ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — On the heels of a championship lead-extending fourth American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón victory of the season, Level 5 Motorsports and Scott Tucker head to historic Road America, regarded as one of the most anticipated races on the calendar.
This time, there will be an added level of excitement, as the team welcomes back Simon Pagenaud and Ricardo Gonzalez to the driving strength for Sunday’s Orion Energy Systems 245.
With Ryan Briscoe still on the mend from last month’s Honda Indy Toronto, where he sustained a fractured wrist, fellow IZOD IndyCar Series star Pagenaud has been drafted in to team with nine-time national driving champion Tucker in Level 5’s No. 551 Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b race car.
Pagenaud is no stranger to success, particularly in Honda-powered cars. The former ALMS Prototype champion claimed IndyCar Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2012 and backed it up with his first career victory in Detroit in June. Considered to be one of the most versatile drivers in the business, the 29-year-old Frenchman recently took part in the Pikes Peak Int’l Hill Climb at the wheel of a Honda Odyssey minivan. He will be making his second start of the season with Level 5, after a runner-up finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March and is fresh off a second place finish in last weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Joining P2 championship leader Marino Franchitti in the No. 552 HPD this weekend will be Gonzalez, who recently notched the P2 class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 34-year-old Mexican driver made three starts with Level 5 in 2012, which included being part of the team’s historic 1-2 overall finish at Baltimore. Gonzalez, the 2011 ALMS Prototype Challenge champion, currently leads the FIA World Endurance Championship in the P2 class.
“We feel it’s best to give Ryan a few more weeks to heal up and we therefore made the decision to have Simon drive for us this weekend,” said team principal Tucker. “Simon’s done a great job for us in the past and is one of the most experienced and successful drivers in HPD prototypes, so it was a logical choice for us. It’s also great to welcome Ricardo back to Level 5. We enjoyed having him with the team last year; he was an important part of our championship season. I think we’re in good shape for Road America.”