Petersen/White Lightning Doesn't Second Guess Le Mans Decision Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Le Mans History Is Strong, But Forgoing '07 Was Right Choice Lime Rock, ALMS Championship, Return to Le Mans in '08 Prevail PAHRUMP,...
Petersen/White Lightning Doesn't Second Guess Le Mans Decision
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Le Mans History Is Strong,
But Forgoing '07 Was Right Choice
Lime Rock, ALMS Championship, Return to Le Mans in '08 Prevail
PAHRUMP, Nev., June 14, 2007 - For the first time since 2003 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing isn't spending the day preparing for the final practice and qualifying session at the 24 Heures du Mans. Instead, the two- time LM GT, now LM GT2, class winners at the prestigious French race are readying for the next American Le Mans Series event, to be held at Lime Rock Park, in early July. Team owner Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) and team manager/entrant Dale White (Bozeman, MT., USA) made the decision to forgo the team's invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on April 11. Since that time, neither Petersen nor White has had a second thought about the decision. Their focus is now clearly on Round Six of the American Le Mans Series season at Lime Rock and capturing the GT2 championship with the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT. Nonetheless, the team has every intention of being back at the Circuit de la Sarthe this time next year.
Never far from anyone's mind is the intense competition of the GT2 class and how to gain an edge. The 10-time American Le Mans Series race winners, including the most recent round in Salt Lake City, have not been letting the last three weeks go to waste. Midway through the "Le Mans Break" team members have been focused on preparing the No. 31 Ferrari F430 GT for the remainder of the season. Shop work, equipment repair and general car maintenance are on the job list. Final pre-race preparations for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will take place the last two weeks of June. The team will arrive in Connecticut on July 4 for the July 7 event.
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing is not without representation in France however. Team drivers Tomas Enge (a native of the Czech Republic now living in Monaco) and Darren Turner (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England) will be teammates, albeit in separate cars, for Aston Martin Racing in the LM GT1 class this weekend at Le Mans. Enge is attempting to extend his record pole position streak to six consecutive fastest laps. He has earned the pole every time he has raced at Le Mans. He won the event in 2003 driving a Ferrari in the GTS, now known as GT1, class.
The team's Le Mans success was found quickly. In 2003, Petersen and White teamed with Alex Job Racing to take a convincing pole position and victory at La Sarthe. In 2004, the team took on the daunting circuit on their own and repeated the results. An accident in qualifying put a three-peat in jeopardy but an amazing rebuild allowed the Nevada-based team to return with a second-place in '05. Three top-two finishes in three years was an impressive debut for the small, tight-knit American team. Coming off their first American Le Mans Series Driver, Team and IMSA Cup Championship in 2005, they took on another partner for 2006. However, a mid-race accident would relegate it to a disappointing 11th in class- the worst class finishing position the team has ever endured in American Le Mans Series or Le Mans competition. 2007 was intended to be the team's return, this time with the Ferrari F430 GT. However, an accident at St. Petersburg in March and the loss of a sponsor just days before the Le Mans deadline forced the team to sit out this year's event. Petersen and White opted instead to focus on the American Le Mans Series.
As an endurance team, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has relished competing at the world's premier long distance events like Le Mans. Beyond the two victories at Le Mans, the team has won the Petit Le Mans twice ('05, '06), the 12 Hours of Sebring ('05), the Monterey Sports Car Championship ('05), the 24 Hours At Daytona ('01) and the Six Hours of the Glen ('98) in their class. Not to be restricted to sports car racing, the pairing has also taken home three consecutive Baja 500 and Baja 1000 overall titles ('95-'97) and this year finished as the second- highest privateer entrant at the world's most dangerous and challenging motorsports event, the Euromilhões Dakar 2007. In late May they announced their intentions to return to Dakar with their own custom-built buggy in 2008 and 2009.
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: About Missing Le Mans: "It has definitely been a different May and June for us. Of course we miss not being at Le Mans, especially this week, but I haven't doubted for a second we made the right choice. With everything that happened since Sebring, plus losing the sponsor for Le Mans at the last minute, the team needed this month off. We have used the momentum from the win in Salt Lake City to maintain our focus for Lime Rock and the rest of the season. Usually I would be worried about missing all the laps that our competition is now getting at Le Mans but the team is so focused, so in-tune with the Ferrari F430 GT that I am not worried. I think the break is our biggest asset right now. Some of these guys, including Mike and myself, have been going since Laguna Seca last year. We had Dakar, we had the building of two F430 GTs, we had the struggles at Sebring, the accident at St. Pete, the changes at Long Beach and Houston. We have been gaining on it and now we can walk into Lime Rock really refreshed. There won't be any worries of having to build an entire car in paddock like we had to do last year when we get there."
What has the team been doing since Salt Lake City?: "We have been doing a lot of the little things that you always want to do and don't usually have time for. We've been doing things around the shop, to the trailer, detail items on the car and the equipment. Most importantly, the guys haven't had to be working 14-15 hour days like we have been. They have been able to spend time with their families. We have guys going to Le Mans as spectators; one of the crew is in the Philippines with the family of his new wife. So, we have been using the time really well both at the shop and away. We'll start the serious pre-Lime Rock prep work at the end of June and be relaxed and ready to go for another Lime Rock win in July."
Will he watch Le Mans on SPEED Channel?: "Saturday and Sunday I am confident to say the whole team is going to be watching at least some of the race. We have Tomas and Darren racing with the Aston in GT1 and you want to cheer them on. So, I'll definitely watch some of it but I won't promise you I'll be up for 24 straight hours like I have been the last four years."
About Future Le Mans Plans: "My only regret of missing Le Mans this year is not being able to represent Ferrari there. We have every intention of doing that in 2008."