Christophe Bouchut press release
30 seasons in the rear-view mirror, 2 titles in the sights
For his thirty years of motorsport, Christophe Bouchut shares a double aim with his team, Level 5 Motorsports: to win the LM P2 title in both the American Le Mans Series and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. He will aim for victory during the five meetings, on three continents, which make up the rest of his 2011 season.
Road America is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful road circuits in America, with some really crazy corners.
Christophe Bouchut has brought his top speed and his immense experience to Level 5 Motorsports since 2009. This team, created by American Scott Tucker, and managed by David Stone, is full of ambition, and is climbing the endurance pyramid step by step. After claiming the Formula Le Mans title, in parallel to taking part in the Grand Am series in the United States, it moved up to the LM P2 category for 2011. Adding a European base to its main offices in the USA, the team has given itself the best possible situation in order to shine on both sides of the Atlantic. The seven rounds of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the basis of the future FIA Endurance World Championship, is on its programme, as well as part of the American Le Mans Series calendar. It was a case of ‘two birds with one stone’ in Sebring, in March, a situation which will reoccur in early October with the Petit Le Mans, as these events count for both championships.
A look in the rear-view mirror
Making its debut in LM P2 this year, Level 5 Motorsports has already added a podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to its career record, followed by another one in the 6 Hours of Imola. Many would be content with this, considering the level of the teams entered. But Christophe has mixed feelings about his 18th participation in the world’s greatest endurance race, and his trip to Emilie-Romagna. "At Le Mans, we were entered with the coupé version of the Lola-HPD, which is restricted by the regulations. Therefore, we could not hope to win in terms of pure performance, so we entered the Spyder version in Imola. We were leading when the gear-box blocked, leaving me with only the third and fourth gears. It was, quite frankly, far from ideal on the long straight, as well as in the hairpins. We had to fight to save a place on the podium, which could have easily slipped away from us at the end, as the car classified in 4th position finished just ten seconds behind me."
Favourite and outsider
The end of Christophe’s season could be quite thrilling in terms of... Titles. Level 5 Motorsports in still in contention in both the ILMC and the ALMS. "There are not many LM P2 cars in the American Le Mans Series, but there is still a title to aim for, and we are currently leading the classification. That is why the Lola Spyder, which had been brought to Europe for Imola, has gone back to the USA for the Road America event at Elkhart Lake. It will be more complicated in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. We are second, 20 points behind the leaders, with 15 points for a win and three races to go. The mechanical failure at Spa has cost us dearly. We have to win, but also we need our rivals to have some bad luck or other problems."
If you don’t go forwards, you go backwards…
The technical challenge also looks interesting, with two new prototypes arriving in the team’s workshop. "The team has decided to acquire two HPD ARX-01g, with chassis and engine both 100% Honda Performance Development. The aim is to have a successful end to the season and to prepare for 2012. We know that Wirth Research is the technology leader in terms of simulations. With Scott Tucker and Joao Barbosa, we will be able to spend three days in the simulator at Bicester, just like the F1 drivers, before Silverstone."
32 hours of racing
This is far from being Christophe’s first trip round the world since he started his career in motorsport. The exciting trip he will face over the next three months brings back some good memories. "Road America is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful road circuits in America, with some really crazy corners. I really like this part of Wisconsin, near Chicago. At Silverstone, I think we will have an amazing race with the battle of the giants between the major manufacturers. Laguna Seca is Monterey, San Francisco, California… Beautiful! We will then head to Georgia for the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the longest race in this part of the season. And finally I will be very happy to return to Zhuhai. The circuit is close to Macau and Hong Kong, with a long straight but some winding, narrow sections. I still hold the lap record in GT at this track (1’30’’661 - ed), which was in 2005 with the Aston Martin DBR9. I also won there in the FIA GT Championship with the Lamborghini Murcielago, during the opening round of the Championship in 2007."
Christophe Bouchut and Level 5 Motorsports around the world…
20th August ALMS Road America (USA Elkhart Lake) 4 hours
11th September ILMC Silverstone (Great Britain) 6 Hours
17th September ALMS Monterey (USA Laguna Seca) 6 hours
1st October ILMC ALMS Petit Le Mans (USA Road Atlanta) 1000 miles / 10 hours
12th November ILMC Zhuhai (China) 6 hours