Successful ALMS Return for Level 5
Level 5 Motorsports headed into Saturday’s Time Warner Cable Road Race Classic eyeing an overall podium finish in the four-hour Road America enduro. While the they ended up a few positions shy from their ultimate goal, drivers Scott Tucker, Chrisophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz walked away with valuable championship points in Level 5’s quest to become back-to-back American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron champions.The team’s No. 055 Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored Lola-Honda Spyder rejoined the American Le Mans Series this weekend following an impressive streak of success in Intercontinental Le Mans Cup competition in Europe, where Tucker, Bouchut and Joao Barbosa scored a pair of podium finishes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) and Six Hours of Imola (Italy).With momentum on their side, the David Stone-led crew made the short journey from its Madison, Wis. headquarters to the classic four-mile Road America circuit for the sixth round of the ALMS season. Having unloaded with a lightning-fast LMP2 car out of the box, all three drivers, including three-time national driving champion Tucker, got quickly up to speed in practice and qualifying, with Bouchut putting the cost-capped prototype fifth on the overall grid.Tucker, who was tackling six races in four different series this weekend, drove an impressive opening double stint, moving into fourth position following a clever fuel-only stop during the first full-course caution. Handing over to pole-sitter Bouchut on Lap 28, the veteran Frenchman put in an equally impressive performance, including a solid recovery from a pit lane speed limiter issue, which resulted in a stop and go penalty.To make matters worse, two further cautions didn’t play into the team’s strategy, which put the No. 055 car one lap behind the two leading LMPC entries. However, a late charge by Diaz, who set the class’s quickest lap time of 1:58.956, elevated he and co-drivers Tucker and Bouchut to a respectable fifth place finish overall and maximum points in the LMP2 category.“We didn’t have too much pressure as there weren’t a lot of cars in our class,” Bouchut said. “But with Level 5 being based in Madison, so it was really important to do well. We had a small problem where we lost time with the pit speed limiter, so we lost a possible overall podium position. The car was running very well the entire weekend without any problems. But racing is racing. You never know what’s going to happen.” The class win for Tucker, Bouchut and Diaz continued the team’s undefeated record in American Le Mans Series competition this year, following victories at the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March and in April’s Grand Prix of Long Beach.For Tucker, the victory capped off an incredible weekend for the reigning ALMS LMPC champion, who was undoubtedly the busiest and most successful driver on track. Tucker not only impressed in the four-hour ALMS race but also competed in the IMSA Prototype Lites, IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama and SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am races on Saturday, earning podium finishes in all four and a win in the Trans-Am T2 class.Tucker’s triumph in Trans-Am marked his 55th career victory in international competition. He earned his 56th win less than 12 hours later, back on the top step of the Road America podium in the LMP2 class.“It was a busy weekend and a good opportunity to get some extra seat time at a track I love,” Tucker said. “We ran our GT3 Cup car, which is also legal in Trans-Am. So we ran that at 8 a.m. Then I also had an IMSA Lites race and a GT3 Cup race before this race. I’ve never done anything like that before. It was sort of an experiment but it all went pretty well today.”Diaz, who earned his 10th career ALMS victory, was equally pleased with the team effort put in on Saturday and is looking forward to the remainder of the season, where Level 5 plans to compete in two of the three remaining races.“To be honest, I'm very happy,” Diaz said. “My last race was Long Beach and coming back here with all of the developments of the car and engine, it was amazing to see how far Level 5 is progressing. I’m very pleased with the performance of the team. Scott did a great job in his first stint and then Christophe drove well through the traffic. I’m really happy to be part of this team and we’ll keep working hard and be there fighting for the overall podium at the end.”Team manager David Stone added: “It was a really good week at Road America. We would have liked to have done better overall, but because of the unique situation and the way yellows unfolded, it went to our disadvantage. But the end result is what we wanted and what we were looking for.“Scott and Christophe have their points. As far as I know, the championship is now locked up. There will be more teams coming, so we’re happy about that as we go to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans. We still have a lot of racing and a lot of work ahead of us.”The next American Le Mans Series race on tap for Level 5 Motorsports is the Modspace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 15-17, where the team plans to run their new HPD ARX-01g LMP2 cars. The six-hour enduro will be carried live on ESPN3.com and americanlemans.com for international viewers.