Level 5 Motorsports comes up big in Sports Car Challenge

September 01, 2012|By Jonas Shaffer, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Level 5 Motorsports entered this weekend atop the leaderboard of its class. When Saturday's Baltimore Sports Car Challenge ended, the view from the top of the American Le Mans Series looked even better.

Level 5's Christophe Bouchut-Scott Tucker and Ricardo Gonzalez-Luis Diaz teams finished 1-2 in the two-hour race, becoming the first P2 drivers to place first overall in an ALMS race since March's Twelve Hours of Sebring. Not bad for a team that wasn't even represented in Baltimore last year.

"Clearly, our target was to win the P2 class in order to get a better advance for the championship. This is our target of the season," Bouchut said. "But winning overall here, at Baltimore, first time for us, first time for Level 5, one and two — what can you expect better? It's a wonderful day."

It took one turn Saturday for drivers to find trouble. Just seconds after the green flag, a handful of cars were stuck at Turn 1 after third-place starter Eric Lux crashed into the wall. Gonzalez was among them, but good driving and others' bad luck made it inconsequential.

Bouchut-Tucker finished in 2:00:39.749, while Gonzalez-Dias followed in 2:00:41.907.

Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel, who finished third overall (2:00:42.570), captured the PC class. In fourth were GT winners Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler (2:00:44.744). Pole sitters Michael Marsal and Lux claimed the P1 victory with a 13th-place finish (2:01:07.404), while GTC drivers Al Carter and Patrick Pilet rounded out the ALMS winners with a 19th-place showing (2:01:17.025).

Two minutes before the challenge began, a nearby fan reached into Marsal's Lola B11/66 Mazda and pulled the fire-extinguisher pin. Off it went, taking Marsal's focus with it.

"It's pretty crazy," Marsal said afterward. "They went and arrested him. There was a whole big scene. We weren't even sure we were going to be able to start the race."

Within five minutes, however, Marsal and Lux had a new halon fire-suppression system installed.

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