Dakar: Petersen/White Lightning stage 10 report

Michael Petersen Races to 18th in Tenth Stage of Euromilhões Dakar 2007 Petersen/White Lightning Continues in 21st Overall in Dakar Debut NEMA, Africa January 16, 2007 -- Two-time American Le Mans Series GT2 Champions Petersen...

Michael Petersen Races to 18th in Tenth Stage of Euromilhões Dakar 2007

Petersen/White Lightning Continues in 21st Overall in Dakar Debut

NEMA, Africa January 16, 2007 -- Two-time American Le Mans Series GT2 Champions Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing continued their strong debut in the Euromilhões Dakar 2007 in today's Stage 10. Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) drove the No. 351 MMPIE/PAWS/?.com/BF Goodrich Chevrolet T1.3 class buggy to his third-straight top-20 stage performances finishing 18th in the special timed section. Petersen and co-driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) finished the 366 km/227.42 mile special timed section in four hours, 21 minutes and eight seconds. The time was just 31 minutes, 20 seconds behind the stage-winning No. 309 BMW entry. Petersen/White Lightning is currently 21st overall in the rally after 10 stages. They are 11 hours, 25 minutes and 47 seconds behind the Dakar leader Stephane Peterhansel and less than one minute from the top-15 with five stages remaining. They are fifth overall for two-wheel drive vehicles in the car class.

Today's stage formed a large loop into the desert from the bivouac in the town of Nema. Due to concerns for participant safety, the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), the sanctioning body for Dakar, altered the initial route considerably. Stage Ten was created just days before the rally began on January 6. While a different location than the two proceeding stages, the terrain remained similar with gravel, sand and camel grass. The camel grass created a unique slalom for the cars early in the stage forcing constant adjustments never giving Petersen or Stevenson a physical or mental rest. The first 10 km/6.2 mile of the stage was a connection leading to the special timed section. The timed section brought them full-circle back to a 24 km/14.91 mile connection that lead them back to the bivouac. They covered a total of 400 km/248.55 miles in the stage. The result might have very well been better for the No. 351 had it not been for a broken air line 175 km/108.7 miles into the stage. It took Petersen and Stevenson approximately 15 minutes to make the repair. Had the 15 minute delay not occurred, the No. 351 would have found itself comfortably within the top-10 of the stage and the top-15 overall.

Because today's Stage 10 started and ended in Nema it gave Entrant/Program Manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT., USA) and team technicians Nico Castellaccio (Tracy, Calif.) and Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas) a longer respite than usual. That all changes tomorrow as the rally packs and moves to Ayoun. >From Ayoun, the stages seem to come more quickly as the finish line in Dakar, Senegal near the Atlantic Ocean, looms.

For the first time of the rally, except for the January 13 rest day in Atar, Stage 11 will offer no special timed section. Wednesday's 11th stage will be a 280 km/174 mile, paved connection from Nema to Ayoun. The 484 km/300.74 mile Stage 12 will return the competitors to the desert with a 257 km/159.7 mile special stage over sand and gravel. Stage 12 will bring them into Kayes where they will prepare for the final three stages of the 15 stage event.

A revision from yesterday's ninth stage. We reported that the team had broken into the top-20 for the first time overall as a result of Petersen's 16th-place stage finish. Near the end of the stage timing the No. 303 Volkswagen of Carlos Sainz completed the stage 94th to retain his tenth-place overall position therefore bumping the No. 351 to 21st overall.

Quotes

Mike Petersen, Owner/Driver:

(About the Stage 10): "There was a lot of traffic and backup in the bivouac so we started late this morning. That put us behind a lot of cars that are actually behind us in the standings. We had a hell-off-a time getting around them as it was dusty the first 100 k. The dust was really bad. There were cars and motorcycles everywhere. These people didn't know where they were going and didn't much care to let you around them. I drove the wheels off the car as much as I could to get clear of all of that. Once we got around them we were able to increase the speeds. When we got to the camel grass it was constant back and forth. There was no time you could relax. It was exhausting. We had an air line come off at about 175 kilometers in. That lost us probably 15 minutes. After that, I just gave it all that it had. That [time] was the best I could do with the down time. We're just trucking along."

(About the challenges of the event): "It has been fun. The guys have been busting their ass. Dale, Dennis, Nico; all the guys, are putting in longer days than I am. My hat is off to all the support guys. Driving the car is the easy part, what they are doing is tough. The guys are sleeping maybe two or three hours a night. The other night Dale came in at 3 AM and we had been there since about 9 PM. It's been the same for Dennis and Nico and they still have to work on the car once they get here. This makes the 24 hour races look like a walk in the park. We only have a couple more days then it is back to reality. We are going to stay doing what we are doing. We're just cruising to the finish. To push too hard and make a mistake this late in the going would be a huge blunder on my part. The best thing I can do for all the hard work these guys have put in is to bring it to the finish. We are looking forward to hopefully getting to the finish and getting a shower."

Dale White, Entrant/Program Manager:

"We've had a few little problems with the car but nothing major. Mike is doing a great job. The whole team is really performing well. We have learned a lot of what to do and what not to do. It has been a good experience but we're looking forward to doing this on our own next year."

Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has won nearly all the world's major motorsports endurance classics including the 24 Hours of Le Mans ('03 & '04), the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 overall ('95- '97), the 24 Hours At Daytona ('01), the 12 Hours of Sebring ('05) and the Petit Le Mans ('05 & '06). They have won over 50 off-road events and the American Le Mans Series GT2 Class Driver and IMSA Cup Championships ('05 and '06) and Team Championship ('05). 2007 marks the first of a three year Dakar program to complement their ongoing American Le Mans Series effort which will compete with drivers Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Tomas Enge (Monaco) in a Ferrari F430 GT in 2007.

-credit: www.PetersenMotorsports.com

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Carlos Sainz , Stéphane Peterhansel , Matthew Stevenson , Michael Petersen , Tim Bergmeister