Level 5 Motorsports is poised for a multi-class effort in 2014, as the four-time American Le Mans Series championship-winning squad expands to the GT ranks.
Sportscar365 has learned that the Scott Tucker-owned squad has entered a pair of Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 cars in the GT Daytona category, to go along with its already announced two-car Prototype Challenge entry for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The expanded program will see IndyCar ace Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, teammates at Alex Job Racing for the last two seasons, share the wheel of Level 5’s lead Prancing Horse for the entire 11-round championship.
They’ll be joined by former Ferrari Challenge ace Tucker for the long-distance races, who could also drive Level 5’s PC entries in select rounds as well.
“I’ve known Scott over the past couple of years and watched him build a world-class team,” Sweedler told Sportscar365. “He and I have joked on occasion on when they were going to be expanding into GTs. When he let me know he was doing just that, I said let’s figure out how we can do something.”
The deal between Tucker and Sweedler was made over the phone last week, which will see the duo make the switch from a Ferrari 458 GTE car, run by Alex Job Racing this year, to the Italian manufacturer’s GT3-based offering.
“At the end of the day, they’re both 458s,” Bell said. “From a dynamic point of view, I expect it to feel similar. Last year, the Ferrari was such a great platform. We really didn’t have any complaints about the car. It’s very easy to drive and forgiving. Michelotto does a great job building those things.
“To be on common footing now, tire-wise, is going to be very exciting. We really enjoyed our relationship with Yokohama the last two years and working to develop things along. We made some gains but at the end of the day this is about winning races and putting ourselves in a position where there aren’t any excuses.”
According to team manager David Stone, the driver lineup for the team’s second Ferrari GTD entry is still being finalized, while they are continuing to talk to prospective customers and professional drivers for its two-car PC entry.
Stone expects to take delivery of the first Ferrari by the middle of December, potentially in time for private testing before the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 3-5.
“I’m working with Michelotto on sending a small team of Level 5 mechanics over to Italy to assemble the cars so they have an instant familiarity with the cars,” he said. “We’ve done it that way with every other car we’ve built, whether it was with the HPD/Wirth prototypes or the Lolas, it’s always a good practice. A lot is learned in a short period of time.”
Level 5’s two-car Ferrari GTD commitment gives a further boost to the Pro-Am class, which is now expected to see no fewer than 25 full-season entry requests.
The class is currently capped to 19 cars for Daytona, although those numbers may changed according to the level of interest in other classes.