No driver in the Long Beach paddock will have as much track time this weekend than Ryan Hunter-Reay - and that's just fine with the Floridian.
The 29-year old will saddle up in one of Level 5 Motorsports' two LMP Challenge entries alongside team owner Scott Tucker for Saturday's Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, before switching to his regular IndyCar for Sunday's open-wheel feature.
It will be the second start in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón for Hunter-Reay, who also will drive for Andretti Autosport in Sunday's IndyCar race, and he becomes the first driver to run both series on the same weekend since Ryan Briscoe did the double for Penske Racing at Belle Isle in 2008.
“This year I've been driving with Level 5 quite a bit - it's a great team and the opportunity really presented itself where I could do both races,” said Hunter-Reay, who posted the fastest LMPC race lap at Sebring in Level 5's ORECA FLM09 prototype, “Both teams are pretty co-operative letting me drive in both series, and it shows that they have a lot of faith in my abilities. I've been used to jumping in and out of race cars pretty quick, so I think I can adjust to things pretty well.”
The American's career at Long Beach dates back to 2002 in Formula Atlantic - where he finished 18th but started second and had the fastest lap of the race. Since then, he has raced there in both Champ Car and IndyCar, so he's familiar with the famous street track, even if driving the bigger Level 5 prototype will be a bit of a mystery until Friday morning's first practice.
“The lines will be the same, but the braking and shifting points will be different,” RH-R noted, “How you can apply the power will be different as well. The LMPC car has a different style than even the P2 cars do. It's a smaller car, but it does have quite a bit of downforce, so you have drive it with a different approach using the aero package. In an IndyCar, you have to strangle the car a little bit more.”
There is no set plan for how many LMPC events Hunter-Reay will see this year; it's more of a matter of how the schedules fall, but he is hopeful that his prototype exploits will lead to another big race appearance.
“I really would like to race Le Mans,” he admits, “That's really one of the things I want. It's a fantastic race and something I definitely hope to do at some point in my career.”