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Marino Franchitti Joins Scott Tucker and his Team

Author: Jesse Schwarck  //  Category: Auto News

A while back, Scott Tucker-owned Level 5 Motorsports announced the addition of Marino Franchitti to its driver lineup before this weekend’s Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta. Franchitti will join Tucker and fellow driver Luis Diaz in driving the No. 55 Microsoft Office-sponsored entry for the enduro, a 1,000-mile/10-hour race.

Franchitti is the latest addition to Tucker’s superteam of motorsports competitors, which was established through the Level 5 Motorsports team’s 3 years of existence. Franchitti will be especially handy in driving the brand new Level 5 entry, a LMP2-class Honda Performance Development prototype developed in conjunction with Wirth Research. Prior to joining Level 5, Franchitti had raced essentially every iteration of HPD prototypes, such as the original ARX-01a with Andretti Green Racing in 2007 and Highcroft’s 2010 ALMS championship winner ARX-01c as well as its ARX-01e, which took 2nd place overall at the 12 Hours of Sebring a few months ago. Franchitti this year will be seeking his 3rd straight Petit Le Mans class victory.

The elite Level 5 team started out when Tucker got into the world of professional motorsports in 2006 when he was 44. What he was missing in experience he made up for in natural talent, quickly climbing the motorsports rankings. Initially, he joined up with Christophe Bouchut, an endurance racing expert, who acted as his coach and co-driver. Bouchut is probably the best endurance drivers globally and a past winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. He has also won 3 Porsche Carrera Cup France championships, 3 FIA GT titles and an FFSA GT championship. He is the only triple FIA GT champion in history. Since Level 5 Motorsports team began in 2008, Bouchut has co-driven with Tucker and been integral in the team’s success. With his wealth of experience and skill in controlled speed, Bouchut’s role as lead driver has allowed Tucker to develop his own skills, increasing the depth of the Level 5 racing team. Within the 2010 season, Bouchut earned his 100th career victory.

Joao Barbosa, another Level 5 Motorsports standout started his racing career in his native Porto, Portugal nearly Three decades ago. He won back-to-back kart championships in 1988-1989 and went on to win the Portuguese Formula Ford championship in 1994 and the Italian Formula Alfa Boxter Championship in 1995. In 2001, he joined the Grand-Am Sports Car Series and competed in the GT class until he joined the Brumos Racing team in a Daytona prototype in 2006. After four seasons there, he joined Action Express Racing and won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2010. In 2010, he also made seven starts in the ALMS for Extreme Speed Motorsports in the GT2 class.

Luis Diaz, the 3rd part to this weekend’s Petit Le Mans bid, comes from Mexico City, Mexico. He ran in the Toyota Atlantic and Indy Lights Series from 1999-2003 prior to the move to Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2004 when he co-drove the No. 1 car with former Champ Car competitor Scott Pruett for Chip Ganassi Racing. In 2007, he moved into the ALMS, driving an LMP2 Lola B06/43-Acura for Fernandez Racing. The pairing finished sixth in the LMP2 standings that year and won the class championship in 2009. Diaz made his Level 5 debut this year at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, an excellent start to the season, and his LMP2 experience will be very helpful at Petit Le Mans with the new car.

Ryan Hunter-Reay has been off the grid for a lot of this year’s season as Tucker and crew have been centered on the ALMS and LMP2 class, but he has been an important reason for the Level 5 team’s overall success. He will be a regular in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport, where he nabbed his second win at Iowa Speedway not too long ago. Hunter-Reay helped the No. 95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley to a third-place finish in the 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

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