Official Practice Launches Petersen/ White Lightning Le Mans GT2 Title Defense LE MANS, France, June 15, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing had its first official on-track activity today in pursuit of their third-straight ...
Official Practice Launches Petersen/ White Lightning Le Mans GT2 Title Defense
LE MANS, France, June 15, 2005 -- Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing had its first official on-track activity today in pursuit of their third-straight Grand Touring (GT) class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Circuit de la Sarthe's 8.48-mile, 11-turn track played host to the first two, two hour practice/ qualifying session for the No. 90 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR under wet conditions. The team posted the fifth quickest lap in GT2 class (32nd overall) for the two periods combined with a time of four minutes, 33.107 seconds. Due to the wet conditions, the team opted to focus on getting all three of its drivers- Jorg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany), Timo Bernhard (Dittweiler, Germany) and Patrick Long (Las Vegas, Nev., USA)- the required three laps in dark conditions rather than pursue fast lap times. With the rain expected to leave the Le Mans-area before tomorrow's final day of practice/ qualifying- an exact duplicate of today's with sessions from 7 PM to 9 PM and 10 PM to 12 midnight (local time)- team principals Michael Petersen (owner, Las Vegas), Dale White (Las Vegas) and Stefan Pfeiffer (Croatia) opted to end the final session approximately 40 minutes early.
The day was not without its challenges. An early session vibration plagued Long first, then Bergmeister. The team isolated the issue to the left rear of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. In a detailed pursuit of resolving the issue, the team first changed rear brake rotors. Having not cured the high speed vibration, they replaced both rear axles. The problem now gone, but the wet conditions remaining, Bergmeister returned to the track to lay-down the second fastest time of the first session (4:40.711). The second session continued without any further issues. In all the team would turn just 16 laps.
Petersen/ White Lightning will now turn its focus to tomorrow's final sessions as it pursues the first three-peat in GT2 (formerly GT) class by a privately-owned American race team at Le Mans. They captured the pole position and victory in 2003 in conjunction with Alex Job Racing. They repeated with the pole and win in GT class in 2004 with Bergmeister and Long driving. They returned in 2005 with three drivers all with GT2 class victories at Le Mans- Bergmeister and Long in 2004, Bernhard in 2002.
Dale White, team manager: "The weather changed our plan a little but that was no big deal. We altered it from working for the pole position to just getting the drivers comfortable in the car and to complete the three, timed laps that the ACO [Automobile Club De L'Ouest] requires them to put in in the dark. Overall, it won't have a major impact on our strategy for the race. We'll go out for a quick time tomorrow but, we're here for the race. That is our focus. We want to be P1 (winner) at the end of the day on Sunday, not today or tomorrow."
Jorg Bergmeister, driver: "I just did my minimum three laps in the dark. For the weather conditions the rain tires were not the perfect ones. It was more of an intermediate tire we needed if we wanted to go quicker. I know the track from last year and it didn't change too much; just a little. The new tarmac has quite a lot more grip, even in the rain, so that's pretty nice. My expectations for tomorrow are for nice weather hopefully."
More on Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing can be found at www.PetersenMotorsports.com. Learn more about Porsche at www.Porsche.com.