Detroit: Petersen/White Lightning qualifying report

Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing Third in Detroit Street Qualifying GT2 Class Sees Greatest Challenges at Course Like Belle Isle DETROIT August 31, 2007 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will start third in tomorrow's ...

Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing Third in Detroit Street Qualifying
GT2 Class Sees Greatest Challenges at Course Like Belle Isle

DETROIT August 31, 2007 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will start third in tomorrow's American Le Mans Series Detroit Sports Car Challenge. Dirk Muller (a native of Germany now living in Monaco) turned a lap of one minute, 25.030 seconds on his fifth tour of the 2.125- mile, 14-turn circuit that runs through Detroit's Belle Isle. Qualifying came after just two practices on the new circuit as Muller and teammate Peter Dumbreck (born in Scotland but living in Adderbury, England) sought to learn the quick but narrow track in the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT. The third-place starting position, 17th overall, for the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned team is the third consecutive Ferrari 1-2-3 start.

Challenge is the operative word in the title of this weekend's two hour and 45-minute race. The tight Belle Isle circuit exasperates all of the standard challenges of the GT2 class. All of the field must learn the course and determine how to make passes for position but for the GT2 class the challenges are doubled. As the most road-based of all entries in the Series, the GT2 class must watch their mirrors as well as their windshields. The full-out prototypes in LMP1 and LMP2 will be lapping the GT2 classes approximately every five to eight laps. As the No. 31 Ferrari fights for the lead in its class, the overtaking prototypes are also in a battle for position. The combination can be volatile as was shown in several on-track incidents in practice.

In the day's first practice session, the nose of the Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed Ferrari was damaged as a result of such inter-class contact. The damage resulted when a chain-reaction incident led to Dumbreck hitting the back of one of the Audi LMP1 entries. The Audi had slowed quickly trying to avoid an errant wheel of a GT2 Porsche which had slammed the outside wall ripping the rear wheel from the car. The shattering of the Italian exotic's carbon fiber nose occurred just minutes from the end of the one hour and 30 minute practice but was repaired in time for the second session.

The ongoing issue of when the yellow flag falls is also a concern. If the overall leader of the race has come between the first and second places cars in class when a caution flag flies, the entire GT2 field can be relegated to a battle for second-place regardless of how closely they chased the class leader just moments earlier. Therefore, it is critical that the Nevada-based team is either leading GT2 or is right on the tail of the leader.

Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "In the race we really have to keep our nose clean and stay out of trouble. That is going to be the key. We don't want to lose touch with the leaders and be split by the safety car. If we can stay out of trouble in those ways then I know we can be upfront at the end. I think it is fantastic what they have done here at Belle Isle. The Detroit Grand Prix was one of the biggest grand prix for a long time. This was one of those races you wanted to come be a part of. I think they have returned that and made it even better. Everyone in Detroit has done an outstanding job to make this world class."

Peter Dumbreck, Driver: "I think that it is going to be a close GT2 race. Qualifying is one thing but the race tends to level the playing field a little bit. In five laps or so we are going to have the prototypes starting to overtake us. It is going to make a difficult race to concentrate on what you are doing and not worrying if there is a prototype diving down your inside. It is what we have and you can say that with some degree of certainty there is going to be contact between faster and slower cars. But, it is up to Dirk and I to run our own race and, hopefully, we can benefit from some good luck this time. As for the track, there are a few places where the surface changes and that upsets the balance of the car but I think once we get into the race tomorrow there will be more and more rubber down and things should become more stable. So, I think it really is a case of being in it at the end. OK, we have third on the grid but we are within a shout of pushing for the victory."

Dirk Muller, Driver: "Detroit is a very challenging street circuit where you really need to have the 100 percent confidence to squeeze the car. I was quite happy with the lap time and with the performance but for sure I am not happy that there were two guys going quicker. >From my point of view it's good that these are Ferraris but for sure I want to be the one in front."

-credit: pm/wl

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Series ALMS
Drivers Dirk Müller , Peter Dumbreck , Michael Petersen