Following its most successful season to date, which included repeat victories at Sebring and Petit Le Mans (LEFT) as well as the American Le Mans Series P2 championship, Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports have confirmed a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for next year, following confirmation of its entry by race organizers, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.
Level 5 was one of only three teams from the ALMS to have been awarded an automatic invitation to the 90th anniversary of the world's greatest endurance race, scheduled for June 22-23, 2013. A total of 16 entries from around the world were announced this week, ahead of a general selection process in January, which will fill the remaining spaces in the 56-car starting field.
Next year's running will mark Level 5's third consecutive start at Le Mans, which has always stood out as one of the highlights each season. Tucker, a nine-time driving champion, joined Chistophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa on the LMP2 podium in the team's debut in 2011, and was the highest placed U.S. team and American driver in the race.
Tucker and Level 5 will be looking to rebound from an unfortunate early end to this year's attrition-filled race, which saw their Honda Performance Development ARX-03b retire with less than six hours remaining due to a fuel pressure issue. It came following an encouraging top-five run by the team owner and co-drivers Bouchut and Luis Diaz.
“We're honored to have been recognized by the American Le Mans Series and ACO for our past achievements and to again secure an entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Tucker. “Having finished third in 2011, we've been very eager to return to the podium, and hopefully the top step next year. We have a lot of work ahead of ourselves but plan to represent the ALMS and the U.S. in the best possible light on the world's stage.”
For the second consecutive year, Level 5 plans to take its proven HPD ARX-03b to France, a package which delivered an impressive eight P2 class wins out of 10 starts in the ALMS in 2012, including a 1-2 overall finish in the Baltimore Grand Prix last September. Level 5's recent Petit Le Mans win, its third consecutive in the 1,000-mile/10-hour race, marked the 50th victory for the HPD chassis in sports car competition.
“Level 5 has continued to have showcased the performance and presentation that comes with a world-class event like the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said team manager David Stone. “Having ticked off all of the major boxes in sports car racing in America, with wins at Sebring and Petit Le Mans, along with three straight ALMS championships, one of the only races that still alludes us is Le Mans.
“We realize the significance of this race and the level of preparation that's involved to achieve success and we plan to come back even stronger next year. The competition in LMP2 has increased, particularly in Europe, but we're up for the challenge and hope to proudly fly the American flag.”
An extensive testing schedule is planned for the Madison, Wis.-based organization, including a trip to the new Circuit of The Americas next month as well as traditional preseason testing at Sebring International Raceway early next year. Details on the team's compete 2013 program, including driver lineups, will be announced at a later date.