."

Dale White, team manager: "It's exciting to be back at Le Mans. We have been focusing a lot of our energy into this race and it's great to be back. Le Mans is different than any other race. Almost everything about it is unique. So, the test day will give us all a chance to shake off the cob webs from a year of not being here. The drivers are prepared, the car is looking good and we're ready to go. Tomorrow is a good day to fine-tune the starting point that we got with this car last year. We're not going to be out there pounding away lap-after-lap. Our plan is to find a rhythm early in the test, get in the laps for the drivers, fine-tune our setup and then park it and get ready to race."

Timo Bernhard, driver: "It's a good driver lineup and a good team lineup. Here we have to do the basic setup this weekend. The track might change again before the race. So, we will find the basic setup and see how we get along with this. I think Sunday, the first two hours, the race track won't be that fast. So that time is all about driving and getting track time. If you start making changes the track will get better and better so you my wind up down a one way street. The second part of the day is more important to get the car up to speed. The team has been successful over the last two years so the basics should be there. The team will already have quite a good setup so we will just make an evolution. That is a pretty good feeling."

Patrick Long, driver: "This is a pre-test and some take it as pre-qualifying. We're going to do our best to develop a good race car. We're going to stay calm and methodical and hopefully the rest will come to us. It's always good to be back in Le Mans and it's always easier the second time around; there's time to soak up the fun parts, the atmosphere of Le Mans."


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