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Pole Position A Good Start For Tucker’s Level 5 Team At Petit

October 2011-Level 5 Motorsports entered this year’s Petit Le Mans with a list of things to prove: In its first year the in Le Mans Prototype (LMP) 2 class, they have to prove that they’re skilled enough drivers to compete with some of the world’s most elite. They also came to prove that their brand new car was a worthy investment and can keep up with the field-dominating Nissans and other prototypes. So far, the Scott Tucker-owned team hasn’t had any problems.

Tucker’s co-driver Luis Diaz secured the coveted pole position in a dramatic win over the No. 26 Signatech Oreca 03 Nissan driven by JK Vernay. Diaz overtook Vernay in qualifying just inches before the checkered flag. It’s nearly impossible to dream up a better starting position for the Level 5 team—the lead of the field; a brand new, top-of-the-line car; and the recent addition of Marino Franchitti, an experienced LMP2 driver, to the team. In qualifying, the car, an HPD ARX-01g has consistently proven faster than its counterparts since it left the factory two weeks ago.

“For me, qualifying was a matter of pushing myself hard,” Diaz says. “I brought a lot of speed around turn one, and the car handled very impressively.” The modified fuel injector in the new prototype allows for higher speeds, something that will undoubtedly benefit the team, especially in races as close as Diaz’s qualifying run. But still, speed is nothing if there isn’t an able driver to apply strategy.

As far as the driver skills go, Level 5 already made that statement with a year of incredible performances by Diaz, Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa. Tucker and Bouchut already had their drivers championship points locked in weeks ago, and Tucker’s entire team is strategically built to harbor the fastest, most experienced drivers. Christophe Bouchut is one of the most successful endurance racers in the world, and Franchitti has driven just about every iteration of the HPD ARX series, starting with the HPD ARX-01a. And if anyone’s proven anything, it’s Tucker, a rookie driver just five years ago who has now propelled himself into the top elite motorsports classes in the world.

Level 5 Motorsports is geared up for a weekend of success at Petit Le Mans. Having won their LMP class last year, they were slotted in LMP2 for 2011. With promising performances by the new car and stellar deliveries by the drivers, Level 5 has achieved a very positive position going into tomorrow’s 10-hour race.

“We’ve worked really hard to get ourselves to this point,” Tucker said. “With the new car and some driver shuffling, things were up in the air for a little while there. But this is the race we’ve been waiting for, so we have to get out there and race smart, race hard and just give it all we got.”

Petit Le Mans will run at Road Atlanta for the 14th time this year. It also marks Tucker’s debut as a professional sports racer; he made his professional debut at Petit Le Mans in 2006. The race is the effective championship competition for the American Le Mans Series, based on the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Series. Tucker will drive both of the Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-01g entries, with Diaz, Barbosa, Bouchut and Franchitti splitting the remaining racing time in half.

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