Photo by John Thawley Long Week of Work Paid-Off with Sixth-Place Performace, Fastest GT2 Race Lap
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 14, 2007 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing closed- out its remarkable comeback from a devastating accident two weeks ago with a sixth-place finish at the Long Beach Grand Prix today. Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Dirk Müller (a native of Germany, living in Monaco) drove the No.31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT to its third top-ten performance of the three race-old American Le Mans Series season after qualifying fourth on the Southern Claifornia street course. While the results are atypical for the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned team, which is more accustom to victory lane, the speed and performance of the drivers and the team is not. As the Nevada-based operation has done in the two previous events, the No. 31 set the fastest GT2 class race lap today with Müller turning the time of one minute, 21.465 seconds on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary track.
The day was not without its problems, however. When Bergmeister, who was starting the race, hit the push- button starter on the dash, the V8 engine sputtered and stopped. After three attempts, the car started but Bergmeister reported a serious idle problem. A solution was found quickly by Ferrari technicians. The repair set the idle of the car higher than usual, causing a throttle-induced understeer, but without it, the car would not run. The drivers learned to drive through the problem and the team opted not to correct it on their one pit stop (which came at the one hour mark).
Finishing the one hour and 40-minute American Le Mans Series race was a victory in itself for the two- time Series GT2 Champions. On March 31, regular team driver Tomas Enge (from the Czech Republic now living in Monaco) was injured in an accident at St. Petersburg, Fla. Enge shattered his left elbow in the incident but is healing quickly and expects to be back in the No. 31 Ferrari at Lime Rock Park in July. The car that he was driving was totaled forcing the Dennis Chizma-led team to build a brand new Ferrari F430 GT from the chassis in just three days. An amazing task by any account made more impressive by today's result.
The Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed team now turns its immediate focus to Houston, Tex. where the American Le Mans Series will race next Saturday, April 21. Houston's JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park is the third temporary street course in as many races for the team. The two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winners earned a second-place last year at the 1.7- mile, 10-turn course around Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome.
Mike Petersen, Owner: "It was a tough time just to get the car here. To actually have a race car and not to have any serious trouble is great. Our goal was pretty much to survive and get to Houston. Again we had the fastest car in GT2 and with all that we went through that is very encouraging. We just need to get some good luck. Onto the next race with a complete race car, no damage and no one is hurt. Hopefully next weekend we can get back to the podium."
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "These guys are awesome. It is a miracle we are even here and to come out with the result we did; we couldn't ask for more. I am just so proud of every single guy on this team."
Dirk Müller, Driver: "The car was awesome! I got a little engine understeer but it was not really disturbing me. I wasn't pushing. I hardly sweated and usually I sweat quite a lot. I really enjoyed it. I really like this car. It is really awesome. My thanks to the guys. I was expecting traffic much worse with prototypes coming from behind. But, their behavior was really quite nice and I appreciate this. In the year 2000 and even in 2001 it was much tougher with the prototypes with many more collisions. It was all nice and clean racing here. I enjoyed this very much."
More on Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing can be found at www.PetersenMotorsports.com
To learn more about Ferrari's road cars as well as their remarkable motorsports history, please visit www.FerrariWorld.com.
For more on the ALMS, please visit www.AmericanLeMans.com