Its central aim will be to not only secure its fourth consecutive P2 victory, but also to consolidate its position in the championship points’ battles. Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut currently lead the P2 Drivers’ Championship by eight points over David Hennemeier Hansson and Martin Plowman while Level 5 has a 15-point clear hold on the teams’ title chase.
The scenic 1.51 mile (2.48km), 10-turn track sits on the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in the Northwest corner of Connecticut and close to the borders of both New York State and Massachusetts. Lime Rock Park is one of the oldest and continuously operated road racing courses in the country. Since it opened in 1957, it has played host to nearly every great road racing driver, car and series, establishing a rich tradition as The Road Racing Center of the East.
The small nature of the track means it will provide a tight fit for the 31 cars on the entry list, and one of the key challenges for Level 5’s two HPD ARX-03b entries will be to qualify well as track position is vital for a good result. Level 5 has only competed at Lime Rock once before (2010) as last year their primary program was the ILMC and the team was racing in Italy at the time of the ALMS event. As in previous ALMS rounds, the No. 95 entry will be led by Scott Tucker (Kansas City, KS) and Luis Diaz (Mexico City, Mexico), with Tucker doubling up in the No. 055 with Christophe Bouchut (Voiron, France).
Five-time national driving champion Tucker is looking forward to the challenge offered by the unique circuit.
“I’d say Lime Rock is not a difficult track but it’s completely different to any other we race at,” he said. “It’s very small, slow and physical, and you get no rest because there’s so much traffic and the main strait is only 500 metres; a lap will take barely a minute. The competition in the P2 class continues to climb, and we’ll all have to be on the top of our game here, both in the car and in the pits with regard to strategy and pit work. On track we’ll have to be careful to avoid too much contact as there’s little room for error around this track – competitors can easily find themselves speared off into the greenery after what seems like just a small brush. It will be so competitive that you can’t afford to make any mistakes at all.”
Team Manager David Stone recognizes that the team must profit from every minute of track time available.
“We have two practice sessions amounting to 2.5 hours and then it’s straight into qualifying so we’ve got to get our set up nailed early on,” said Stone. “The weather is usually very hot and humid here, and that often brings sudden rainstorms so that’s yet another factor to be aware of and take into account. Lots of wet grass around the pavement can be like racing on an extended ice rink – you can skate off for miles.
“Since Le Mans, which is firmly behind us now, we’ve completely re-prepped the cars for Lime Rock,” he continued. “The track sees quite low top speeds because of its size, but you need maximum downforce for grip and to enable you to get good exit speed in the last corner. It’s predominantly right turns with one left plus the two chicanes: the chicane curbs are important for a quick lap time. Turn 1 will still be the biggest passing opportunity, and the hill leading down onto the front straight will still be important to get a good run.
“Strategy can be tricky here as caution laps are only about 100 seconds so you have to be decisive and, sometimes, brave on tire choice – stops aren’t all necessarily full service if you want to stay in the lead.”
Source: Level 5 Motorsports