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This is the single-news section of the news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Dakar 2007: Petersen/White Lightning breaks Top-20 overall.

The Chevrolet buggy of Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing completed yesterday´s 494 km special stage in six hours, 58 minutes and 12 seconds, good for 16th out of the 79 cars classified. Petersen, a Dakar rookie, trailed the overall stage winning No. 310 by one hour, 26 minutes and nine seconds.

Petersen’s notable performance in Stages Eight and Nine brought the team into the top-20 overall for the first time of the rally. Their previous best had been 21st after Stage Six. However, a lengthy repair and being stuck on course forced them as low as 34th after Stage Seven. Petersen/White Lightning is currently 13 minutes and five seconds behind the No. 331 Mitsubishi which runs in 19th-place entering Stage 10. Since they began on January 6, the No. 351 has spent 44 hours, 38 minutes and 58 seconds in the special stages.

Petersen, who has won over a dozen off-road events prior to moving to professional sports car racing, sits 10 hours, 56 minutes and 35 seconds behind the overall car class leader, the No. 302 of Dakar and rally expert Stephane Peterhansel. Petersen is currently the third highest ranking American in the rally behind the experienced Dakar pilots of Mark Miller (in sixth) and Robby Gordon (in eighth).

During a marathon stage, no one other than the driver and co-driver is allowed to perform repairs or maintenance on the car. Therefore, only Petersen and Stevenson prepared the Team SMG-built buggy last night in Tichit prior to yesterday´s 497 km total two stage day. The ninth of 15 stages was among the hardest faced by the pair, driving together for the first time. Not only was its special stage long, but, it was under the most barren of desert conditions. Few landmarks existed to help guide Stevenson’s navigation as Petersen controlled the car through the sand and gravel. Once clear of the special stage, it was a quick 3 km gravel road ride into the nightly bivouac in Néma.

Waiting for the weary driving duo in Néma were Entrant/Program Manager Dale White and team technicians Nico Castellaccio and Dennis Chizma. Because they could not bivouac with the No. 351 last night, the crew proceeded directly to the end of Stage Nine in Néma and waited doing minor maintenance on their chase vehicles and getting some long overdue rest. However, they will make up for that work tonight as they make any repairs necessary from the two stages and prepare the buggy for tomorrow morning’s Stage 10.

Petersen success in the last two stages bodes well for Stage 10. Due to concerns for participant safety, several stages, including Stage Ten, have been altered from the originally announced route. The stage, as it has been planned since just day’s prior to the rally start on January 6, is a large loop sending the teams into sand dunes with little but the fine sands of the Sahara Desert and gravel before them. The same conditions have been good venues for Petersen/White Lightning in the rally thus far, so hopes are high that Stage 10 will allow Petersen to gain even more on the competition. A 10 km connection will guide Petersen and Stevenson out to the 366 km special timed section. They will then return to the bivouac with a 24 km connection. In total, they will cover 400 km in tomorrow’s stage. Two control points will monitor their progress during the stage.

2007/01/16 | 11:35 CET | Editor: MR/Petersen

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