Level 5 Motorsports’ Scott Tucker took his first step in the biggest odyssey of his motorsport career this week behind the wheel of endurance racing’s most successful technological marvel. The owner/driver of Level 5’s LMP Challenge entry in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón drove an Audi R10 TDI for the first time this week at the Paul Ricard test track in France, 14 days before piloting the same car for Kolles at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Once the 24 Hours begins, Tucker will be the first American to drive the R10 TDI – a three-time winner at Le Mans in the hands of Audi Sport. He will drive at Le Mans with Christijan Albers and Manuel Rodrigues. Needless to say, the Audi is a bit of an advancement from the ORECA FLM09 that Tucker drives in the American Le Mans Series.
“The ORECA is a great car, no doubt. But the Audi is obviously a next step up,” Tucker said. “We were pretty prepared for driving a prototype. But this is a larger car, heavier, much more powerful. Driving it here at Ricard is excellent. We drove the Le Mans simulation with the long backstretch. We got it up to the same speeds as Le Mans. It took us a little bit to get used to the engine, to understand that and the gearbox.”
Tucker elaborated on the relative quietness of the R10 TDI’s V12 diesel powerplant. “Coming from a petrol-powered car that is pretty loud, it’s something you have to get used to. By no means have we mastered it yet. Really all you hear is the gearbox and it’s deceiving on upshifts and downshifts. Paying attention to the (dashboard) indicators is key.”
Tucker and Kolles put nearly 2,000 kilometers on the R10 TDI on Wednesday and Thursday. On the track at the same time was the R10’s offspring – Audi’s R15 Plus.
“We were able to be on track and follow them around, get as much information from them as possible,” Tucker said of the private Audi test. “We’re almost treated like factory drivers. We were exposed to everything they did. I can’t even tell you that this is a dream come through. I could never have possibly dreamed this!”
Tucker and Bouchut lead the American Le Mans Series’ LMPC championship standings with two victories – Sebring and Mazda Raceway. Bouchut is a former Le Mans champion having won with Peugeot in 1993.
- American Le Mans Series