Level 5 Motorsports Qualifies Second in ILMC at Imola
The stage has been set at the famed Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit, with Level 5 Motorsports having recorded one of its best qualifying performances of the year. Christophe Bouchut put the No. 33 Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored Lola-Honda Spyder in the third row for Sunday’s Six Hours of Imola, the fourth round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Fresh off its debut podium finish in last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Scott Tucker-owned organization unloaded in Northern Italy with a new weapon of choice. With recent rules changes favoring newer cost-capped LMP2 cars over 2010-specification prototypes such as Level 5’s Lola-Honda Coupe, the team opted to use its Lola-Honda Spyder for this weekend’s round.
The bold decision to ship its U.S.-based car to Europe has already paid off with a sixth place qualifying run on Saturday. Bouchut turned a best lap time of 1:38.959 in the 20-minute prototype session, a remarkable feat considering it was nearly a 1.5-second improvement over the team’s best time from the morning practice.
Sixth is not first, but we’re getting close to the leading cars.
“It was an exciting qualifying session,” Bouchut said. “Sixth is not first, but we’re getting close to the leading cars. We’ve definitely improved our performance. The time doesn’t exactly reflect what I was able to do with the car because I got traffic on my best lap. We’re very happy now heading into the race as we think our car can give us a chance to fight for the victory or at least a podium result.”
Bouchut, who along with fellow co-drivers Tucker and Joao Barbosa, have all gained valuable laps around the historic 17-turn, 3.050-mile circuit during the two days of track activity thus far. Tucker, a three-time national driving champion, has also been competing in the SPEED EuroSeries doubleheader this weekend, where he scored a podium finish in Saturday’s 90-minute endurance race. The second race of the weekend is scheduled for Sunday morning.
There’s no doubt a high level of optimism heading into tomorrow's six-hour endurance race, as Tucker, Bouchut and Barbosa look to make further gains in the ILMC LMP2 Championship. Level 5 currently sits second, only 18 points away from the leading Oreca-Nissan team.
“What we saw today was thanks to the hard work the team has been doing in switching to the Lola Spyder and also to Honda, which has brought us some improvements on the engine side as well,” said Team Manager David Stone. “We’re higher up on the grid than in previous races, which gives a boost to the entire team.
“When you come to any race, you’re really hoping for the best and that’s the attitude of Level 5, as we always want to win,” he added. “Sometimes that goal is a little bit more difficult to reach than you’d like it to be. We’ve excelled against some odds. Plus, the longer the races, the better we seem to do. Tomorrow, we just have to make no mistakes, have a good race car and hope for a little racing luck and see how we come out.”
BY: Level 5 Motorsports