Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has announced that it has decided to give up its entry into the 75th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The team, winners of the GT2 class in 2003 and 2004, had been given a single entry into the annual endurance classic this season for would have been the team's first Le Mans with its new Ferrari 430, but a series of events in the early part of the season have led the team to shelf its plans to fight for a third Le Mans title to instead focus on its American Le Mans Series campaign.
Since being named on the official list of accepted entries for the race back in February, the Petersen/White Lightning team has had two cars seriously damaged in the first two GT2 races of the season. The first, the #32 Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Ferrari F430 GT suffered substantial fire damage at Sebring last month and remains in Italy undergoing repairs by Michelotto Automobili, while the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT was extensively damaged in Tomas Enge's high speed accident during the Grand Prix of St.Petersburg – leaving the team racing against time to build a new car to compete in Long Beach this weekend.
With the added problems the team has encountered so far this season, the decision was taken to withdraw the entry to Le Mans, with team manager Dale White admitting that it was one of the hardest things he had ever had to do.
“I can't express our disappointment that we will not have the honour of competing in the diamond anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” he said. “Mike Petersen and I became concerned that the level of commitment to do a proper Le Mans programme would draw too much away from our American Le Mans Series effort. Since our programme here in the States is our first focus, we were not willing to risk it or willing to go to Le Mans with anything but the highest commitment to win.
“Sending the news to the ACO was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done in racing. The ACO was very generous in their invitation and, prior to recent events, we had every intention of returning to Le Mans and going for our third victory there, our first with the Ferrari. However, we will have to wait until next year.”
The PWL Ferrari becomes the second car to withdraw its entry from this seasons race, with the Rollcentre Radical – granted an entry despite the team returning to LMP1 with a Pescarolo – now in the hands of Embassy Racing who have already stated that they didn't plan to race at Le Mans in 2007.