Dakar: Petersen/White Lightning stage 14 report

Euromilhões Dakar 2007 Penultimate Stage Brings Petersen/White Lightning Into Dakar Michael Petersen Holds Top-23 Overall Position with One Day Remaining in 4,300 Mile Trek DAKAR, Africa January 20, 2007 -- Petersen Motorsports/White ...

Euromilhões Dakar 2007 Penultimate Stage Brings Petersen/White Lightning Into Dakar

Michael Petersen Holds Top-23 Overall Position with One Day Remaining in 4,300 Mile Trek

DAKAR, Africa January 20, 2007 -- Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing entered the city of Dakar, Senegal today signaling the end of the penultimate stage of the Euromilhões Dakar 2007. Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) and co- driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) arrived in the ocean-side city 23rd in the overall standings after the final, long stage of the world's most daunting auto racing event. Stage 14 stretched across 576 km/358 miles of savannahs from Tambacounda to Dakar, in the last open-road section of the 29th running of the Dakar rally. The No. 351 MMPIE/PAWS/?.com/BF Goodrich Chevrolet T1.3 class buggy covered the 225 km/139.8 mile special timed section in three hours, 30 minutes and 16 seconds, 91st overall. As planned, Petersen cruised through today's stage in the beaten and bruised No. 351 with the overall goal to reach the finish line tomorrow afternoon.

While tomorrow's Stage 15 remains, today's special timed section is widely considered the last 'serious' leg of "The Dakar". At the end of Stage 14, which crossed gravel, sand and laterite, Petersen was one hour, nine minutes and 14 seconds behind stage- winner Carlos Sainz. With little to gain and much to lose in today's stage, the experienced off-road and sports car racer chose to take it easy on his equipment. It was a task made even more trying by the late start and oppressive dust that coated the Petersen/White Lightning entry as it entered Dakar. Because the dust made visibility almost zero, Petersen slowed his pace to ensure that it would be ready for the final stage on Sunday. Stéphane Peterhansel is the current overall leader after 15 days of the event. Peterhansel is 14 hours, 16 minutes and 25 seconds ahead of Petersen. Currently, Petersen/White Lightning is one of only 107 car entries that remain from a starting field of 177. Petersen is the third highest-ranking American and the fifth-highest ranked two-wheel drive vehicle in the car class.

The battle for a top-25 finishing position is among the most heated in the rally. After 6,813 km and 14 stages, Petersen/White Lightning is 45 minutes behind the 22nd position leaving little chance for advancement. However, the gap back to 24th is only four minutes while the drop to 25th is only 12 minutes away. A 27th place finish would result in a loss of only 20 minutes in the final timed stage. Regardless of the final overall result, any finish in the Euromilhões Dakar 2007 is a remarkable accomplishment. The feat becomes even more spectacular as a first time team and driver.

For Petersen/White Lightning, today's stage culminated at the home of the United States Ambassador to Senegal. The team relaxed and enjoyed the hospitality of Ambassador Janice Jacobs, a native of Virginia. Tonight, Petersen, Stevenson, program manager/entrant Dale White (Bozeman, MT) and team technicians Nico Castellaccio (Tracy, Calif.) and Dennis Chizma (Las Vegas) will also enjoy their first real shower and clean sheets since leaving Europe on January 7. It was a welcome addition to their daily routine after over two weeks of almost non-stop driving, repair and maintenance to the race buggy in the most deplorable and wearing conditions.

The culmination of the 6,906 km/4,291 mile Dakar rally comes tomorrow, January 21, here in the city of Dakar. Stage 15, the Lac Rose stage, is both ceremonial and serious. The 16 km/9.95 mile special timed stage allows little opportunity to make up time on those closest to you in the overall standings but it can harm the effort if something substantial goes wrong. Overall, the three-leg stage circles the Rose Lake totaling only 93 km/57.8 miles- shorter than most of the previous stage's liaisons. The first leg covers 36 km/22.4 miles while the final sprint to the finish line is a 41 km/25.5 mile celebration of perseverance.

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.

-credit: pm/wlr

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Carlos Sainz , Stéphane Peterhansel , Matthew Stevenson , Michael Petersen , Tim Bergmeister