In a wild race run Saturday afternoon through the streets of downtown Baltimore, Level 5 Motorsports celebrated the best day in the team’s history of American Le Mans Series competition, finishing first and second overall and in LMP2 at the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge. After two hours of racing around the 2.04-mile temporary street circuit, it was the HPD ARX-03b of Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker carrying a 2.158-second margin to the checkers ahead of teammates Luis Diaz and Ricardo Gonzalez.
Level 5 was quick to capitalize on various misfortunes that struck all three LMP1 contenders, including the pole-qualifying Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr. Starting driver Graf was pulling away from the field – and had built a lead of almost a full lap after 45 minutes of racing – when the gearbox actuator failed, resulting in a long pit stop for repairs.
With a replacement actuator installed, the Muscle Milk team resumed the contest more than six laps down to the leaders. But the team persevered to a third-place finish to protect its LMP1 championship lead with two races remaining in the 2012 American Le Mans Series.
Level 5 took command of the LMP2 contest when Conquest Racing’s David Heinemeier Hannson was penalized for contact with the LMP1 Lola of Dyson Racing. Spins, suspension failure and a pit lane penalty further delayed both Dyson entries.
That turned the overall lead over to the #95 Level 5 HPD of Diaz, with teammate Bouchut in the #055 ARX-03b taking over at the front in the final half-hour. It was the first overall American Le Mans Series triumph for both Bouchut and Tucker. The pair also extended its championship lead over the Conquest duo or Heinemeier Hansson and Martin Plowman, who suffered race-ending suspension failure with less than 20 minutes remaining.
Baltimore marked the first 1-2 overall finish for LMP2 machines in the American Le Mans Series competition since 2008, when the Acura ARX-01bs of Andretti Green Racing, Patron Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports finished 1-2-3 at the Grand Prix of Detroit.
With just two races remaining in the 10-race 2012 season, HPD and its partner teams and drivers continue to lead their respective driver, team and manufacturer championships. The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron resumes Sept. 15 with a four-hour run at Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Va.
Scott Tucker (#055 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b) led a 1-2 overall finish for Level 5 Motorsports, also won the Michelin Green X Challenge for fast, clean and efficient performance: \"The guys from Conquest have a really strong effort. David [Heinemeier Hansson] was able to pass me going into Turn 5. We anticipated this, so we planned if it happened, [to] take no chances and just be really steady with the car. This is great for the team, a great day. Finishing first and second overall, and winning the Green X Challenge, with Christophe [Bouchut] qualifying on the pole: we’ll be putting this in a bottle and saving it!”
Marc Sours (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on Saturday’s race in Baltimore: “Congratulations to Scott Tucker and the entire Level 5 Motorsports organization. It’s a great achievement for LMP2 cars to finish first and second overall, for the first time since 2008, when HPD scored a 1-2-3 result with our Acura LMP2 cars. It is also a giant step forward in Level 5’s quest for the championship this year. Level 5 also won the Michelin Green X Challenge for the second time this year, and the fifth Green X award for an HPD team this year. It’s unfortunate that Muscle Milk Pickett Racing encountered its problem with the gearbox actuator, but the team carried on in the best spirit of endurance racing, and it continues to lead the LMP1 standings. The 2012 season is building to an exciting finish, and all of us at HPD are looking forward to the final two road-course events at Virginia International Raceway and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.”