Oct 212011

Successful Debut for Scott Tucker, Level 5’s New HPD

Marino Franchitti to Join Scott Tucker, Level 5 at Petit Le Mans

Successful Debut for Scott Tucker, Level 5’s New HPD

Planetlemans is based in The Netherlands and is produced by a team of editors and photographers and linked to a series of media/editor partners around the world. The team is focused on Endurance and GT racing covering all major championships around the world.The Le Mans 24 Hours, all rounds of the “Le Mans” labelled endurance series around the world as well as the varous FIA GT championships are featured prominently in our news coverage.

Planetlemans was born in 2002, approximately at the same time that the legendary Maison Blanche site was discontinued by Rick Wilson. The site quickly became one of the most popular Le Mans-related websites thanks to thorough and frequent coverage of the Endurance world. Daily news updates, high quality pictures, frontpage access to the popular ten-tenths forum and from-the-track reports compose the qualitative difference which Planetlemans is known for.

On the main page of the site you’ll find the site’s most recent entry at the top followed by two main ‘columns’ beneath. The left hand column displays recent blog entries: these are short, reflective and informative pieces of writing updated twice weekly. The right hand column displays recent ‘featured articles’: these are more in-depth pieces that cover a wide array of performance-related topics and are published once every week.

After the opening rounds at Sebring and Le Castellet a stunning 60 cars are on the provisional entry list for the 1000 KM of Spa-Francorchamps. 18 LMP1, 12 LMP2, 14 LM GTE Pro, 11 LM GTE Am and 5 FLM cars are set to race in round two of the Le Mans Series and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup on Saturday May 7th

Scott Tucker Headlines and more are found at the internet’s largest sports car racing news source Planet Le Mans!

Oct 052011

Level 5 Motorsports ended the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrn season on the top step of the podium, as drivers Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa scored a dominant victory in the 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.

Driving the team’s Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored HPD ARX-01g, Tucker, Bouchut and Barbosa stuck to their plan of bringing the new LMP2 car home in one piece. It ended with an impressive sixth place finish overall and class victory after a flawless run in the 1,000-mile marathon.

“The competition was real tough today and we knew this was going to be a real big battle for us,” said Tucker. “We still have a lot of work to do on the car but we did a great job with it. Joao and Christophe drove a great race. We didn’t miss a beat. With the car being just three weeks old and having gone through a six-hour race and now a 1,000-mile race as well with no problems, we’re real fortunate with that.”

Having started from third position on the grid, four-time national driving champion Tucker put the No. 33 car in an early lead, battling with the Signatech ORECA Nissan throughout his solid opening double-stint. The two teams, locked in the fight for the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, enjoyed a spirited fight until the Nissan struck mechanical problems in the fifth hour.

With Bouchut and Barbosa putting in consistent stints, most importantly staying out of trouble around the treacherous 2.54-mile Road Atlanta road course, the final four and a half hours proved to be clear sailing for the Level 5 team, which took the class victory by a hefty eight lap margin.

“The cars performed well and I’m happy for the entire team on this big win,” said team manager David Stone. “It was unfortunate the Signatech Nissan had a problem with their power steering. Everyone would have enjoyed seeing how the fight would have gone until the end. But we all have those issues once in a while. If we didn’t lose a turbo in our No. 055 car, we may have had two cars on the podium tonight.

The next stop on Level 5 Motorsports’ world tour is the Six Hours of Zhuhai, the seventh and final round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup season. The endurance race in the Guangdong province of China that will close out the exciting sportscar championship is scheduled for November 11-13, with radiolemans.com providing live audio commentary over the weekend.

Read more at Scott Tucker Racing

Oct 012011

A very busy Scott Tucker, slated to compete in a total of six different races this week, got off to a strong start with a win in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship on Thursday. The win was Tucker’s third straight in the Lites 2 class.

Tucker will be taking stints in both the No. 33 and the No. 055 Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored HPD ARX-01g racecars on Saturday for Petit Le Mans – the famed 1,000-mile or 10-hour endurance race that marks the conclusion of the American Le Mans Series season.

He will also be tackling five support series races: the Cooper Tire Prototype Lites double-header, two rounds of the IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama series and Friday’s SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am event with Level 5’s Ferrari 458 Challenge car. This makes Tucker the busiest driver in the paddock.

While he will have to juggle a packed schedule each day, the ultimate focus will be on delivering success on Saturday as Level 5 seeks to solidify its runner-up position in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LMP2 championship standings.

Level 5, which is searching for back-to-back Petit Le Mans victories after their LMPC win at Road Atlanta last year, has already locked up this year’s ALMS LMP2 drivers and teams titles to go with their 2010 accolades in LMPC, which included the inaugural drivers championship and Rookie-of-the-Year honors for Tucker.

Qualifying for the 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. ET on Friday, September 30 and will be available in the U.S. on ESPN3 or outside the U.S. on americanlemans.com. The 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance race is set for Saturday, Oct. 1. The race will air on ABC at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 2. Live coverage will be available in the U.S. on ESPN3 or outside the U.S. on americanlemans.com beginning at 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Read more at Scott Tucker Racing. This article, Scott Tucker Wins Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship Race has free reprint rights.

Sep 302011

Scott Tucker thinks nothing of racing for 24 hours. In fact, turning laps at the racetrack is a breeze compared to the countless miles he racks up traveling the globe in search of the next race.

Tucker’s 2011 schedule makes him one of the busiest drivers in all of racing. For Level 5 – which is based in Madison, Wis. – the schedule includes events in five different racing series scattered across seven countries around the world. And, he takes to the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, this weekend.

“We have a full plate, that is for sure,” Tucker said. “But, we have a very talented and dedicated team. We race to win every time out and we are not going to shy away from the hard work it takes to get there.”

Tucker has accumulated plenty of seat time as he sought and found success in racing. In 2011, the Level 5 team competed in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, the American Le Mans Series, the Ferrari Challenge Series, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge.

Maintaining such a schedule certainly keeps Tucker and his team on the go. In June and July alone, Level 5 competed in races in France, Italy, Canada and the United States. There is also a November trip to China for the 6 Hours of Zhuhai.

This year’s world tour began at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, where Level 5 scored top honors in the American Le Mans Series season-opener. After a trip to the streets of Long Beach, California, the team crossed the Atlantic to take part in the official one-day test at Le Mans. Two weeks later, Level 5 was back in Europe competing in the second round of the ILMC at the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

Tucker does not limit his racing to any one series. At the Road Race Showcase at Road America in Wisconsin, he drove in six races in four different series. In addition to the four-hour ALMS race, Tucker competed in the IMSA Prototype Lites, the IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama and the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am races, earning four podium finishes and a victory in the Trans-Am T2 class.

“It’s a tireless effort for Scott. But, that shows his dedication to this race team and his desire to win,” Level 5 Motorsports Team Manager David Stone said. “Whether it’s testing, racing in the ALMS, the ILMC or the Ferrari Challenge Series, Scott has proven that he’s up to the task. And, it is not just about showing up. The team is always prepared to perform at a high level.”

Keep up with the news at Scott Tucker Racing

Sep 252011

Madison, Wis. – With a successful debut of its new HPD last weekend, Level 5 Motorsports has tabbed prototype veteran Marino Franchitti as the team’s fifth and final driver for its upcoming two-car attack at the 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.

Franchitti, along with three-time national driving champion Scott Tucker and 2009 American Le Mans Series LMP2 champion Luis Diaz, will drive Level 5’s No. 055 Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored HPD ARX-01g in the 1,000-mile/10-hour marathon at Road Atlanta, which serves as the season-ending round for the American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrn.

“I’m very excited to be joining Level 5 Motorsports for Petit Le Mans,” Franchitti said. “Having driven every iteration of the HPD up until this new model, I can’t wait to get in the new ARX-01g next week. Level 5 is no doubt a top team that’s putting all of the resources they need behind this program. It’s very good to be coming back in with a top ride in one of the biggest endurance races of the year.”

The 33-year-old Scot, brother of three-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, has driven a wide variety of prototypes. In 2007, Franchitti was a part of the initial year of development of the ARX-01a with Andretti Green Racing before moving onto a two-year stint with Dyson Racing, also in LMP2.

Franchitti once again returned to drive the Honda-powered prototypes in 2010 with Highcroft Racing as the third driver for its ARX-01c effort in the American Le Mans Series and 24 Hours of Le Mans, earning the overall pole position at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and wins at Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans. His efforts helped propel Highcroft to drivers’ and teams’ championship.

Most recently, Franchitti earned a runner-up result in this year’s Twelve Hours of Sebring with Highcroft’s HPD ARX-01e LMP1 car. He also played a crucial role in the development of HPD’s 2.8-liter twin turbo V6 engine, which powers Level 5’s new LMP2 cars.

“A car is a car and guys like Scott [Tucker], Christophe [Bouchut] and Joao [Barbosa] are good to drive it to the maximum that it’s capable of,” Franchitti said. “But especially me, having driven every iteration of it now, and Luis as well with being involved, it certainly helps with bringing experience.

“It’s also great working with [engineer] Rick Mayer, who I worked with before and [engineer] Jeff Braun. There’s a lot of people that I’ve worked with before that are on the team. To me, it seems like the ultimate situation. I’m really excited to get back out there and into the American Le Mans Series and back into a prototype.”

Franchitti is searching for his third consecutive Petit Le Mans LMP2 victory. He will have his first opportunity to sample the HPD ARX-01g early next week during a two-day test at Road Atlanta. Level 5 anticipates having its second car, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup-designated No. 33 HPD for Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa, also on track.

The 2011 American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrn season concludes on Oct. 1 with the 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. The race will air on ABC at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 2. Live coverage will be available in the U.S. on ESPN3 or outside the U.S. on americanlemans.com. Rogers Sportnet One in Canada and MotorsTV in Europe will also provide coverage. Ticket and schedule information is available on the ALMS schedule page.

Read more about Scott Tucker and Marino Franchitti and visit Scott Tucker Racing.. Also published at Scott Tucker and Marino Franchitti Team Up at Petit Le Mans.

Sep 242011

Scott Tucker scored yet another national title Friday at Road America, as the Level 5 Motorsports owner/driver took home the gold medal in a thrilling down-to-the-wire duel to claim his third consecutive SCCA National Championship.

In one of his best drives in his young six-year racing career, Tucker used the strength of his Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored Porsche 996 Twin-Turbo to fend off a hard-charging Dodge Viper of David Pintaric lap after lap around the famed 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course.

A crash by two fellow STO class competitors put the field under a full-course caution for over 20 minutes and set up a final six-lap sprint to the finish, with pole-sitter Tucker in prime position for the win. While Pintatic managed to get up alongside the 500-plus horsepower Porsche on two occasions, Tucker failed to relinquish the lead over the entire 12-lap, 40-minute timed race.

Showing the experience of a two-time defending champion, Tucker managed to bridge out a narrow gap on the Viper to take a 0.728-second victory at the checkered flag. It brought an end to an exciting battle that wasn’t decided until the final corner on the final lap.

“It was a great race,” Tucker said. “David [Pintatic] had pressure on me everywhere. There wasn’t a lap to let up. I was very impressed with his driving. He pushed me to the limit. It was a good fight for a six-lap sprint race.”

Tucker not only reached the impressive milestone of claiming his 60th career victory but also notched his third consecutive SCCA National Championship and first in the STO category. Even more impressive, it came in his race debut of the specially prepared Porsche 996 Twin-Turbo.

“Winning my third consecutive National Championship is an incredible achievement and accomplishment and something I’m extremely proud of,” Tucker added. “It’s something we worked incredibly hard for. I’ve been running in the Runoffs since 2006 and none of these championships have been easy to win. I’m just very proud of the entire Level 5 team.”

Built and developed in conjunction with the Jeff Stone-led Kelly Moss Motorsports, both Level 5 and Kelly Moss worked tirelessly preparing the unique four-wheel-drive Porsche for its debut in one of America’s most prestigious racing events. The hard work paid off in a big way, as Tucker becomes one of the select few to have claimed a hat trick of wins in the Runoffs.

“Scott was real focused on going out and driving his hardest but not making a single mistake, and that’s what he did today,” said Level 5 team manager David Stone. “Unfortunately there were two yellows in the race, so that shortened the race time. It would have been fun to go for it for a clean race. But Scott did a really good job and everyone at Level 5 and Kelly Moss put in a great effort.

“There was a lot of time that went into the car, and it was a pretty trick car,” Stone added. “With all of the research, sourcing and bringing a lot of things together, it was a big project. But I’m glad we were able to bring home the win.”

Tucker and the Level 5 crew now head to Road Atlanta this weekend in preparation for 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, which will see both of their new HPD ARX-01g LMP2 cars in action for the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance race that closes out the American Le Mans Series season.

Next up for Level 5 and Tucker is the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. The race will air on ABC at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 2. Live coverage will be available in the U.S. on ESPN3 or outside the U.S. on americanlemans.com.

Read more about Scott Tucker Racing

Sep 242011

The best sports car racers on the globe strive to fine great teams with great cars. For the chosen, those great rides are found with Level 5 Motorsports. Founded by American racer Scott Tucker, Level 5 has quickly made an impact on the international race scene thanks in part due to the deep pool of international talent that the team has attracted.

Marino Franchitti is the most recent addition and will be joining the team in Atlanta for Petit Le Mans is the latest in a string of impressive moves Tucker and Level 5 have made to secure their place at the pinnacle of American sports car racing.

Frenchman Christophe Bouchut, who recently collected his 100th race win, is a key factor in the rise of Level 5. His vast international experience has helped the team on the world stage and continues to impress as the team mounts a global challenge.

Adding to the roster of Francophones, the aggressive racer has frequently been joined by his countrymen. Formula 1 veteran Sebastien Bourdais partnered with the squad in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and was joined by another endurance racing star of French descent in the form of Emmanuel Collard in the same event.

Drivers with factory experience have been attracted to Level 5, one of the world’s most successful privateer teams. Drivers Sacha Maassen and Lucas Luhr have both donned the Level 5 gear in some of the most prestigious endurance events. And England has not been left out of the Level 5 line up, with Richard Westbrooke bringing his extensive European touring and GT credentials to the team as part of the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona podium-winning effort.

For the 2011 season, 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Joao Barbosa, brings his Portuguese background to the mix, while Canada has been ably represented by Mark Wilkins in Level 5’s LMPC efforts. Mexico, a country with a long tradition of motorsports passion, also has a Level 5 connection in the form of Mexico’s Luis Diaz.

The roster of international talent also includes United States drivers. Starting with Missouri native Tucker and fellow American Ed Zabinski, there has been an American influence on the driving line up from the very start of the team.

And the drivers that the David Stone-led team attracts don’t all come from European road racing. Both Raphael Matos and Ryan Hunter-Reay strapped into the Level 5 prototype machines fresh from competition in the IndyCar ranks, with Hunter-Reay also part of the Rolex 24 At Daytona podium run that kicked off a championship season for Scott Tucker and Level 5.

It seems that for a team that has quickly grown from focusing on North American-based Ferrari Challenge competition to now competing at the highest level internationally, it makes perfect sense to have drivers that have that same global background. And with the trophy collection rapidly requiring more storage space, it is a strategy that is clearly working.

Read more at Scott Tucker Racing. Unique version for reprint here: Scott Tucker and Racing’s Best Take to the World Stage.

Sep 242011

The international sports car racing scene has been enjoying a bit a resurgence with the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. With the announcement that the FIA World Endurance Championship will be part of the 2012 racing calendar, the spotlight on American teams will grow even brighter. In the center of that spotlight it Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports.

In 2011, the Level 5 Motorsports team has made its mark while competing in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), an endurance racing tournament encompassing seven events on three continents.

In the most recent ILMC event, the American Le Mans Series Monterey presented by Patron at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports teammates Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz recorded their best overall finish in a thrilling race.

The highlight of the event for Level 5 Motorsports was the auspicious debut of the team’s new Honda Performance Development ARX-01g. The HPD ARX-01g performed flawlessly throughout the six-hour marathon as the trio of Tucker, Bouchut and Diaz placed fourth overall in the event.

It was a particularly busy weekend for Tucker, who is seeking his fourth national driving championship. He also won the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites and the GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama.

The Level 5 Motorsports crew now turns its attention to the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta scheduled for Oct. 1, the second-to-last event of the 2011 ILMC campaign. The team’s second new HPD ARX-01g is set to make its debut at the Petit Le Mans, a 1,000-mile, 10-hour race. The tournament concludes with the 6 Hours of Zhuhai set to take place in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China on Nov. 12.

It has been an exhilarating year for the Level 5 Motorsports team, which scored podium finishes at Le Mans 24 Hours and the Imola 6 Hours on the ILMC circuit and victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Grand Prix of Long Beach in American Le Mans Series competition.

Tucker, a Kansas City native who resides in Las Vegas, has emerged as one of most prominent American personalities in international sports car racing, having earned the American Le Mans Series Rookie of the Year Award last year while posting four victories in races in the Ferrari Challenge Series. Also during 2010, Tucker served as a Ferrari test driver as the company developed its next-generation supercar, the 599XX.

In 2012, Level 5 Motorsports plans to compete in the inaugural season of the World Endurance Championship, a new international racing circuit.

Read more about American racing star Scott Tucker. Also published at Scott Tucker: America’s International Racing Standout.

Sep 182011

Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports combine in one of the most diverse teams in modern racing. And, that is readily seen in their recent history at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. No matter the race car or the series, the team has performed well on this historic track.

Drivers Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz made their debut in the brand-new Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored HRD ARX-01g in the LMP2 division at Laguna Seca in September. It was announced less that two months before the race that the team was making the switch.

This mid-season change followed a successful start to Level 5’s LMP2 program. The team claimed victories at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Grand Prix of Long Beach. Tucker, with co-drivers Bouchut and Joao Barbosa, also achieved podium finishes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Six Hours of Imola in a separate Honda-powered, Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored prototype. But, the fact that they debuted at at the historic course should pose no extra challenge.

Tucker has experienced plenty of success in first-time rides at Laguna Seca.

He raced here earlier in 2011 in the Ferrari Challenge Series, adding a podium finish during the second event weekend of the 2011 season. That race saw Tucker debut the new Ferrari 458 Challenge, the make that replaced the Ferrari F430 the single-make series had used since 2006.

“Our time in that car had been limited up to that point,” Tucker said. “We really didn’t think we had a good feel for it. But, the runner-up finish proved what the car is capable of, and what we are capable of doing in it.”

And, in 2010 LMPC action, Tucker was bringing the No. 55 ORECA FLM09 prototype here for the first time. He took home the checkered flag after leading 115 laps and setting the race-high fastest lap time of 1:19.343 seconds – a record for the LMPC class at Laguna Seca.

“This is a very challenging racetrack, and we’ve had success here before.”

Read more about Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports

Apr 152011

Chevy began designing a new sporty coupe back in 1958. They were in no hurry to get it to production until Ford released it’s first Mustang in 1964. Ford monopolized the market that year with almost 500,000 units sold and Chevy knew it needed to rally – fast.

The official GM project name for the Camaro was XP-836, archived documentation often refers to it as the “Panther” and there are also photos that show the final production model badged as a “Chaparral”. Despite all the name-tossing, Camaro was the one that stuck. When asked the meaning of the word, productions managers stated that it was “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs”.

The first Camaro was unveiled to the public in late 1966 and sold as a 1967 model. It was a big improvement over GM’s sporty compact car, the Corvair. The utilization of a rear-drive configuration with a front-engine gave the car an edge over it’s rear-engine predecessor that was touted as “unsafe at any speed” by the press. It was available in four different models, including a convertible, and was designed to accommodate any one of 6 available powerplants in the engine bay. The first generation Camaro ran from 1967 to 1969.

The second generation was not released until February of 1970. Because of the late release, the sales of some 69’s extended into early 1970 and were titled as 70’s. This created some confusion and prompted Gen 2 to begin with the 1970 1/2. Inspired by Ferrari, the second generation Camaros were bigger and heavier. All of the options that were available in the first generation series were available in the second except for the convertible model. 1977 was a banner year for the Camaro, resulting in sales that trumped the Mustang by almost 40,000 units. Although emissions regulations and power rating changes in the industry zapped much of the power out of the engines, sales stayed strong through 1979. The gas crisis in the early 80’s killed the Camaro’s sales, and 1981 saw the end of the second generation along with the hope of revival with a total re-design for 1982.

1982 ushered in the third generation, and a truly all-new Camaro design. The engine options were still disappointing at best, starting on the low end with a 2.5L, 90hp powderpuff and the ability to option up to a carburated V8 that put out 165. But, first-time offerings like factory fuel injection, four speed automatics, five speed manuals, 16 inch rims and a hatchback were enough to keep the public buying. The star of Gen 3 was the IROC-Z which was introduced in 1985. It’s Tuned Port Injection engine could crank out 215hp that was welcomed with open arms by the power-starved, but loyal Camaro fans. The big engines (and the convertible) officially returned in 1987, and by 1991 they had bumped the output up to 245hp.

The Fourth Generation Camaro was produced from 1993 through 2002. The line-up was slashed to just two models, the 160hp, V6 sport coupe and the Z-28 which boasted Corvette’s 5.7L, LT1 V8 and it’s 275hp. The convertible was, once again, removed from the production line. Power upgrades continued annually through the Fourth Generation models and finally broke into the 300hp range in 1996 with it’s SLP engineered SS model. The first all-aluminum engine since 1969 was offered in 1998 in the form of a small-block LS1 V8. A beast of an engine packing 305hp that was boostable to 320 with the available ram-air induction system. The Camaro remained virtually unchanged through 2002 except for some small engine and accessory add-ons and a few graphics packages. 2002 was the last production year for the Chevy Camaro for eight long years.

Enthusiasts rejoiced with the return of the Camaro in 2010. With it’s design based largely on the 1969 model plus enough new-age advances to satisfy today’s car shoppers, the Fifth Generation Camaro came out of the gates a huge success. The LS and LT versions come equipped with a V6 that spouts over 300hp, and the grunt of the line-up, the SS, comes with a 6.2 liter V8 that smacks down 426hp.

There’s no doubt that the 5th gen Camaro scratches the itch of many Chevy fans. With it’s above average performance and over-indulgent power, it’s sure to stick around for a while.

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