Utah: Petersen/White Lightning Racing race report

Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Takes First GT2 Victory of the Season in Utah Enge Sets Fastest Lap in ALMS Return, Turner Takes Checkered Flag TOOELE, Utah, May 19, 2007 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing made its...

Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Takes First GT2 Victory of the Season in Utah

Enge Sets Fastest Lap in ALMS Return, Turner Takes Checkered Flag

TOOELE, Utah, May 19, 2007 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing made its return to the American Le Mans Series podium today with a GT2 class victory in the Utah Grand Prix. Tomas Enge (a native of the Czech Republic now living in Monaco) and Darren Turner (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England) took the No.31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT from the class pole position to victory lane while only briefly losing the lead. Finishing 11th overall, one lap ahead of its nearest GT2 competitor, the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, NV) owned team dominated the event. Enge, who started the race and drove the first hour, set the fastest race lap of the day- his second such distinction of the season. Turner, who was making his debut with the 2005 and 2006 GT2 Driver Championship-winning operation, drove the final hour and 40 minutes of the two hour and 45- minute race on the 24-turn, 4.5-mile Miller Motorsports Park (MMP) circuit. Today's victory was the tenth for the Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed team in the American Le Mans Series, the first with the Ferrari F430 GT. It was the fifth career American Le Mans Series victory for both Enge and Turner, their first in the GT2 class.

The victory was the first podium in what has been a trying season for the team. Despite being the fastest car in four of the five events and sitting on two class pole positions, including the one here at MMP, the team has struggled to earn that first win. The No. 31 sat on the front row and was leading the event going into the second turn of the 12 Hours of Sebring when it was hit. Repairs took 20 laps and they'd finish eighth. That was the only event in which the car missed setting fastest race lap. At the season's second event, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Enge looked certain for the win when he had hard contact with the wall and shattered his left elbow and broke several ribs. Dirk Müller (a German living in Monaco) set the fastest race la at the Long Beach Grand Prix in his premiere with the team. A race later, at the Grand Prix of Houston, the team looked destined for its first podium when Müller- who will return to the team at the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio on July 21- was penalized with less than five minutes remaining in the event dropping the No. 31 to fourth in class. And so went the season up till now.

It was the second consecutive victory for Enge and Turner here at the Utah track. The two combined to win the GT1 class event here last year. Enge is the current track record holder in both the GT1 and GT2 class after setting the pole-winning time here yesterday in the Ferrari F430 GT. Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will now have the until July 7th before it will be able go for back-to-back victories as the American Le Mans Series takes a hiatus for teams participating in the world-renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans. Despite being two-time class winners at Le Mans, Petersen and White opted-out of this year's event to focus on the American Le Mans Series championship. Enge and Turner will combine at Le Mans in the GT1 class.

Quotes

Mike Petersen, Team Owner: "This feels good. I am really happy for Tomas and Darren, of course. I am also really happy for the team. The whole crew has worked so hard to prepare a good race car and we have been really fast but could just never get the luck right. Everything fell into place this weekend for the first time this year and the results show that. Hopefully, this will get us back on track and maybe we can even make a dent in the championship battle from here on out."

Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "It has been a tough season on everyone but the guys never gave up. Everyone rallied around Tomas when he had his accident and all of that really paid-off here today I think. I knew if we just kept doing what we know to do, we'd get back here. Tomas did just an amazing job in the car. You can see that he is in pain whenever he gets in or out of the car but, when he is in it, you'd never know a thing was wrong. Darren also did a really great job for us this weekend. He stepped-in, supported Tomas when he needed to and took the lead when he needed to. We couldn't ask for or expect anymore out of anyone at Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. Everyone gave their all. This was a full team effort and the whole team deserves the credit."

Tomas Enge, Driver: "It's just incredible to believe what we have done this weekend! We didn't put a foot wrong. Everyone was working 100 percent without any mistakes. We just had the fastest car. I drove last year two races with a broken left wrist. From this experience I knew that I am capable to drive with injury on the left hand but, obviously, I didn't know how hard it would be to drive with the elbow so damaged. But, it wasn't too bad and that was why I was able to drive my maximum. It looks like, also, I got more hungry to get back to the car and being as fast as possible after just seven weeks out of the race car. It looks like it helped me to be even faster. I think my motivation was so big that I got into the rhythm very fast. I have to just thank everybody for such big support for the past month and a half since the accident. It's so many people it would be difficult to say all the names but, again, thank you everybody for your support and bringing me back so soon!"

Darren Turner, Driver: "Just a fantastic result for the team. I am very pleased for both Mike and Dale and the rest of the guys. Tomas drove a great first stint and put us in a good position. I personally wasn't so happy with my pace but it was OK. The only drama coming towards the end of the race with the flat spot [left front tire] and having to nurse the car home because of it. But, fortunately we had a cushion that allowed us to maintain our position and keep the win."

Television coverage of today's victory in the Utah Grand Prix will be provided by CBS Sports on May 20 at 1 pm (ET).

-credit: pm/wlr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Tomas Enge , Dirk Müller , Darren Turner , Michael Petersen