First Step Done For Petersen/ White Lightning In Pursuit of Third Le Mans GT2 Title LE MANS, France, June 5, 2005 -- The first of three distinct steps to becoming the first American, privateer team to win three consecutive 24 Heures Du Mans...
First Step Done For Petersen/ White Lightning In Pursuit of Third Le Mans GT2 Title
LE MANS, France, June 5, 2005 -- The first of three distinct steps to becoming the first American, privateer team to win three consecutive 24 Heures Du Mans in GT2 class is now complete. With the checkered flag waving over the Automobile Club De L'Ouest-sanctioned 24 Heures Du Mans Test Day, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing now looks forward to the two remaining, more challenging tasks; qualifications and the race. Step-one was checked-off as a success as the No. 90 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR set the fastest time of the day for the class. The quick time set in the morning session by Timo Bernhard (Dittweiler, Germany) at four minutes 4.915 seconds, set the unofficial track record for GT2 (formerly GT) class. The previous best of 4:05.975 was set at the 2004 Test Day by Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) in this same Michael Petersen-owned Porsche 911 riding on Michelin tires. Bernhard's lap bettered the official pole speed (set in 2003 in the Petersen/ White Lightning Porsche that combined the team with Alex Job Racing) of 4:06.984. Patrick Long (Las Vegas) did the bulk of the testing today putting in a full race stint while Michael Petersen ran twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to assist. Bernhard drove only in the first session. The quickest time set by the No. 90 in the afternoon session was set by Long at 4:06.6.
The five hour afternoon/ evening schedule was used primarily as a race test by the team. Team manager Dale White (Las Vegas) and crew chief Stefan Pfeiffer (Croatia) called for extended, race simulating stints for the drivers. Long began the session and was immediately up to speed running laps in the four minute, six second range. The 23 year-old American ran consistently in that range throughout his stint. White called an end to the day after 64 total laps with approximately an hour and a half remaining available for testing as rain began to fall on the track in the southwest of France. Several other cars continued to run and, as the track began to dry several neared the time set by the Las Vegas-based team. However, none was able to eclipse it.
The team will now return to the 8.6-mile, 11-turn Circuit Des 24 Heures on June 15th to prepare for their third race at the track. Joining the team will be Bergmeister, a regular, like Long, at Petersen/ White Lightning in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Bergmeister, Bernhard and Long will then challenge for the GT2 class honors at the world's greatest sports car race on June 18-19th.
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/ driver: "I think the whole team would agree that we have a fairly decent car leading up to the race. The weather was nice and cool, partly cloudy at the beginning and then the clouds came over and a little bit of drizzle fell on the track. That probably kept some of the other teams from showing all of their hand but Timo's fantastic time from this morning held-up all day. It's nice to have the fastest time but we all know it really means very little in the overall schedule of things in a 24 hour race. So now the crew can begin to diligently prep and prepare the number 90 entry for the 24 Hours. The guys did a fantastic job driving and the crew guys did in the pits. Dale called a great strategy for day and everything is going to plan to this point."
Dale White, team manager: "We accomplished everything that we wanted to today. We set the quick time in the morning a little earlier than we thought we would and that actually put us ahead on our strategy. When the rain came with about an hour and a half to go we were just about to call Mike in anyway so the rain didn't hurt us at all. We accomplished what we planned and a little more. The day went very well and it is always great to be at the top of the time charts. However, even more importantly, we have a good feel for where we are at with the race car for the 24 Hour. Being fast is nice but in an endurance race like Le Mans, it doesn't mean very much. Where we are at 4 pm on June 19th is what counts to us."
Timo Bernhard, driver: "It was a very good lap and I was happy with the time. We have a very good car for the race, I think. We accomplished all that we wanted to today and that gives us a very good feeling going into the race."
Patrick Long, driver: "It was great to be back. The second lap of the day felt like where I left off last year. So I was really able to improve my consistency. Our speed is there but the consistency was the really encouraging thing today. We did what we planned which was to stay relaxed and just get our work done. We didn't have to spend all of our time on the track and that is really encouraging. They have repaved the circuit so the back half of the track is really grippy. I think there might have been even more speed in the car but today was about the race setup. There could be some even faster laps laid down in qualifying for the race."