Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing's charge for IMSA Cup and Petit win cut short
BRASELTON, Ga., October 18, 2003 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing entered today's American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Petit Le Mans endurance event here at Road Atlanta racing the No. 35 Risi Competizione Ferrari for a GT class victory as well as the IMSA Cup- an award giving to the highest finishing privateer effort. However, all of that would end when the car was damaged beyond on-site repair while fighting for the lead with the Ferrari. One hour into the 10 hour/ 1000 mile race, Johnny Mowlem was forced off the track while racing with the No. 35 driven by Ralf Kelleners. Mowlem made hard contact with the turn-12 wall but only sustained minor bruising. The No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/MMPIE/PAWS/XtraJet/Justice Brothers Porsche 911 GT3 RS, driven by Mowlem of Warfield, England and Craig Stanton of Long Beach, Calif., had charged from sixth on the grid to second at the time of the incident. This marks the first time since July of 2002 that the White Lightning Racing-prepared Porsche had failed to finish in the top-five in class at an ALMS event that it had entered.
"David Murry in the No. 79 Porsche was holding me up but I couldn't get passed him," commented Mowlem shortly after returning the paddock following the incident. "I couldn't pass him cleanly so I was bidding my time. I eventually got along-side him going into (turn) 10-a and 10-b. We went side-by-side and I decided that it was too dangerous and too early to race that hard. So, I backed off and let him have it going through (turn) 12. (Ralf) Kelleners decided to use that as an opportunity to come underneath me. I tried to give him as much room as I could but it was so dirty off-line that I was just holding on. I would have made it down the hill but, just as I had it back, he came and hit me. I am just so disappointed for the Petersen/White Lightning guys. They have worked so hard all season-long and we were so close to a solid finish in the points. I just feel so badly for the guys. The car was perfect, flawless. It was running so well we would have likely had a very good result."
Michael Petersen, car owner of the No 31 Michelin-shod Porsche, conveyed the team's feelings. "It's a major let down. It was a competitive race, one of the most completive GT (class) races all season and we were right there in it. It's a shame that people can't be more patient in a ten hour race. Overall, I am disappointed for the team as a whole. It meant a lot to the team and me to be in contention at this point in the season after missing three races. This just isn't the way we wanted to end it. Now it'll just be a super long lay-off until Sebring."
Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing began operation in the late 1980s competing in off-road endurance events. The duo of Petersen and White joined to win over 50 off-road truck victories including three-consecutive overall wins at the Baja 1000 and Baja 500 and four SCORE, SNORE and SODA championships. Since introducing the team to sports car racing, the effort has scored victories in the ALMS, the Trans-Am Series, Speed Challenge Series and endurance sports car wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Watkins Glen and at the Rolex 24 of Daytona.
For more, please visit www.PetersenMotorsports.com.