Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing chases IMSA Cup from sixth on Petit grid. BRASELTON, Ga., October 17, 2003 - With an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT class victory at the Road America 500, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning...
Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing chases IMSA Cup from sixth on Petit grid.
BRASELTON, Ga., October 17, 2003 - With an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT class victory at the Road America 500, Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing finds itself in a heated points battle going into tomorrow's Petit Le Mans. The No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/MMPIE/PAWS/XtraJet/Justice Brothers/Michelin Porsche GT3 RS, which qualified sixth in today's wet time trials, has been one of the few programs to regularly challenge the official Porsche factory team of Alex Job Racing (AJR). In fact, the Las Vegas-based team- which teamed with AJR to win the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans- is the first team in the class to beat AJR since the middle of 2002. In a reduced schedule of only five races, versus eight of their competitors, the Michael Petersen-owned and White Lightning Racing-prepared Porsche has finished in the top-five in each event. Drivers Johnny Mowlem, of Warfield, England, and Craig Stanton, of Long Beach, Calif., will again pair at Road Atlanta tomorrow to fight for the GT class IMSA Cup- a season-long award given to the highest finishing, non-factory team. Mowlem and Stanton are also challenging for third in the driver pairing points championship. The 10 hour or 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans, the season-closing event for the ALMS, will decide the final points standings. Petersen/White Lightning's nearest competitor for both the IMSA Cup and the driver standings is the Risi Competizione Ferrari of Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro. Going into the endurance event on the 2.54 mile facility, the red, white and yellow No. 31 will need to finish two positions in front of the red Ferrari to take the IMSA Cup as well as third in the team driver standings.
A rain shower minutes before today's GT/GTS class qualifying forced the Petersen/White Lightning team to run rain tires at the beginning of the session. In wet conditions, Mowlem, who qualified the car, quickly placed second in the running order. The track continued to dry over the 20-minute session with several cars switching to intermediate tires- a tire that takes characteristics of both a slick tire and a rain tire- towards the end of the session. However, the No. 31 had no intermediate tires available to them. Therefore, Mowlem continued to run rain tires waiting for the track to dry.
"I was very pleased that we set such a fast time in the rain," said Mowlem about qualifying. "However, we had no intermediates available to us and I got the call too late in the session to switch to dry tires. I was actually quite surprised that our time on the rain tires, which I set in fairly wet conditions, held-up for sixth. It is a very long race and the Petersen/White Lightning boys have given Craig and me a tremendous car for the race."