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Central Europe Rally Special-Newssection (1st round Dakar-Series 2008)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Central Europe Rally 2008, the first round of the new Dakar-Series. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Central Europe Rally: Petersen Motorsports teething problems in Stage 2.

Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, USA) fell from 14th to 72nd, car class, in the overall standings with the conclusion of today's Stage Two of the Central Europe Rally. Petersen and co-driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) opened the six day, 1,616 mile/2,600 km rally-raid through Hungary and Romania impressively with a 14th-place finish in the timed "Special" section yesterday.

However, the two struggled with teething problems on the new No. 217 Petersen Motorsports/MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/BF Goodrich Chevrolet in today's 181 miles/292 km stage. Mechanical issues and heavy rains led to a laundry list of issues that impacted their day and left them sitting in a heavily forested ravine in Romania for 14 minutes. When the two crossed the timing beacon at the end of the 94 miles/152 km, the Wide Open Dakar-entered buggy was 74th on the day, two hours and 39-minutes behind the category leader with five stages remaining.

The Central Europe Rally, the first event of the Dakar Rally Series sanctioned by the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), marked the debut of the T1.3 class (two wheel-drive, two-passenger, enclosed body) buggy. The Central Europe Rally became the premiere for the custom-built vehicle when January's Euromilhões Dakar 2008 was canceled for safety reasons. With little time to test, the much different conditions of this rally-raid have introduced elements not expected in the deserts of Africa for which the machine was designed. Unfortunately, the development issues have significantly hurt Petersen's goal of a Top-10 finish in the event.

The troubles for the American team began when heavy rains flooded the tight and twisty mountain course. In the cold, wet conditions the buggy had a number of mechanical issues including inoperative windshield wipers. Exasperating the problem for the veteran off-road racer and one-time Dakar Rally starter was a setup that was not right for the rocky terrain and quick switchbacks that the No. 217 faced. Combined, the issues led to an "off" where Petersen plummeted down a small, densely forested ravine. Unable to extricate themselves, Petersen and Stevenson waited 14 minutes for a tow. Once out, the duo made their way to the end of the timed portion falling behind the factory-backed leaders. At the conclusion of the second Special of the day, the buggy- festooned in the colors so familiar to sports car racers around the world- traveled the 18.6 miles/30 km of the third leg of the stage.

Overnight, between Stage Two and Stage Three, the No. 217 crew will have to overcome not only the damage caused in the incident but, more importantly, the mechanical issues that plagued the team today. It will be critical to give Petersen a car that he can drive in Stage Three because the timed portion is the exact route run in Stage Two, only reversed! Organizers are planning to prepare the roads again overnight.

2008/04/21 | 11:49 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Petersen

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