Curtain Falls on Euromilhues Dakar 2007, Petersen/White Lightning Earns 23rd Overall
Michael Petersen Takes Top-Eight Finish in Final Stage, Highest Result of Team's Debut
DAKAR, Africa January 21, 2007 -- The curtain has fallen on the Euromilhues Dakar 2007 and Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing was there to celebrate. And they did so in strong fashion! An eighth-place finish by Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) and co-driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) in today's final stage ensured Petersen/White Lightning the 23rd overall position in this year's event, an impressive result for a team in its debut at "The Dakar". Today's top-ten was the highest for the No. 351 MMPIE/PAWS/?.com/BF Goodrich Chevrolet T1.3 class buggy of the 15 stages that made up the 6,906 km/4,291 mile rally-raid this year.
Petersen used only eight minutes, 49 seconds to cover the 16 km/9.95 mile special timed section of the three-legged loop that encircled Lac Rose here in Dakar. In the process, he took honors as the second- highest ranking American driver of the stage-- Petersen is the third highest-finishing American in the car class for the overall rally. The Nevada-based team trailed the stage-winning No. 301 Volkswagen by only one minute and seven seconds at the conclusion of the timed portion of the 93 km/57.8 mile stage. After breaking the timing beam it was a pressure-relieving 41 km/25.5 mile celebration to the finish line of the second liaison.
In the overall standings, Petersen/White Lightning finished the 14 timed sections (Stage 11 on January 15 had no timed section) in 60 hours, seven minutes and 59 seconds. The time was 14 hours, 14 minutes and 22 seconds behind Euromilhues Dakar 2007 Champion Stephane Peterhansel who earned his ninth Dakar victory today. The No. 351 MMPIE/PAWS/?.com/BF Goodrich Chevrolet, built by Team SMG, was fifth overall in the two-wheel drive category. Of the 177 cars that entered the rally in Lisbon, Portugal only 109 saw the checkered flag here in Dakar, Senegal.
Today's successful conclusion is a time of celebration and joy for the Petersen/White Lightning team. From the onset, the mission for 2007 was to accumulate information first hand of how to successfully navigate the treacheries of the event. To do so, it was important to reach the Atlantic Ocean, not necessarily reach the top-30 of competitors. Four vehicles associated with the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winning team set out from Lisbon towards Dakar in pursuit of information and experience. The No. 351 buggy of Petersen and Stevenson and the No. 572 of Darren Skilton (Long Beach, Calif., USA) were the only two directly on the race's course. The No. 671 Toyota Land Cruiser of program manager/entrant Dale White (Bozeman, MT., USA) and the No. 891 six wheel, three-person, T5 class support truck of team technicians Nico Castellaccio (Tracy, Calif.) and Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas) ran parallel to the actual race route. Skilton's No. 572 was the only one of the four not to reach Dakar, having fallen out on Stage Two with an engine failure. Each team member has compiled a long list of notes that will help streamline and focus the 2008 effort on an all-out assault for victory in the desert.
While the immediate future holds celebration of its success at the Euromilhues Dakar 2007, the team will quickly return its attention to the impending 2007 American Le Mans Series GT2 class championship. Petersen/White Lightning will return for the fifth full- season of American Le Mans Series racing where they have won the Driver and IMSA Cup titles the last two seasons. The March 17th 12 Hours of Sebring will bring the debut of the team's Ferrari F430 GT and drivers Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Tomas Enge (Monaco).
-credit: Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing