With recently revised drive-time regulations having prevented Level 5 Motorsports from racing its second HPD ARX-03b for the last two rounds of the ALMS, the team is delighted to announce it has signed up Ricardo Gonzalez to pilot the No. 95 car.
The Mexican, who is a reigning ALMS PC Champion, will be filling in for team regular Luis Diaz this weekend and will share the wheel with team owner Scott Tucker who, as in earlier rounds in the season, will be driving both the Nos. 055 and 95 entries. Gonzalez, a two-time ALMS race winner, is currently competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Greaves Motorsport in a LMP2-class Zytek Z11SN Nissan.
He said of the opportunity to drive with Level 5 Motorsport: “I'm very excited and thankful to Scott Tucker and Level 5 for giving me this opportunity. Even though we've had a great year in the WEC, I've definitely missed the ALMS and what better way to come back than with one of the top teams out there. This will be a great experience not only because it will be the first time that I’ll drive a P2 car in the ALMS, but also it will be my first time behind the wheel of an HPD chassis.
Gonzalez continued: “Obviously it's never easy to come in and try to fill in for somebody like Luis Diaz, we are close friends and I know that, with his advice, I'll be able to get up to speed quickly with this chassis and help the team develop the setup right away.”
Drivers within the ALMS and other sports car racing series around the world are graded according to their experience and level of success, and the regulations for different classes allow different grading combinations to race with each other to allow true and fair competition. In Level 5 Motorsport’s case Scott Tucker was previously the only Silver-rated driver in Level 5’s line-up. As such he was required to complete a one-hour minimum drive time in each HPD ARX in order for both HPDs to be classified in a typical two hour 45 minute race.
With at least two hours of cumulative driving time for Tucker, and a maximum drive time of two hours and 30 minutes being enforced, it left the team with too narrow a window for the requirements to be met without risking disqualification. The regulations state that a Silver-rated driver has to be in the car for one hour so Gonzalez, also of Silver status, can fulfil the No. 95 car’s minimum drive time requirement for either a Bronze or Silver-rated driver, leaving Tucker to log his required one-hour drive time in the No. 055 entry, which he shares with Christophe Bouchut.
Scott Tucker explains further: “I can do an hour in the 055 car and Ricardo can do an hour in the 95 and that satisfies the regs. I can then get in the No. 95 car and wouldn't have to worry about the one hour minimum rule so we can make the whole driver change work in the time windows and not risk getting disqualified."
The re-addition of the second Level 5 Motorsports P2 entry raises the level of competition within the class, and the team is looking to re-establish itself on the top step of the victory podium. With rain forecast for the Mid-Ohio race, every bit of the drivers’ experience and skill may be called upon to reach the top step but Tucker and Bouchut have been driving superlatively in recent rounds.
Mid-Ohio is the sixth race in the ALMS and the final two hour 45 minute race of the season. Diaz is expected to return to the No. 95 car after Mid-Ohio but, with three longer races in the second half of the ALMS schedule, there is a possibility that Ricardo Gonzalez may compete with the team later in the year.
Source: Level 5 Motorsports