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Racin’ News: Level 5 ALMS Team To Go With Honda

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, July 21 2011

Scott Tucker's Level 5 Motorsports team has signed on with Honda. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)


In Racin’ News today, Thursday, July 21:

(In this package – Level 5 has deal with HPD; ECR apologizes after penalty)

Level 5 Motorsports announced Thursday that it has entered in a new alliance with Honda Performance Development that will see the team compete with the manufacturers’ new LMP2 car, beginning with the Six Hours of Silverstone in September.

Level 5’s mid-season switch comes following a successful start to its LMP2 program, with victories at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Grand Prix of Long Beach. Owner/driver Scott Tucker and co-drivers Christophe 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.

The team, based in Madison, Wis., will now utilize the HPD ARX-01g, Honda’s bespoke chassis and engine combination, in the remaining Intercontinental Le Mans Cup rounds at Silverstone, Road Atlanta and Zhuhai, China. Additionally, Level 5 plans to field two HPDs in the six-hour American Le Mans Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September, as well as the 14th annual Petit Le Mans in October.

“We looked through all of the numbers, inside and out, and from our perspective, there’s no doubt the Honda package in the new cost-capped configuration will be a front runner in LMP2,” said Tucker, a three-time national driving champion. “We’ve seen gains with the engine all year and the good thing is that there’s still room for development. The HPD engine and chassis combination has proven to be the best over the years. We feel very comfortable and confident in making this unprecedented and decisive move in the middle of the season.”

Built by Wirth Research, the HPD ARX-01g is an evolution of the highly successful prototype, which has captured 22 class victories worldwide since its debut in 2007, including the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours. While sharing the same DNA as the ARX-01d, Level 5’s new open-top contender will conform to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s cost-capped rules that were introduced this season. The team has reserved the first two chassis that will be produced.

“We feel that our best opportunity to be prepared for the remaining ILMC races this year, and looking beyond into 2012, and where LMP2 may go was to align with Honda and Wirth Research’s synergistic package,” said team manager David Stone. “With Honda’s history and track record, we believe they’ll continue developing its production-based engine, which is what we believe is in the true spirit of the ACO rules.”

Level 5 anticipates taking delivery of the first chassis, built at Wirth Research’s U.K. facility, just prior to the Silverstone ILMC race. All three drivers, along with the team’s engineers, will take advantage of Wirth’s cutting-edge vehicle simulator to gain a better understanding of the new car before its planned debut in September. Level 5 plans to also mount an extensive off-season testing and development program ahead of the 2012 season with its new LMP2 cars.

“Obviously this change makes a very bold statement in the middle of the year for a team that was so well invested in one brand to move to another brand,” Stone added. “But, by the same token, we’re keeping our options open for the future and will see how things develop, both in the way the cars perform, as well as what the different series do with their regulations.”

The Six Hours of Silverstone, the fifth round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, is scheduled for Sept. 9-11. Eurosport will have trans-European television coverage, with radiolemans.com providing live online and trackside radio commentary throughout the entire weekend.

Earnhardt Childress reacts

The following is a statement from Richie Gilmore, chief operating officer of ECR Engines, regarding NASCAR’s July 20 announcement of a penalty involving the July 16 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

“ECR Engines apologizes for the steps that led to the disqualification at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. There was absolutely no intent on our part to circumvent the rulebook. We simply made a mistake when building the engine. We offer our sincere apologies to Kevin Manion and everyone at Kevin Manion Racing, Ryan Newman and his fans, and NASCAR.”

Newman had won the race but post-race inspection resulted in the penalty. Newman was stripped of the victory.

According to NASCAR, the team was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20D-5.9P (the intake manifold ports did not completely seal to the cylinder head ports. The use of metal shim-type intake manifold gaskets is not permitted) of the 2011 NASCAR rule book.

NASCAR also suspended the team Newman drove with – a team owned by Kevin Manion –from competing on the Whelen Modified Tour for the remainder of the 2011 season.

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, July 21 2011
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