Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Regretfully Relinquishes Le Mans Invite
Two-Time Class Champs Pass on 2007 24 Hour To Focus on American Le Mans Series
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 11, 2007 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing publicly declared today that it will, regretfully, relinquish its invitation to compete in the 75th Annual 24 Heures du Mans. On Tuesday, team manager and official entrant Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) made the two-time Le Mans class-winning (2003 and 2004) team's decision known to the Automobile Club De L'Ouest (ACO), official sanctioning body of the race. The judgment to forgo the honor of racing at Le Mans, made by White and team owner Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA), was difficult and followed long and serious deliberation. However, a sequence of early season challenges led to the decision to focus on the GT2 championships in the American Le Mans Series.
The invitation, which was presented by the ACO for the team's impressive results in previous 24 Hours as well as in the American Le Mans Series, was sought prior to the American Le Mans Series season-opener, the 12 Hours of Sebring, in March. Since that time, the Nevada-based team has had two cars seriously damaged in the first two GT2 races of the season. The first, the No. 32 Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Ferrari F430 GT suffered substantial fire damage at Sebring on March 17th. That Steve Pruitt- owned car remains in Italy undergoing repairs by Michelotto Automobili. The Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing entry was totaled in an accident while leading the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The team is currently building a new Ferrari F430 GT in order to compete in Saturday's Grand Prix of Long Beach with the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT.
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has competed four times at Le Mans only once finishing off the podium. Included in their history at the world's most famous sports car race are the two victories in their first two visits, a second-place in 2005 and an 11th in class in 2006 after an accident near the race's half-way point. White applied for and received the coveted invitation in the first round of entries distributed by the ACO in February.
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "I can't express our disappointment that we will not have the honor of competing in the diamond anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mike and I became concerned that the level of commitment to do a proper Le Mans program would draw too much away from our American Le Mans Series effort. Since our program here in the States is our first focus, we were not willing to risk it or willing to go to Le Mans with anything but the highest commitment to win. Sending the news to the ACO was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done in racing. The ACO was very generous in their invitation and, prior to recent events, we had every intention of returning to Le Mans and going for our third victory there, our first with the Ferrari. However, we will have to wait until next year."