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Level 5 Motorsports Gears up for Spa

Level 5 Motorsports will be in action this weekend at the 1,000km of Spa. Photo by Level 5 Motorsports It’s been a busy, but successful month of racing for Scott Tucker and his Level 5 Motorsports team. Just two weeks after a productive test day at Le Mans and hot off a stunning victory in last weekend’s Ferrari Challenge race at Infineon Raceway comes the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Saturday’s six-hour race, billed as the 1000km of Spa, marks the fourth event in as many weeks for Level 5. Yet, with two LMP2 class victories already under their belt this year, the David Stone-led organization heads to Belgium well prepared for the task at hand.

While Level 5’s core group traveled to Infineon Raceway last weekend, where Tucker claimed a debut victory for the new Ferrari 458 Challenge car, the rest of the crew remained in Europe following the Le Mans Test Day to prepare the No. 33 Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored Lola-Honda Coupe for the upcoming stretch of races.

With nearly 1,000 miles clocked last month at Le Mans, the team gained its first real understanding of the brand-new cars. All of that knowledge will now be put to the test this weekend, where Tucker and co-drivers Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa go for victory in the ultra-competitive LMP2 division.

“It’s a big weekend for us,” Tucker said. “With wins at Sebring and Long Beach, it’s been a great start to the season. We’d obviously like to continue that but realize we’re up against a full grid here. We’re anxious to see where our package stands right now.”

Level 5 faces its toughest competition yet, as the combined European-based Le Mans Series and Intercontinental Le Mans Cup race has attracted a dozen entries from around the world. Many of which are also using this race as a warm-up for next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“The competition is increasing,” Barbosa said. “At Sebring, we didn’t have a whole lot of competition, but there’s a lot of good teams with good cars over here in Europe. We need to have our game on this weekend and focus 100 percent and do everything right. Hopefully we’ll have the speed to fight with all of those guys.”

After struggling for straight-line speed in the ILMC season-opener at Sebring, Level 5 and all other Honda-powered entries recently received a 1.2 mm larger air restrictor. While it proved to produce a marginal increase in speed at the Le Mans Test, it’s unknown where the car will stack up this weekend in terms of power.

“Of course Spa is a full race inside our ILMC championship, but it’s also a good preparation for Le Mans,” said Bouchut, a two-time winner of the Spa 24 Hours. “The larger restrictor we received before Long Beach didn’t necessarily bring what the ACO may have expected. It’s a bit of a shame to be at a disadvantage, but we’ll see what happens this weekend.”

While Bouchut and Barbosa are no strangers to the historic 21-turn, 4.352-mile circuit, Tucker, will be tackling Spa-Francorchamps for the first time. To help the three-time national driving champion get quickly up to speed, he’s been enlisted to also compete in this weekend’s SPEED EuroSeries race.

Tucker will be at the wheel of a Ligier JS51, a purpose-built open-top prototype, run by veteran Swiss outfit Horag Racing. He’ll run in both Friday’s 90-minute enduro and Saturday’s 60-minute sprint race prior to the 1000km of Spa later that day.

“I’m excited for this new opportunity,” Tucker said. “As I’ve learned, experience is the most valuable asset to success in racing, so it’s very good to be able to add this program to my schedule. While it will be a new challenge for me, I’m confident we’ll get quickly up to speed.”

But once the checkered flag falls on his first two races of the weekend, Tucker’s entire focus will turn to helping continue Level 5’s win streak in Le Mans prototype competition.

Qualifying is scheduled for Friday at 4:20 pm CET (10:20 am ET), with the 1000km of Spa set to get underway Saturday at 2:05 pm CET (8:05 am ET). Radio Le Mans (www.radiolemans.com) will provide live radio coverage throughout the weekend.

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