Kansas City, KS (PRWEB) November 26, 2012
As one racing season draws to a close, all eyes turn to the next. For Scott Tucker and his Level 5 Motorsports team, race season can't come soon enough as they return to the site of last year's season-opening win, Sebring International Raceway.
Tucker, now a nine-time national driving champion, joined Level 5 Motorsports teammates Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa to begin the season on the top step of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón P2 podium in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida in March.
The ALMS P2 class win for the No. 055 Alpina Watches-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b didn’t come without its challenges, as an accident in the Friday qualifying resulted in the David Stone-led team pulling an all-nighter to get its prototype ready for the season-opening race.
While it was Level 5’s No. 95 HPD of Tucker, Luis Diaz and Ryan Hunter-Reay that paced the opening stages of the race, an error by a GTC Porsche in the fourth hour knocked the IndyCar star out of the lead and ultimately brought an early end for the team’s second entry.
All hopes of a repeat P2 victory turned to the rebuilt No. 055 car, which started from the rear of the grid due to a tire change and the overnight rebuild. An impressive quadruple stint by Tucker, however, saw the defending P2 champion move up to second in the ALMS class before handing over to Bouchut and Barbosa to complete the driving duties.
Both drivers also enjoyed time out front, often ahead of the entire WEC LMP2 field. While Barbosa battled tooth-and-nail with the Starworks Motorsport prototype for the overall LMP2 lead, the focus was clearly on taking top ALMS honors, which Level 5 accomplished in convincing fashion. The No. 055 HPD of Tucker, Bouchut and Barbosa finished 21 laps clear of the competition in its class.
“It was a great effort by everybody,’ Tucker, from Johnson County, Kansas, said following the race. “To get a top-five finish overall and winning the ALMS class, and mixing it in the WEC battle was incredible. While there were a couple of different races going on at the same time, we focused on the ALMS prize. It was our third straight win at Sebring, which makes me real proud of the entire team’s achievement.”
With its fourth-place overall result, Level 5 was the highest-placed American Le Mans Series finisher. It was an even more impressive accomplishment considering the level of competition from the more powerful LMP1 category, which had 11 entries, including three factory Audis prototypes.
“We did a lot of work, especially the mechanics, who worked through the night to get our car ready,” Bouchut said. “The car ran very well, so we were very happy to win our class in the ALMS. That was the main target of that weekend.”
At the end of the day, it was mission accomplished for Level 5, which took an early lead in the P2 championship standings in Tucker’s bid to become a three-time American Le Mans Series class champion.