Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Announces Lopez as Third Sebring Driver PAHRUMP, Nev., March 6, 2007 -- With the addition of Jose Maria Lopez (Cordoba, Argentina), Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has completed its driver lineup...
Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Announces Lopez as Third Sebring Driver
PAHRUMP, Nev., March 6, 2007 -- With the addition of Jose Maria Lopez (Cordoba, Argentina), Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has completed its driver lineup for the 55th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Lopez will share the No. 32 EquiWest/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT with full- season drivers Maurizio Mediani (Reggio Emilia, Italy) and Rui Aguas (Porto, Portugal) for the legendary event. The drivers now announced, Corsa Motorsports can place full attention on its debut in the American Le Mans Series. Its GT2 indoctrination comes on March 17 at Sebring International Raceway where the Corsa Ferrari will be fielded along-side the two-time American Le Mans Series GT2 Championship- winning No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT of Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing.
As it does for Corsa, Sebring marks many first for Lopez. The American Le Mans Series season- opening race will be the open wheel standout's first endurance race, his premiere in an American Le Mans Series event, his debut on the United States motorsports scene and his birth as a sports car racer. Lopez has also never driven a Ferrari in competition. Despite the list of firsts, what he has done in his young career has been impressive. The 23 year-old got his start in karting before eventually becoming a Renault Development Driver where he helped shakedown the Renault F1 cars. Lopez, nicknamed Pechito Lopez, has raced the last two years in the GP2 Series where he earned two victories in the Formula 1 feeder Series (Magny-Cours in '06 and Barcelona in '05). His search for a full-season opportunity either in North America or Europe brought him to the attention of Steve Pruitt, owner of Corsa Motorsports, who chose Pechito as his third driver for Sebring.
Lopez will join his teammates in the 32 car as well as the 31 Petersen Motorsports-entry at Sebring on March 12. The program will then spend the week testing, practicing and qualifying the pair of new Ferrari F430 GTs prior to the endurance classic. Lopez will have to rely heavily on his new team, including veteran team manager/entrant Dale White (Bozeman, MT) and team engineer Frank Funke (Wetter, Germany), as well as co-drivers Mediani, Aguas and his teammates in the 31 car; Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Tomas Enge (Monaco) to find his rhythm on the circuit in the brand new cars. Memo Gidley (Novato, Calif.) will be the reserve driver in the Petersen Motorsports Ferrari.
Quotes: Steve Pruitt, Owner: "There are many fast and quick young drivers. Finding that special one who could not only drive but had the personality and communication skills to fit into a championship environment were all critical in the decision process. In order to provide us the greatest chance of not just being competitive at Sebring but winning we needed the right driver. Jose, a.k.a. Pechito, was made to order. He is intelligent, fast and strategic with F1 experience through the Renault Driver Development program. His extensive experience in GP2 will provide a well-rounded lineup for Corsa/White Lightning. Fluent in English, Italian and French, Pechito will fit in well amongst the different cultures and languages from the team to the drivers to manufacturers as we begin to sort out a car we have little experience with."
Dale White, Entrant/Team Manager: "Between Tim (Bergmeister), Tomas (Enge) and Memo (Gidley) in the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports Ferrari and with the addition of Jose to the already impressive lineup of Maurizio and Rui in the 32 Corsa car, I am very excited to get to Sebring. The depth of this driver lineup is the best we have ever had in our cars. Jose is young, has never driven an endurance event, never raced a sports car, but comes with an impressive resume. By leaning on the background of Maurizio and Rui in the F430 GT and Tim and Tomas here at Sebring, he'll be up to speed quickly. We're confident he will be quick and adapt well."
Jose Maria Lopez, Driver: "For me, racing for Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing with a Ferrari F430 is like a dream come true! Since I was young, I always dreamed about one day driving a Ferrari car. After nine years competing in Europe with formula cars, this is going to be my first time in a sport car and in this kind of races. This is going to be a challenge for me. I can't wait to be in Sebring and be part of this great event and great team. I hope to adapt to this car and the track to give my 100% as soon as I can."