Dumbreck, Luhr Look to Give Team Second Victory of '07 in Season Finale
MONTEREY, Calif. October 15, 2007 - Every event on the American Le Mans Series schedule is looked at with anticipation and potential by Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. However, the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 20th offers a history that ratchets-up the energy for the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev. /Southern Calif.) owned team. Not only is the four hour race into the night on the Monterey Peninsula the last opportunity for the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT to add a second GT2 class victory to the season total, it is also an event ripe with past successes for the Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed program. The 12th race of the year gives Peter Dumbreck (born in Scotland but living in Adderbury, England) and Lucas Luhr (born in Koblenz, Germany but now living in Ermatingen, Switzerland) a great opportunity to bring home the team's third podium finish and its second win at Laguna Seca.
The Nevada-based team made their American Le Mans Series debut at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn facility in 1999. At that time the GT, now known as GT2, class car was driven by Petersen and White to a sixth-place finish, the team's first Series top-10. Shortly after the Laguna debut, White stopped driving the car to focus on the management of the team. The transition was successful as the program has taken two Series GT2 Driver and IMSA Cup Championships ('05, '06) and two 24-Hours of Le Mans GT2 race victories since. Prior to leaving the driver's seat, Dale White had two official Series starts earning top-ten finishes in both. His best career finish was the sixth here at Laguna. In his time as a driver in the Series, Petersen made four starts with a career best finish, a fourth, coming here at Laguna Seca in 2000. His other three starts all netted top-ten finishes as well. Petersen would eventually follow White out of the sports cars though he continues to do test and development work. Petersen returned to the cockpit earlier this year driving a Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing buggy in the Euromilhões Dakar Rally 2007. He finished as the second-highest privateer entrant in the team's premiere at the world's most difficult motorsports event earlier this year. The team will return in January of 2008 for a second effort at Dakar.
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing's history runs even deeper at the Northern Californian race track than already mentioned. They made their first Professional Sports Car Racing event start, a series which was the immediate predecessor to the American Le Mans Series, here in 1998. They followed that with a World Challenge Series victory, one of three, in 2000 and a sixth in that support series event in 2001.
In fact, the team enjoys a better-than-average finish at the track. Their 3.9 place average finish compares against an average finish of 5.8 at all other tracks that the team has competed on in sports car racing- regardless of series or year. The team finished on the podium in three of the last four years here: second in 2006, a victory in 2005 and third in 2003. It has finished in the top-five in five of its seven starts and never lower than sixth.
Luhr is no stranger to Laguna Seca either. In fact, several career changing moments for the German have occurred at the track. He has earned four victories here which ties him for second on the all- time records list for most wins at the same venue. He earned those titles in both GT2 and LMP2 class. Luhr debuted the Porsche RS Spyder at the track in 2005 taking an LMP2 victory. He followed that by clinching his third American Le Mans Series Driver title- first in LMP2- in the car here last year.
Dumbreck is a stranger to Laguna Seca but not to fast road courses. As it has been at each venue since joining Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing at Road America in August, this Saturday's event will be the first time Dumbreck has seen the track. He has acclimated himself well to North America's premier road racing series with three top-five finishes in four starts including a podium at Detroit. Laguna marks the first time that he will not co-drive with Ferrari factory driver Dirk Muller (a German now living in Monaco). Muller will miss this weekend's race to focus on the FIA GT season finale where he holds a narrow lead in the driver point championship after clinching the team and manufacturer's title in that series.
Dumbreck and Luhr both practiced in the No. 31 Ferrari F430 GT Petit Le Mans two weeks ago. However, in the morning warm-up, Audi requested that Luhr be released to drive their LMP1 entry after the team's primary driver was not cleared to drive. Petersen and White agreed to allow Luhr to pilot the car at Atlanta thereby delaying Luhr's racing return to the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing team until this weekend. Previously, Luhr has driven the No. 31 three times, each to a victory: the 24 At Daytona (2001), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2003) and the 12 Hours of Sebring (2005).
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant:
"We have always had good results at Laguna. It was the first track that Mike and I came to race in the American Le Mans Series so it carries a lot of good memories. I think the track fits the Ferrari really well. With our knowledge of the track gathered since '98, the driver lineup we have this weekend with Lucas and Peter and our desire to leave the season on top, I am very confident going into the weekend."
Peter Dumbreck, Driver:
(About learning new tracks like Laguna Seca): "The hardest thing for me about learning new tracks is finding the braking points and maximum corner speed quickly without making any mistakes and putting the car off the road. I find it better to be a bit more cautious in the beginning. If you do push too hard in the first few laps of a new track and you spin, you risk damage to the car that can really set you back on a race weekend."
(About racing in the dark): "The tricky part about driving in the dark is anticipating what the faster prototypes are doing as they lap you. All you see from in the car are two very bright lights getting closer. Of course, it is very important not to miss braking and turn-in points for corners but every lap you drive it gets easier."
(About racing with a new teammate this weekend): "Lucas and I got on well in Road Atlanta. I think we will have no problem finding a set up that we both can drive quickly at Laguna Seca."
(Reviewing his five races in the American Le Mans Series): "I've enjoyed the championship very much. I've learned a lot of lessons from my races so far. Probably the biggest lesson is that there really is a widespread of speed from the fastest to the slowest cars. If you forget that for even the slightest second, it can easily result in an accident!"
Lucas Luhr, Driver:
"For sure I have a lot of good memories about Laguna Seca. It is a really nice race track. The surroundings are really nice and it is enjoyable to go there. I have two good memories there; '05, when we brought the Spyder there for its first race and then, for sure, to win the driver championship there last year. Just from the last two or three years that I have had there, I think we can adapt to that this year and have some successes with Petersen/White Lightning."
The Monterey Sports Car Championship will start at 2:43 PM (PT) on Saturday, October 20 with live television coverage on SPEED Channel. The event can also be heard live on the American Le Mans Series Radio Web, available through the American Le Mans Series web site.