Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Debuts Ferrari F430 GT at Sebring Sebring, Fla., March 10, 2007 -- Team owner Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) did the honors today as Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing debuted the team's...
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Debuts Ferrari F430 GT at Sebring
Sebring, Fla., March 10, 2007 -- Team owner Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) did the honors today as Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing debuted the team's new Ferrari F430 GT in North America with strong results. Petersen was the first to pull the car out of pit lane here at Sebring International Raceway and turned just under ten laps to premier the MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin No. 31. While the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winning team had performed the first shakedown run of the at Ferrari's private test facility, Fiorano, in February, today's nearly four hours of running at the 3.7-mile facility was the first serious test of the machine. Team principals were pleased with the first day of running. Official practice for the 55th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring does not start until Wednesday but the Dale White-managed team will have full test days on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the March 17th race.
Petersen, an accomplished driver who finished 23rd overall in the car class at the Euromilhues Dakar 2007 this year, handed-over the new Italian exotic to fulltime team drivers Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Tomas Enge (a native of the Czech Republic now living in Monaco). Bergmeister and Enge got to work on finding the setup for the car on this hot and sunny, Florida day- air temperatures hovered around 88 degrees Fahrenheit while track temperatures hit 104 according the Michelin engineer Brian Monprode. Each of the three drivers got a minimum of two stints behind the wheel. Reserve driver Memo Gidley (Novato, Calif.) will get his first laps in the mid-engine machine on Monday. Also appearing on the 12th will be the No. 32 sister-car of Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. The Steve Pruitt-owned EquiWest/Michelin F430 GT will be driven by Ferrari test drivers Maurizio Mediani (Reggio Emilia, Italy) and Rui Aguas (Porto, Portugal) and young, open wheel star Jose Maria Lopez (Cordoba, Argentina).
While not the prime objective, speeds in today's test were on par with the time the team set in qualifying in 2006. The 2005 and 2006 American Le Mans Series GT2 Driver Championship-winning team was most encouraged by the ease at which the speed came and how the Michelin tires performed over exceedingly long stints. In fact, despite the hot day, the team was able to double stint the tires - running them twice as long as they will likely be asked to in the race- without an appreciable loss in lap times.
Michael Petersen, Owner: "I was more nervous about that [testing the car first] than about racing at Dakar. The Ferrari is a really impressive machine. It drove great, just like you want it to. I didn't push the car or myself but you could pretty easily tell how quick the car is. Even after just the first day I think we have a very good car for the race."
Dale White, Entrant/Team Manager: "Everything went to plan. We didn't want to push the car too hard today. It was more important for us to get laps, to get data, which we can use for later in the week and into the race. We will think about what we discovered today, put it all together on Sunday and be back out with both cars on Monday. Sebring is a long week and a lot can happen. It is really easy to test yourself right out of contention here if you think you have to lay down as many laps as you can, as fast as you can. We are right on schedule and I am really pleased with the first day's results. Ferrari has been great to work with and the Michelin tires exceeded even our high expectations. We know we still have a lot of work to do but this was a pretty encouraging first day."
Tomas Enge, Driver, No. 31: "I think today was good. It was the first day for everybody to run with this car. I think we had pretty hard conditions because it is so hot and we ran through the whole day without any big issues. I think we are looking good so far but I don't want to be over-excited yet.
(Comparing the GT2 class Ferrari to the GT1 class car he drove in 2006): "You can feel immediately, right as you come out of the pits, the difference. It is the power. With this car you can brake even later than the GT1 car because you don't carry so much speed down the straight. The corner speed is similar it is just a difference with the power. Otherwise, this car is handling pretty well though fast corners and slow corners as well so there is not such a big difference between the GT1 car and this one."