American Mike Petersen Open Central Europe Rally in Top Form Petersen Motorsports Breaks Top-15 in First Stage "Special" in Romania BAIA MARE, Romania - Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) made a fine showing for his American-based program...
American Mike Petersen Open Central Europe Rally in Top Form
Petersen Motorsports Breaks Top-15 in First Stage "Special" in Romania
BAIA MARE, Romania - Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) made a fine showing for his American-based program during Stage 1 of the Central Europe Rally today. Petersen and co-driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) placed the No. 217 Petersen Motorsports/MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/BF Goodrich Chevrolet 14th of 79 entries for the Car class at the conclusion of the 330 mile/531 km opening leg of the marathon rally. Petersen's time for the 39 mile/63 km "Special" timed portion of the stage was 44 minutes, 34 seconds. The time was just four minutes and 38 seconds behind the overall category- leading No. 201 factory-entered Volkswagen. Petersen, who has one Dakar Rally start to his credit, is one of only three Americans attempting to run the "replacement" rally-raid for the canceled Euromilhoes Dakar 2008.
This opening stage of the seven stage event- which runs through Hungary and Romania- was the second longest that the teams will face. In addition to the Special, Petersen and Stevenson covered 36 mile/58 km to reach the timed portion and another grueling 255 miles/410 km to get to Baia Mare, Romania for the nightly bivouac in the Carpathian Mountains. The Special itself came on the sandy, "undulating" plains of Hungary.
By the end of Monday's Stage Two, Petersen may think he has deja' vu as the 181 miles/292 km stage loops the same terrain twice. The Special covers 94 miles/152 km through narrow mountain passes. Awaiting the Wide Open Dakar-entered buggy will be snow on the tight, winding mountain roads that present a severe contrast to the opening stages topography. Exaggerating the challenge will be the ever-worsening conditions brought-on by all the racers that previously rallied through during the first loop of the Stage. It was in this area that the snow had been so deep during pre-event preparations that officials of the Dakar Rally Series, sanctioned by the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), had to plow just to continue.
The Dakar Rally Series is making its premiere with the Central Europe Rally, a precursor to the 2009 Dakar Rally. While the Dakar Rally has traditionally been held in Africa, due to political and safety concerns, the 2009 edition will travel through Argentina and Chile, January 3-19, 2009. Petersen Motorsports will enter the 2009 running with the same buggy and team that the American operation is competing with in the Central Europe Rally.
As a rookie in the 2007 Dakar, Petersen earned an impressive finish of 23rd overall, fifth in the two-wheel drive class. He drove to a high stage finish of eighth- place in the final leg of the rally.