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Scott Tucker : Optimistic Season Approaching

Author: Shelly Newman  //  Category: Auto News

There are some things different for this year’s Mazda Laguna Seca race. For a lot of drivers, the weather has been uncharacteristically chilly through the entire week’s practice runs and system checks. For Level 5 Motorsports, the weather conditions is hardly noticeable-at least not when compared to new metal vessel they’ve been wheeling around at triple-digit speeds.

They recently partnered with Wirth Research to debut an HPD ARX-01g chassis at the American Le Mans Series race tomorrow. Last week, drivers Christophe Bouchut, Joao Barbosa and Luis Diaz, and team manager David Stone, visited the Wirth Research team to meet up with their new team member. However, giving it the once-over means nothing once behind the wheel.

Initial practice runs this week were promising; the drivers emerged off their seats optimistic. Team owner Scott Tucker had been a man of few words after his first practice run. “It’s good,” he explained. “We’re going through the normal systems checks. We’re just going through the motions.”

The motions must really be enough for Level 5, if this past year is any indication. The team won the 2010 American Le Mans Series championship, and Tucker won both 2010 Rookie of the Year and Champion Driver. Still, with a brand new car, it will be essential to find the team’s sweet spot in order to make the podium once more.

“Right now, it’s more about finding the balance,” said Luis Diaz after his practice run earlier this week. “If you have a good balanced car, you’ll have a good car in qualifying and race. We’re focusing on having a decent car, good balance front to rear, and then we’ll start to focus on having that ultimate lap.”

Although drivers are now being diplomatic in their answers, team manager David Stone offers a bit of insight. “Everybody left last night feeling pretty optimistic about the car,” he states. “The initial performance indicators were really good. This is really a test race for us getting ready for Petite le Monde.”

The team has been using a simulator in London in order to prepare for the brand new car’s debut. The automobile is so new that no spare parts have arrived yet, which makes this weekend’s race a risky one for Level 5. “We don’t have any spare parts, so we need to be really good with the car today,” Stone says. The team rushed the new car to the raceway in order to be ready for Petite le Monde next weekend, so it’s clear their eyes are to the horizon.

Changing cars is nothing new for the Level 5 team. Tucker, who began his career at age 44 in 2006, raced in two cars for his first season: the No. 55 Oreca FLM09 and the No. 95 Oreca FLM09. This season, the team entered the LMP2 class and changed cars again. Following a year of outstanding success, which included two podium finishes just four races into the season, the team made an announcement: it would finish the year with yet another car. They would pair their existing Honda motors with the Honda LMP2 chassis to complete out the race calendar.

True to his history, Tucker is prepared for and positive about the change. “We’ve seen gains with the engine all year and the good thing is that there’s still room for development,” he says. “The HPD engine and chassis combination has proven to be the best over the years. We feel very comfortable and confident in making this unprecedented and decisive move in the middle of the season.”

As the race commences tomorrow, the new car will weather it’s first true road test. The final results of tomorrow’s race will be a telling indicator of the weekend to come.

Scott Tucker, a five-time national driving champion Scott Tucker

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