Stage 11 Connects Ayoun-El-Atrous to Nema But No Times; Petersen Remains 21st Overall AYOUN-EL-ATROUS, Africa January 17, 2007 -- Political unrest in Africa led Foreign Ministers to recommend to the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), the ...
Stage 11 Connects Ayoun-El-Atrous to Nema But No Times; Petersen Remains 21st Overall
AYOUN-EL-ATROUS, Africa January 17, 2007 -- Political unrest in Africa led Foreign Ministers to recommend to the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), the sanctioning body for Dakar, that they change a number of routes that took them into northern Mali in this year's Euromilhões Dakar 2007. While yesterday's Stage 10 was redesigned to allow a timed special through the desert, today's Stage 11 forced the A.S.O. to declare a connection stage with no timed section to ready itself for tomorrow's Stage 12. Therefore, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, like all the remaining 112 entries in the car category, covered the 280 km/174 mile distance from Nema to Ayoun-El-Atrous at a controlled speed. Because no times were taken, there are no stage results and, therefore, no change in the overall standings. Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) and co-driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) remain 21st overall in the No. 351 MMPIE/PAWS/?.com/BF Goodrich Chevrolet T1.3 class buggy, 11 hours, 25 minutes and 47 seconds behind the overall event leader, Stephane Peterhansel.
The short connection gave all the team's what constituted a half rest day. It will also allow team technicians Nico Castellaccio (Tracy, Calif.) and Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas) additional opportunity this evening to make repairs and preparation to the Team SMG-built buggy prior to Thursday's Stage 12. Once the Ayoun-El-Atrous to Kayes Stage 12 begins, rest will be hard to find. The 484 km/300.74 mile distance takes the teams back into the desert where the gravel, sand and dune terrain of the 257 km/159.7 mile special stage will again remind the competitors why the Euromilhões Dakar 2007 is the world's most difficult motorsports race.
Now aimed back to the east, the team can feel the city of Dakar and the event's finish are close at hand. However, with 1161 km/1001.2 miles to go (758 km/470.94 of which is special timed stages from Stage 12 to Stage 15) the event is far from over. To this point, Petersen and Stevenson have accumulated 49 hours, one minute and six seconds in the special timed stages. It is Petersen/White Lightning's goal to make it to the finish line in Dakar, Senegal as high in the standings as possible. However, more importantly, the team wants to learn as much as it can from this year's endeavor to prepare for the second of a three year commitment the team has given to the Dakar.
Preparations for the Euromilhões Dakar 2008 have already begun. Entrant/Program Manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT., USA) followed the rest of the Dakar participants to Ayoun-El-Atrous today. White, who is driving the No. 671 Toyota Land Cruiser in support of the No. 351, has been assembling notes across the Dakar in order to return in 2008 fully prepared for the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winning team's first Euromilhões Dakar in-house program. White, as well as Castellaccio and Chizma, have put together information ranging from items that they want to bring in '08 to ideas of how to build the White Lightning Racing car which will carry Petersen next year.
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). 2007 marks the first of a three year Dakar program to complement their ongoing American Le Mans Series effort which will compete with drivers Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld, Germany) and Tomas Enge (Monaco) in a Ferrari F430 GT in 2007.