Dakar: Petersen/White Lightning announce 2008 program

Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Announces 2008 Dakar Program Michael Petersen to Drive American-Made, Purpose-Built Buggy in Effort's Second Year ENSENADA, Mexico, May 31, 2007 - Team owner and driver Michael Petersen (Las Vegas,...

Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Announces 2008 Dakar Program
Michael Petersen to Drive American-Made, Purpose-Built Buggy in Effort's Second Year

ENSENADA, Mexico, May 31, 2007 - Team owner and driver Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) announced his team's program for the Euromilhões Dakar 2008 today. For the team's second assault on the world's most difficult motorsports event Petersen will wheel a buggy purpose-built and designed in the United States for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. The lead entry in a possible three-car effort will be driven by Petersen and Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) in the January 5-20, 2008 Rally-Raid through Africa. The two drivers combined in the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winning team's first foray at Dakar earlier this year with an impressive finish of 23rd overall, fifth in the two-wheel drive class. Today's announcement and unveiling of the 2008 T1.3 class buggy came as Dakar sanctioning body officials Etienne Lavigne (Dakar Director) and Fred Lequien (Motorsport Director for Dakar) of the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) joined in Ensenada, Mexico with the event's United States and Mexico representatives to outline the 2008 Dakar course.

Petersen's vehicle of choice differs in several ways from the buggy that he drove in 2007. It will blend the best of the American off-road trucks that the team raced to Baja 500 and Baja 1000 overall victories from 1995-'97 and the Dakar buggies like Petersen drove in January. As in the team's premier, the 2008 machine will be two-wheel drive unlike the majority of the competitors which rely on four-wheel drive. In the 2007 edition of Dakar, Petersen drove to a high stage finish of eighth-place in the final leg of the 6,906 km/4,291 mile journey from Lisbon, Portugal to Dakar, Senegal.

Since announcing the program last year, Petersen and longtime partner, entrant and team manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT., USA) envisioned a vehicle of their own design. For the years that the two competed in the North American off-road scene, they had always competed with trucks built in White's White Lightning Racing shop. For 2008, White and Petersen oversaw and directed the design and construction of the new chassis by off-road legend Bill Savage. Currently, two chassis are being built with the first nearly completed and the second close-behind. Both vehicles, and a potential third, are being constructed at longtime Dakar and desert racer Darren Skilton's (Lake Wood, Calif., USA) Baja Automotive Adventures facility in Long Beach, Calif. These buggies are purpose-built with the experience garnered over the course of decades of racing in off-road and at Dakar by Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, Baja Automotive and Savage.

The first buggy will begin an intense testing regime in late-June. Petersen, White and Skilton will do the development work in the deserts of Nevada and Mexico. With the knowledge gained at last year's Dakar, the trio will seek-out testing venues that most closely resemble the conditions of the route they will take across Southern Europe and Western Africa early next year. Petersen and Stevenson are the only two drivers currently confirmed for the Euromilhões Dakar 2008. Additional entries are possible.

The opening of entries for the 30th Edition of the Euromilhões Dakar was May 15th; all entries must be submitted by June 22nd. The event itself will leave Lisbon on January 5th, 2008, reaching the Atlantic Ocean in Dakar on January 20th. The event's only rest day is scheduled for January 13th.

Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has won nearly all the world's major motorsports endurance classics including the 24 Hours of Le Mans ('03 & '04), the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 overall ('95-'97), the 24 Hours At Daytona ('01), the 12 Hours of Sebring ('05) and the Petit Le Mans ('05 & '06). They have won over 50 off-road events and the American Le Mans Series GT2 Class Driver and IMSA Cup Championships ('05 and '06) and Team Championship ('05) on the shoulders of 10 American Le Mans Series class victories. To this point in the 2007 American Le Mans Series season, the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT has two pole positions and one GT2 class victory.


Michael Petersen, Owner/Driver: "Soon we will begin the rigorous testing of the new Dakar buggy for the up-and-coming race in 2008. The new car is taking shape as I speak. The first runs are scheduled to begin at the end of June which should give us plenty of test time with Dale, Darren and myself using the first car quite a bit until the second is done. This car is all done in California. To give her a good working out to help weed out all of the bugs the testing will be in Mexico and Nevada. We may even try to enter into a rally before the Dakar race as we will see how the timing goes with everything. I am excited to be back with my co-driver, Matt Stevenson, from last year as we were a good match. I look forward to better our finish from last year. The first year was quite an adventure as I am sure that the 2008 course will be much more difficult. We will all be up for the challenge that will surely come our way."

-credit: www.PetersenMotorsports.com

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Matthew Stevenson , Michael Petersen , Darren Skilton