White Lightning Racing Looks to Add Mid-Ohio to List of Winning Tracks Muller Returns for First Drive with Enge in No. 31 Ferrari LEXINGTON, Ohio, -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has long enjoyed the fast and flowing Mid-Ohio...
White Lightning Racing Looks to Add Mid-Ohio to List of Winning Tracks
Muller Returns for First Drive with Enge in No. 31 Ferrari
LEXINGTON, Ohio, -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has long enjoyed the fast and flowing Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course but the fabled track's victory lane has been elusive. In five American Le Mans Series starts in The Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned group has walked away with three top-five finishes, including two podiums, but has never won the two hour and 45- minute event. On July 21, the Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed team will attempt to capture their first GT2 class victory at Mid-Ohio adding to the lists of tracks the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT has won on. After an early season of driver flux, challenging for that first Mid-Ohio title will be the driving duo of Tomas Enge (a native of the Czech Republic now living in Monaco) and Dirk Muller (a German now living in Monaco). Though both have piloted the No. 31 Ferrari with great success this year, the Sports Car Challenge marks the first time the two have been paired together.
Muller, who currently leads the FIA GT Championship driving a Ferrari F430 GT to victory in three of the five races, stepped into the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Ferrari when Enge was injured at St. Petersburg in March. The 2000 American Le Mans Series GT2, then known as the GT class, Champion immediately proved fast in the V8, mid-engine exotic at Long Beach and Houston. Enge returned for the Salt Lake City round but Darren Turner (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England) subbed for Muller who had prior FIA commitments there and at Lime Rock Park. The potent combination of Enge-Turner went on to win the Salt Lake event, the first for the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing effort in 2007. Enge and Turner also controlled the Lime Rock race before falling to seventh after on-track contact knocked the No. 31 from the lead. Enge and Muller are now scheduled to combine for the remainder of the season putting two of the quickest drivers to ever compete in the road car-based formula together for the first time.
Of the nine courses on the 2007 American Le Mans Series schedule that have hosted two or more events, the two-time GT2 Driver Championship-winning program has won at least one event at every track but here at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Houston's Reliant Park street course. The Nevada- based effort has come close to victory at the 2.25-mile, 13-turn, natural terrain Mid-Ohio course several times. Two of the more excruciating glimpses of the Lexington, Ohio track's victory lane came in 2002 when they were bumped from the lead and last year's dominating performance that ended with a broken halfshaft late in the race. The team has a career high second-place taken in 2005.
The two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winning organization hopes to reclaim its winning stride this weekend relying on its traditional speed, strategy and pit lane performance. The No. 31 has set the fastest race lap in five of the six American Le Mans Series events held thus far in 2007 missing only Sebring's quick time by a few tenths of a second. Enge and Muller are tied for fast laps in the white Ferrari with the red lightning bolt down its flanks with two quickest race laps apiece (Enge at St. Petersburg and Salt Lake, Muller at Long Beach and Houston). Turner turned the trick at Lime Rock Park not only setting the race's fastest GT2 lap but establishing a new track record for the class in the process.
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "Mid-Ohio has always been a good track for our team. But somehow we've always just come-up short there. It is a pretty good comparison to our season this year. We have been quick everywhere but we haven't been able to keep the whole thing together anywhere but Salt Lake. With Dirk returning to the team and Tomas now back at full strength, we feel like we have the two fastest drivers in a Ferrari F430 in the world. Mike and I both feel that they will complement one-another and bring the best out of each other. We have all the pieces now we just need to make them fit."
Dirk Muller, Driver: "I am looking forward to being back behind the wheel of the Petersen/White Lightning car. We can look forward to some fantastic weekends coming. I am very much looking forward to this challenging race track. In my opinion, Mid-Ohio should suit the Ferrari even more than the street circuits I have driven the No. 31 on before. I know this track from my past and it has several quick corners which helps the Ferrari. Every lap I am driving a Ferrari I have a big smile on my face so I am very excited about racing in the American Le Mans Series. I am also looking forward to racing with Tomas. I know him from touring cars and from the FIA GT. It is a little strange for me to be his teammate because we are competitors in FIA GT but I am really looking forward to being teammates the rest of the season."
The Sports Car Challenge from Mid-Ohio will start at 3:15 pm (ET) on Saturday, July 21. Television coverage will be provided by CBS Sports, July 22 at 2 pm (ET). The event can be heard live on the American Le Mans Series Radio Web, available through the American Le Mans Series web site from 3-6 PM (ET).