Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Level 5 Crowned ALMS Champions
Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports took center stage Sunday evening, as he and co-driver Christophe Bouchut were crowned 2011 LMP2 champions in American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Fresh off a thrilling victory in the 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, Tucker, Bouchut and the entire David Stone-led organization celebrated a successful end to the ALMS season at the series’ “Night of Champions” celebration at Château Élan.
It was no doubt a year of ups and downs for Level 5 as the reigning ALMS LMP Challenge champions made the bold move to the LMP2 category for 2011. Having kicked off the season with a debut class victory in the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Tucker and co-drivers Luis Diaz and IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay, the team triumphed on the streets of Long Beach, with Tucker and Bouchut taking top honors this time
Without the entire Level 5 team doing what they do, none of it would have been possible.
Those two class victories helped propel Level 5 into its global tour of Intercontinental Le Mans Cup races in Europe, highlighted by podiums at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans and Six Hours of Imola before returning Stateside to solidify its title in the American Le Mans Series.
Tucker, Bouchut and Diaz earned hard-fought top-five overall finishes in the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at Road America in August and a debut win with its new HPD ARX-01g in the ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón at Laguna Seca.
Once the competition returned in last weekend’s Petit Le Mans, which also served as the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, Level 5 showed to have the upper hand again, as Tucker, Bouchut and Joao Barbosa scored another LMP2 win while up against some of Europe’s top prototype entrants.
The 2011 season has no doubt been one to remember for Tucker, who earned back-to-back ALMS titles as well as picking up his third consecutive SCCA National Championship at Road America. Tucker, the now five-time national driving champion, collected his 64th career victory in Saturday’s 1,000-mile marathon at Road Atlanta.
“It’s a true honor to have earned my second American Le Mans Series championship,” Tucker said. “Christophe and I have been driving together for three years and I’ve learned so much form him. So to share it with him is something special. Without the entire Level 5 team doing what they do, none of it would have been possible. For me personally, it’s such a honor and privilege to be able to compete in the ALMS with so many great drivers and teams.”
For Bouchut, the championship came extra special as the veteran Frenchman celebrates his 30th year in motorsports. With over 100 career victories and 14 titles in his storied career, including being one of the few three-time FIA GT champions, Bouchut is honored to have added his first American title to his already impressive list of accolades.
“I’ve worked with Level 5 Motorsports for the last three years and it’s been a very good experience,” Bouchut said. “They’ve made all of the right choices at the right times. Of course there were not many cars in the ALMS LMP2 class this year, but our car was very competitive each time. Even at times when we were alone, I was still pushing very hard to do the best. That was the kind of show we wanted to give to everyone here. I’m really honored to share this title with Scott in my 30th year of racing.”
Combining for a perfect record of five wins out of five starts, Level 5 also notched up the ALMS LMP2 teams’ championship, as well as helping former partner Lola clinch the LMP2 chassis manufacturers’ title. Honda Performance Development, which partnered with Level 5 for the entire season, took home the class engine manufacturers’ championship, while technical partner Michelin collected the tire manufacturers’ title as well.
With the teams’ championship and dominant win in the Petit Le Mans, Level 5 heads into next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with two automatic invitations for the around-the-clock French endurance classic, should they elect to return.
“It’s been a year of unusual dynamics to say the least,” said team manager David Stone. “We’ve built no less than five cars this year, most of which we finished at the race track at either Sebring or Road Atlanta. But thanks to the hard work and dedication of the entire Level 5 crew, we’re able to come away with the kind of results we were looking for. Everyone has worked tirelessly over the entire year in both America and Europe and we’ll be heading into Zhuhai next month looking to cap off the year with another win.”
While the 2011 American Le Mans Series may have come to a close, there are still two more races on Level 5’s global tour this year. First up is the Ferrari World Finals in Mugello, Italy on Nov. 4-6, where Tucker will return to the home soil of the famed Italian marque with his Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored Ferrari 430 Challenge car to run for a World Championship. Tucker has raced at Mugello before with 3 wins.
One week later, Tucker, Bouchut and Barbosa and the entire Level 5 crew will be in China for the Six Hours of Zhuhai, the seventh and final round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup The endurance race in the Guangdong province of China is scheduled for Nov. 11-13, with radiolemans.com providing live audio commentary over the weekend.