Road Atlanta: Level 5 Motorsports race report

Tucker, Level 5 Motorsports Make History by Clinching Inaugural American Le Mans Series LMPC Championship BRASELTON, Ga. -- Scott Tucker and Microsoft Office Level 5 Motorsports capped a record-setting 2010 season Saturday night by winning the...

Tucker, Level 5 Motorsports Make History by Clinching Inaugural American Le Mans Series LMPC Championship

BRASELTON, Ga. -- Scott Tucker and Microsoft Office Level 5 Motorsports capped a record-setting 2010 season Saturday night by winning the 13th annual Petit Le Mans and wrapping up the inaugural American Le Mans Series LMP Challenge championship at Road Atlanta in dominant fashion.

Tucker, along with teammates Burt Frisselle and Marco Werner, drove the No. 95 Microsoft Office-sponsored ORECA FLM09 to victory in the season finale, with Tucker taking the checkered flag by an incredible 17-lap margin over the No. 89 driven by Kyle Marcelli.

"We have won a lot of big races, but to win this race and clinch the championship is just incredible," Tucker said. "It's difficult to put into words what this championship means to me and what it means to this Level 5 Motorsports team. So much time and so many resources have been put into this thing. And, to make history and win the first LMPC championship in the American Le Mans Series is an incredible feeling."

Tucker and the Level 5 Motorsports team have been stellar from the drop of the green flag at Sebring in March to the checkered flag at Road Atlanta Saturday night. Tucker never lost the lead in the standings all season. The victory at Road Atlanta was Tucker's fifth of the season.

He came into the Petit Le Mans tied with Gunnar Jeannette of Green Earth Team Gunnar, who is 20 years younger than Tucker. However, the No. 99 ORECA FLM09, driven by Jeannette, Christian Zugel and Elton Julian, did not respond well to the pressure applied by Level 5. During the early stages of the race, the team's No. 55 LMPC entry, driven by Christophe Bouchut, was closing quickly on Jeannette.

From there, the Green Earth Team seemed to have more misfortune as they encountered several more problems. They ultimately finished sixth in the LMPC class for the race, 67 laps behind Level 5 Motorsports.

"You have a lot of things to battle in endurance racing," Tucker said. "We've had our ups and downs throughout the year. But this team knows how to battle adversity."

Tucker logged almost five hours driving the Level 5 entries -- more than most of the drivers in the event. Along the way, he recorded fast laps and picked up positions on the field -- including an amazing stint where he lapped the third place car and secured the second position.

"We're just thrilled that we are standing on top of the heap after a long and successful season. I want to give a lot of credit to this whole team for all the hard work they put in all year long. They gave us great cars throughout the year and they can proud of the work they did."

The victory at Road Atlanta made a perfect bookend to this historic season as Level 5 closed out the season as it began when it won the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

"This team is very, very strong in endurance races. We showed what we were made of today," said Level 5 Motorsports Team Manager David Stone. "This is a long race and we knew we could make up the ground pretty easily. That's exactly what we did."

The victory is Werner's fourth in the Petit Le Mans. He also won the event in 2003, 2004 and 2008 and is a two-time ALMS champion himself.

"It's always great to win this event. But, it makes it even sweeter to help Scott clinch the LMPC championship," Werner said. "That's what we were here for. We got the job done. All of us are very excited and happy for Scott, and grateful to him for giving us this opportunity."

The No. 55 Microsoft Office Level 5 Motorsports ORECA FLM09, driven by Tucker, Bouchut and Mark Wilkins, wound up finishing fourth in the LMPC class Saturday night. During the race, the car suffered a brake failure and crashed resulting in more than an hour off track for repairs. But the Level 5 crew was able to get the No. 55 ORECA FLM09 back on track for an amazing finish with Bouchut behind the wheel -- taking the checkered flag along side the No. 95.

"I'm very excited for Scott and to be a part of this team," said Bouchut. "It's been a great year and one I am very proud of."

The 2010 season also saw Bouchut reach a major milestone in his storied career. The French driver chalked up win number 100 at Mid- Ohio Sports Car course earlier this season. Saturday's win gives Bouchut another team Championship, adding to his already impressive resume. including wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The Championship win was also special for the team's primary sponsor, Microsoft Office 2010. On board since the season-opening win in Sebring, the software company has been engaged with Level 5 behind the scenes helping the team to manage the incredible amount of data the team needs to analyze -- every lap of every race.

"Congratulations to the Level 5 team on winning the LMPC championship at the Petit Le Mans," said Chris Barry, Director in Microsoft Office. "We're proud of the partnership between Microsoft and Level 5 Motorsports and we look forward to continued collaboration moving forward".

For Tucker, the win comes on the heels of his SCCA Touring 1 Ferrari 430 National Championship, his second consecutive crown in that division, which he earned just last weekend. Along with the national championships, 2010 was also a record-breaker for Tucker and Level 5 who booked numerous track records in races and qualifying during the season.

"This was a season I will never forget," said Tucker. "Every podium is special. But to earn a National Championship -- let alone two in one season -- is truly remarkable."

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Series ALMS
Drivers Gunnar Jeannette , Marco Werner , Christophe Bouchut , Burt Frisselle , Mark Wilkins , Christian Zugel , Scott Tucker , Kyle Marcelli