Madison, Wisconsin (PRWEB) January 05, 2013
With pre-season testing underway this weekend for the 2013 Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series at Daytona International Speedway and the American Le Mans Series season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring just 70 days away, the new racing season is quickly approaching. For defending ALMS LMP2 Champion Scott Tucker, 2012 will be hard to top.
Tucker and his Level 5 Motorsports team, who have competed regularly in both the ALMS and Grand Am Series in recent years, anticipate the new year while still basking in the glory of their 2012 success.
The team’s No. 1 target entering the 2012 season was a third consecutive American Le Mans Series championship. When the final checkered flag waved, Tucker and team not only captured that title, but did so in dominant fashion.
Buoyed by eight P2 class victories in 10 races, including a stellar overall 1-2 finish at the Baltimore Grand Prix, Tucker and Level 5 teammate Christophe Bouchut delivered both P2 Drivers and Team Championship titles after a hard-fought battle with their closest challengers from Conquest Endurance.
“2012 is a year that we will cherish for a long, long time,” said Tucker, who collected his second championship trophy in the P2 class. “Level 5 Motorsports did what we set out to do in the American Le Mans Series, and we were fortunate to accomplish some really great things elsewhere, too, all against some of the toughest competition on the planet. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this team.”
Tucker, a Kansas native who entered the year as a five-time national driving champion, added four more titles — including a pair of Sports Car Club of America national championships — to his already-stellar resume, to bring his number of individual driving championships to nine. Level 5, meanwhile, notched its 10th overall team championship.
“It means a lot to everybody on Level 5, especially to Scott,” said Level 5 Team Manager David Stone. “That’s what we’ve all worked hard all year for, and everybody on this team has just done everything that it takes and always said yes and always soldiered through the good times and the tough times this year.”
Highlighting Level 5 Motorsports’ memorable run to 2012 ALMS glory were huge class victories in two of the world’s most famous endurance races — the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. And, for the second consecutive season, Level 5 was invited to participate in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing.
The team received an automatic invitation to the event thanks to its P2 class victory in the 2011 running of Petit Le Mans, where Tucker and teammates Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa scored an impressive sixth-place overall finish.
“Without question, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the biggest race on the biggest stage,” said Tucker, who made his third 24 Hours of Le Mans appearance in this year’s event, where he was joined in the No. 33 Honda Performance Development ARX-03b by Bouchut and teammate Luis Diaz. “To have had success there is great.”
Nowhere did Tucker achieve more notable success this season than the Sports Car Club of America’s National Championship Runoffs at Road America. After posting a qualifying lap that eclipsed a 56-year-old record for the quickest lap in an SCCA event at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, course, Tucker captured two championship events, including the ultra-competitive D Sports Racer class race.
Tucker’s 34-second victory in the 13-lap championship-deciding showdown followed his record-setting qualifying time of 1:58:997 that was the eighth-quickest lap ever recorded in any genre of racing at Road America, and the first sub-two minute lap ever recorded in an SCCA event at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn layout.
Making the feat all the more spectacular was that it came in Tucker’s first D Sports Racer outing at Road America, where he went up against some of the most technologically sophisticated machines in all of sports car racing.
“We knew that with this team, it would be possible to break the record,” said Level 5 Project Manager Ed Zabinski. “With the talent and experience that Scott has as a driver and the incredible team we have at the shop, there was no doubt that this was within our grasp.”
Tucker, who entered three classes at this year’s Runoffs, notched his first national championship of the week in the SCCA’s Super Touring Over class race. Starting from the pole, the veteran sports car driver and team owner took his No. 55 Hoosier Porsche 966 to a 37.843-second win.
But Tucker’s winning ways in 2012 didn’t stop with ALMS or the SCCA Runoffs. He was also crowned champion of the 2012 L2 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites series after tallying eight wins, and despite missing two of the season’s 14 events.
“It’s unfortunate that I missed those two races, but it just shows what a good team and great car we have,” said Tucker, who also won this year during his participation in the 2012 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge. “Being able to clinch in the last race is always nerve-racking, but we’re glad we did it. Winning any championship is hard. It’s so unpredictable, and it’s very impressive what the team did, so overall we’re really proud of it.”
In addition to its success on the track, Level 5 continued its tradition of attracting some of the most recognizable names in all of motorsports to drive its cars. Among the biggest names to take turns behind the wheel this season were brothers Dario and Marino Franchitti (co-drivers at Petit Le Mans) and IZOD IndyCar Series standouts Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud (Petit Le Mans testing). Both Dario Franchitti and Hunter-Reay are IndyCar champions, and Franchitti is a three-time winner of the famed Indianapolis 500.
Now, with the 2013 racing season on the horizon, the team has set a high benchmark to beat.