Petersen/White Lightning to Start Second in Class in Portland ALMS Race

July 21, 2006

2005 GT2 Champions Earn Spot in Klein Pit Crew Challenge Semi-Finals

PORTLAND, Ore., — Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will start second in tomorrow’s American Le Mans Portland Grand Prix. Jörg Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) turned a time of one minute, 13.235 seconds to put the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Michelin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR onto the GT2 class front row. It is the Michael Petersen-owned team’s fourth front row start in six qualification attempts this year. Included in the tally are two pole positions. The team has won once (Lime Rock Park) in 2006. Further highlighting the day was a successful bid towards the Klein Pit Crew Challenge Finals. The Dale White-managed team advanced to the semi-finals finishing with the third quickest time in today’s round with a 49.657 second stop. Overall, the time turned-in by the Dennis Chizma-led crew is fifth quickest overall. The final eight will be cut to four at Road America on August 20.

Temperatures will again be a major player in tomorrow’s American Le Mans Series race. The 2005 Series GT2 champions will face unusually high temperatures just as they did at Salt Lake City one week ago, where the finished second in class. During today’s 20-minute qualifying session for tomorrow’s two hour and 45-minute race, ambient temperatures were at 108 degrees (Fahrenheit) while track temperatures hit 135. Cockpit temperatures spiked at over 130 as well. Conditions for tomorrow’s 6 PM (PT) start are expected to be the same as today.

The team faced two major obstacles today on the track. The first came when Long reported a high-speed vibration at the rear of the car in the opening practice of the day. Finding the driver-side driveshaft had failed, the team did a remarkable pit lane exchange of the shaft taking only 21 minutes. Bergmeister was able to take the car onto the track for the final 20 minutes of the hour-long practice turning the third-quickest time of the session.

The second issue was even more quickly resolved. While on track in the second, one hour practice of the day, the driver-side window separated from the car when the glue holding it place failed due to the heat. The Plexiglas window was ripped from the car on Portland International Raceway’s back straightaway. The suction of air then pulled the outside mirror glass into the cockpit. Long immediately returned to pit lane where the ever vigilant organization had a second door at the ready. A quick change of the full door assembly allowed Bergmeister to go out and set the second fastest time of the session.


Dale White, Team Manager: "The team again showed why they are so good. They did that complete driveshaft change in just over 21 minutes and that included the time to determine what was wrong with the car. Doing that in perfect conditions is tough; doing it on pit road in that time is really impressive. Changing out the door was a little easier but it again shows the importance of being prepared for anything. Tomorrow, we’ll need to plan our strategy around the conditions. The heat will be tough on the drivers and the tires. It will be really hard on the crew too. But, you put all of that out of your mind and just go out and do your job. Our job is to win."

Jörg Bergmeister, Driver: "Unfortunately, I had the rubber come off the clutch pedal on my first qualifying lap. It got behind the throttle so I had to come in and have that removed. That cost us one lap of the peak of the tires. On my first flying lap I put two wheels off the track and the second lap the tires already started losing the peak a little bit. The [one minute] 13.2 [second lap] was all we had. The Ferrari, again, was in a different class. Our consistency on old tires looks pretty good. Our race setup should hopefully keep us a little closer to the Ferrari than it looked in qualifying. For the race it is going to be important to keep the tires in good shape and run your own pace; not overdrive the car. Then we will have to see where we end up."

Patrick Long, Driver: "I’m very positive looking into tomorrow. I think the conditions and this track present a pretty equal scenario for all the teams and cars. In saying that, I think that we have one of the best setups out there, one of the best driver lineups and there is no reason we can’t go out and win tomorrow. Jörg did a great lap in qualifying. Our consistency on old tires has been as good as anybody’s. We need to play the strategy and stay out of trouble and we should be there at the finish tomorrow."

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