After several solid hours of action that saw Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports reach as high as P5 in the 80th anniversary running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team was forced to retire its No.33 Level HPD ARX-03b after developing fuel pressure issues shortly after sunrise.
The team was aiming to follow its podium finish in last year’s running of the world-famous race that takes place every June in the Sarthe region of France. But, the car was retired in the 18th hour of the race following a successful two weeks of practice and qualifying by the ALMS Championship-winning team.
“What can you say?" Tucker said. “Everyone has worked so hard and this isn’t the way that any of us would like to remember the race this year. This is the hardest test of man and machine I know of and, no matter how well prepared you are, how much experience you have or have around you, Le Mans can bite you when you least expect it. We leave here now definitely viewing it as an unfinished job, and we’ll have to return in twelve months for another go at winning.”
A radio malfunction was compounded by the low, rising sun which caused communication issues for Tucker who was unable to even see the pit board being held out on the pit straight. At that stage of the day, drivers are heading directly into the sun and, bearing in mind the low-slung seating position in an LMP2 racing car, there is little that can be done to overcome this fact of nature.
“That is part of the challenge at Le Mans,” Tucker said. “It is just one more reason that this is such a tough race to win. This team worked so hard to prepare and the car was performing great up until that problem.”
The outcome was all the more disapointing as both Luis Diaz and Christophe Bouchut had been running extremely strongly throughout the night. Diaz, making his debut at Le Mans, carried out a solid triple stint in the dead of night. Bouchut, at 19 starts, was the most experienced driver in the field.
“We are obviously very disappointed with the finish,” Diaz said. “But I can’t even begin to tell you what a great experience this was for me. It has been my dream to race at Le Mnas and I have to thank Scott for this opportunity.”
The trio of Tucker, Bouchut and Diaz currently sit atop the standings in the American Le Mans Series LMP2 class. They return to action in that series for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, Saturday, July 7. The race will be televised on ESPN 2 at 4 p.m. EDT.