Petersen Motorsports Turns Focus to Rally in 2008
Two-Time Championship-Winning Owner to Shutter Sports Car Effort Until 2009
PAHRUMP, Nev., January 17, 2008 - 2003 and 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans GT class winners. 2005 American Le Mans Series GT2 Driver, IMSA Cup and Team Champions. 2006 American Le Mans Series GT2 Driver and IMSA Cup Champions. 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona GT winners, second overall. 2005 12 Hours of Sebring GT2 winners. 2005 and 2006 Petit Le Mans GT2 winners. 10-time American Le Mans Series race winners.
Since entering professional sports car racing in 1998, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has set the standard for what a sports car racing team should be on the track and off. With all of that success and a renewed enthusiasm in off-road, marathon-style rally racing, such as the Euromilhões Dakar, Team Owner Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) has decided to turn the focus of Petersen Motorsports away from international sports car racing to international rally racing for the 2008 season.
White Lightning Racing, owned by Team Manager and Entrant Dale White (Bozeman, MT), began a vigorous search for a partner to continue the team's participation in the GT2 class with Ferrari, Michelin, MOMO and Tifosi Eyewear. However, no marketing partner has been finalized at this time eliminating the team's prospects of making the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring on March 15. For his part, Mike Petersen is actively pursuing marketing partners to mount a full return in 2009 to the American Le Mans Series.
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing began operation in the late 1980s competing in off-road endurance events. The effort earned championships in SODA, SCORE and SNORE, over 50 off-road wins and 80 podiums as well as class victories in both the Baja 1000 and Baja 500 (overall titles in 1995, '96 and '97 and a Class 8 title in '98) and represented Chevrolet/GM Motorsports as a factory team from 1995-'99.
In 2007, the program returned to the world of off-road racing with an impressive debut in Euromilhões Dakar 2007. Michael Petersen drove in the two wheel- drive class with co-driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) to 23rd-place overall finish, fifth in the class and as the third-highest finishing American in the team's Dakar debut. Petersen Motorsports was scheduled to compete in its second Dakar rally with the No. 331 Petersen Motorsports/MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/BF Goodrich Chevrolet from January 5-20th. However, that event, the first major marathon rally of the season, was canceled due to terrorist threats.
Petersen anticipates adding as many as four additional FIA Marathon Rally World Cup events to his 2008 schedule. The Marathon Rally World Cup includes the Optic Tunisia Rally in Africa, the Vodafone Rally Transiberico in Portugal, the Por las Pampas Rally in Argentina and Asia's UAE Desert Challenge. The exact schedule for Petersen Motorsports will be announced in the near future.
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing would like to thank the many partners that have supported it in the American Le Mans Series and international sports car racing including Michelin Tires, Ferrari, MOMO, Tifosi Eyewear, Piloti, Justice Brothers, Hella and AVID Design. Team principals would also like to thank the American Le Mans Series, IMSA, ACO and all the drivers, technicians and team members that have been such valuable parts of the team's success.
Michael Petersen, Owner: "This was truly a difficult decision. We have had such a great run of success in the American Le Mans Series and at Le Mans. However, it came time to make the decision and I am really enjoying my time in off-road racing again. I believe that the American Le Mans Series is a great series but I feel like this is absolutely the right decision for Petersen Motorsports at this time. While we have had great success in sports car racing it is time for a new challenge and few challenges are greater than marathon rallies. I do want to take this time to thank Ferrari and Michelin for their support and to all the guys on the team that have given so much to the program over the years."
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "Unfortunately, this ends a long tradition in the American Le Mans Series with Mike and I want to thank him for his support. We have had a lot of success together in sports car racing. At the same time, White Lightning Racing is eager to continue our participation in the American Le Mans Series. We are actively working to get our program back in place as soon as possible. I definitely want to thank all of our partners like Petersen Motorsports, Ferrari, Michelin and everyone at the American Le Mans Series and IMSA for their support before and since this decision. Not only have they proven to be great partners on the track but great friends off the track. I can't say enough about every team member who has walked through our door. I have a lot of respect and am very grateful to everyone that has worn a Petersen/White Lightning firesuit over the years."
-credit: Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing