TEAM NEWS: Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Ready for American Le Mans Series Short Track Action at Lime Rock
Photo by John Thawley Independence Day Holiday Visit to Northeast Spurred Past Championship Assaults
LAKEVILLE, Conn., July 2, 2007 - Every Saturday all across the United States short tracks put-on some of the best action in motorsports. This Saturday, July 7, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will take part in the American Le Mans Series' version of fender-to-fender, nose-to-tail, non-stop short track action at Lime Rock Park with the American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix. The tight confines and quick lap times of 1.54-mile, eight- turn Lime Rock course, the shortest on the Series schedule, have always been well suited to the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned team's attitude and provided it with some of the effort's best results. In 2006, after their previous car had been destroyed at Le Mans, the Dale White (Bozeman, MT.) managed organization was forced to build an entire car in the Lime Rock paddock. Unwilling to give-up under the pressure of the challenge, the team had a fairytale ending by winning the race in the GT2 class. When coupled with the first victory of 2007 for the No.31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT coming at the most recent race, the Utah Grand Prix, drivers Tomas Enge (a native of the Czech Republic now living in Monaco) and Darren Turner (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England) are hoping for the team's traditional Independence Day success this weekend.
In recent years, the Lime Rock event has become not only the start to the second half of the season- following the month-long break for the 24 Hours of Le Mans- but has become the jumping-off point for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing's championship assaults. The 2006 class win at Lime Rock was the first of three that led to the GT2 Driver and IMSA Cup titles finding their homes with the Nevada-based team last season. They finished second here in GT2 class in 2005 after winning the pole position. Two races later, in part from the momentum started at Lime Rock, the team began a four race win-streak on their way to the 2005 American Le Mans Series Driver, Team and IMSA Cup titles.
Saturday's race is not the only competition that Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will take part in at Lime Rock. The Klein Pit Crew Challenge will be held on Friday at 12:20 PM (ET). The team had been scheduled to participate during the Utah Grand Prix, however, IMSA officials allowed the Dennis Chizma-led team to delay their first round until Lime Rock Park due to the ongoing convalescing of driver Tomas Enge. White feared that doing several pit stops during the competition would inflame injuries that Enge sustained at St. Petersburg. This is the third season in which the Nevada-based team has been invited to participate in the exciting pit stop competition that places the spotlight on the crew. The team made it to the Finals in 2006.
Mike Petersen, Owner: "After what seems like an eternity the boys are looking forward to getting back to business. I have yet to attend the Lime Rock race as this year will be my first. I am really looking forward to it! We still have some time to gain in the points and or goal will be to push to the end. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going from Salt Lake as we finally had the results that we have been working so hard for. It was nice to have it happen in our fist year with Ferrari. The competition is great and we will be gunning for the top spot in GT2."
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "Lime Rock is pretty unique. It really is like a Saturday-night, short-track. Lap times are quick, the course is challenging, the fans really get into it and, from a strategy standpoint, you have a lot of things that can happen. There is no room for error on the track, in pit lane or in the paddock. You have to be on your game from the time you get off the airplane. I think that is why I like to race here. Lime Rock has been a good track for us. When you add that to the win in Utah, I hope we can continue to carry the momentum to Lime Rock and through the rest of the season."
Tomas Enge, Driver: "I had a quite busy month of June with the Le Mans test, Watkins Glen Grand-Am race, the Le Mans race and the Monza FIA GT race. Last weekend I had off so I am ready to return to the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Ferrari at Lime Rock. At Lime Rock I am pretty sure we can achieve the same results with Darren as we did in Salt Lake City."
Darren Turner, Driver: (About the track): "I wasn't sure about Lime Rock when I first got there last year, especially coming straight off the back of Le Mans, but the more laps I did the more comfortable I became. I got GT1 pole there in the Aston Martin last year, so I know I can slot it all together. It's a challenge for all drivers who've been at Le Mans, coming from the largest track most of us ever race at to the smallest, and Lime Rock is very tight, twisty and bumpy - very challenging."
(About passing and being passed): "When you are racing on large tracks like Le Mans, or Salt Lake, you get much more warning of cars coming up behind you as you can see them and plan ahead. On a short circuit like Lime Rock, it means fast prototypes will come upon you much quicker and you will probably find yourself thinking you have space and suddenly you don't. You have to spend a lot of time looking in your mirrors and drive intelligently."
(About the race): "I think Lime Rock will be a very eventful race because of the track's nature and its size. I did find last year that the more laps I did, the more I enjoyed it. I wouldn't say it's one of my favorites, but I like it. Obviously the success at Utah was fantastic. To turn up there and drive a new car, with a new team, and get a win straight off was a dream. Now we know what can be achieved, against some strong competition, and we will be going all out to do it again at Lime Rock."
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will take the green flag at 3:05 pm (ET) on Saturday, July 7. Television coverage will be provided by CBS Sports, July 8 at 1 pm (ET). The event can be heard live on the American Le Mans Series Radio Web, available through the American Le Mans Series web site from 3 - 6 PM (ET).