Petersen/White Lightning Wednesday qualifying report

Petersen/ White Lightning Takes First-Round LM GT Pole for Le Mans LE MANS, France, June 10, 2004 -- The No. 90 Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing Porsche set the fastest time for LM GT class of the first round of practice and ...

Petersen/ White Lightning Takes First-Round LM GT Pole for Le Mans

LE MANS, France, June 10, 2004 -- The No. 90 Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing Porsche set the fastest time for LM GT class of the first round of practice and qualifying for the 72nd Annual 24 Heures Du Mans tonight. Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfield, Germany) turned a lap of four minutes, 9.679 seconds around the famous Circuit Des 24 Heures Du Mans just seconds before the end of the first of two, two hour practice/ qualifying sessions. Bergmeister's lap in the Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ mail2web.com Porsche was 1.3 seconds faster than his nearest competitor and came as the team worked on basic car set-up. Defending race champion-- a title earned in a Michael Petersen-owned car-- Sascha Maassen (Raeren, Belgium) then stepped behind the wheel of the Michelin Tire-shod car turning a handful of laps assisting in finding the race set-up. Oak Park, California's Patrick Long then took his turn behind the wheel as night fell on the classic sports car track. The laps marked only the second time on the full circuit for the American prodigy and his first at night here on the 8.6-mile facility.

The trio of Porsche Work's drivers competing for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT class team continued to fine-tune the Porsche's set-up for the race and for tomorrow's final round of qualifying. The final 'excitement' of the evening came as Maassen had an 'off' near the Dunlop Bridge ending in a gravel trap. However, he was able to return to the pits with only minor damage to the under tray of the car and returned to the track for the final fifteen-minutes of practice.

As it was tonight, third and fourth rounds of practice for the weekend's twice around the clock event will be held from 7 pm to 9 pm (local Le Mans time) and 10 pm to midnight. The final grid for the event will be based on times set in any of the four sessions.

The Automobile Club De l'Ouest (ACO) will throw the French Tri-Color at 4 pm on June 12th to begin the clock ticking on Michael Petersen and Dale White's effort to return to victory lane at 4 pm, June 13th.

Quotes follow--

Mike Petersen, team owner: "We're encouraged by today's time. We have yet to show our full potential and the competition appears to be keeping it very close. Our goal is to be P1 [fastest] tomorrow evening and, as long as the weather holds out, we'll attempt to accomplish this. It's an exciting feeling being in P1 for our first practice as a team here. Ultimately, there is still four hours left and anything can happen but, right now, it feels really good. I'm happy for the whole team and for all of their hard work and dedication."

Sascha Maassen: (about his incident) "I had a friend down in that turn so I wanted to stop and say 'hello'. No, I had a little too much brake bias and I locked it up and I just ran out of room. We had the fast time so that is good but the track is not quite there. I know that the track will be better tomorrow and there will be faster times."

Jorg Bergmeister: "We were just working on the set-up to get it a good, basic set-up. In the next hour, the next session, we will put on some qualifiers and try to put a good time there and then go back to finding the set-up. The set-up is not as good as in pre-test. We have a little more understeer."

Patrick Long: "My job tonight was to get three laps of qualifying and hand the car back over. This was my first time at night here and the track was very dirty. There were a couple of accidents in front of me and I just wanted to bring it back in one piece. I didn't want to risk anything stupid. It wasn't worth it."

-dhc/tm-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Sascha Maassen , Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Michael Petersen