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Mike Petersen Breaks Into Top-20 as American Readies for Final Stage of Central Europe Rally
Petersen Motorsports 12th in Penultimate Stage Six
VESZPREM, Hungary, April 25, 2008 – The strong performance predicted after Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev., USA) jumped from 67th to 24th overall yesterday in the Central Europe Rally proved itself in today’s penultimate stage. At the conclusion of today’s two Specials, the American made another significant jump breaking the overall top-20 for the first time since the start of the second stage. For the day, the No. 217 Petersen Motorsports/MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/BF Goodrich Chevrolet finished 12th in the car class, just 18 minutes and two seconds behind the stage winning factory Volkswagen of Carlos Sainz (Spain). With one remaining stage to be held tomorrow, Petersen and co-driver Matthew Stevenson (Ipswich, England) sit 20th overall, three hours, eight minutes and four seconds behind the event-leading Sainz and 18 minutes out of 19th place.
Today’s 12th-place finish made three straight stages that Petersen piloted the two-wheel drive buggy into the top-15. Stages Two and Three were the most harmful to the team’s efforts as teething problems of the T1.3 class buggy hampered the effort of the Wide Open Dakar-entered ride. Stage Six was a repeat of Wednesday’s Stage Five following the same 97.5 miles/157 km first Special and 33.5 mile/54 km second Special. The route and terrain of the Stage, especially the first Special, ideally suited the buggy and its BF Goodrich tires. The second session, very tight and technical, was more challenging but Petersen again proved quick.
The team now looks to tomorrow’s final stage of the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) sanctioned event. The participants will leave Veszprem, Hungary on Saturday morning, travel across 122.4 miles/197 km of the Hungarian country side before closing the rally in Lake Balaton. Unlike the recent stages, Stage Seven will open directly into the single, 96.3 mile/155 km Special. The Special is the longest single timed portion of the rally. A short Connection of 6.8 mile/11 km will bring the competitors the finish-line on the inaugural running of the seven day, Central Europe Rally. The final leg should prove to be another good one for the two-time American Le Mans Series GT2 championship-winning team owner. Much of the Special is fast, like the first Special of the last two stages. Some technical sections, which have proven the most difficult for the new buggy, will challenge Petersen. Recent rains will add to the test as the course will be sloppy. The combination of technical and muddy has proven a weak point for the buggy making its debut in this event.
The Dakar Rally Series is making its premiere with the Central Europe Rally, a precursor to the 2009 Dakar Rally. While the Dakar Rally has traditionally been held in Africa, due to political and safety concerns, the 2009 edition will travel through Argentina and Chile, January 3-19, 2009. Petersen Motorsports will enter the 2009 running with the same buggy and team that the American operation is competing with in the Central Europe Rally. As a rookie in the 2007 Dakar, Petersen earned an impressive finish of 23rd overall, fifth in the two-wheel drive class. He drove to a high stage finish of eighth-place in the final leg of the rally.
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