BOSTON (September 13, 2017) – Finishing out a mixed Pirelli World Challenge season that has seen everything from dominant victories to a slate of Balance-of-Performance challenges, Black Swan Racing will arrive at this weekend’s Grand Prix of Sonoma looking to hold on to their current third place rankings in two separate championships.
“We’ve had a lot of positives on the 2017 season, and we’d definitely like to finish on a high,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner Tim Pappas. “We’ve been very vocal about our struggles with Balance of Performance throughout the middle of the season, but we’ve enjoyed a couple of strong runs during the past two events, and heading to the finale we want to keep that run of success. Everyone on the team has done a great job all season running a competitive, reliable program, and it shows in our championship standings despite a rough mid-season. A top three in both the overall and Sprint championships is a satisfactory finish for us, and we’d like to clinch that.”
Driving the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, Pappas heads in to this weekend’s double-header sitting third in category for both the five-weekend Sprint Championship, as well as the Overall Driver’s Championship which combines both the Sprint and SprintX seasons. While holding a relatively comfortable lead in the overall rankings, the Boston native only holds a 10-point lead in the Sprint standings, a surmountable gap should the weekend prove problematic.
Heading to the 2.2-mile, 11-turn Sonoma Raceway, the circuit provides a unique configuration with minimal straights, and a seemingly endless series of left-and-right switchbacks. With the Mercedes-AMG providing strong levels of both mechanical grip and downforce, hopes are high that the team will have the right package for the weekend’s events, but as always the reality of the car’s pace won’t become evident until Friday practice begins.
Serving as one of the shortest weekends of the year, a very brief practice session will occur this Friday, September 22, with a double-header of racing taking place on Saturday and Sunday. The race GT/GTA events will take place at 5:15PM ET on Saturday, and 10AM on Sunday, with all races broadcast live at world-challenge.com/streamvideo.
AUSTIN, Texas (September 5, 2017) – Looking to conclude their “SprintX” weekend on a high, Black Swan Racing drivers Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen would accomplish just that with a sweep of second place finishes during this weekend’s triple-header of events at the famed Circuit of the Americas.
With the Austin-based circuit located just 160 miles from nearby Houston, Black Swan Racing team owner Tim Pappas has also elected to donate all prize money, as well personally match it, donating a sum total of $14,890 to the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey.
“Overall we should all be very proud of the effort,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “We gave it everything we had all weekend, and from what I’m told we provided some of the most exciting action on track, and it was a lot of fun to be in the hunt like that. Finishing the SprintX season on a high like this is really fulfilling, and of course I have to thank Jeroen for being such an excellent teammate as always. The events over the last two weeks in Texas are of course at the forefront of everyone’s attention, and at the very least we want to donate our prize earnings, as well as personally match it, to the efforts.”
Driving the No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3, the race action began for the team on Friday, with the first race of the weekend serving as a make-up for a previously rained out event in Canada. Starting from pole, Jeroen Bleekemolen would get out to an early class lead, putting his machine through its paces and never under real threat from anyone within his own class. Handing the car over to Tim, an increasing threat from the second-in-class Porsche behind him continued to loom, and by the closing laps it was clear Tim had his work cut out for him. Unfortunately, heading in to the tricky Turn 12, a late move by the Porsche would send Tim wide, forcing him to give up the position and resign to second by time they reached the checkered flag.
During Saturday’s Race Two, Pappas would take on opening duties from fifth, avoiding the chaos inherent in the series, and settling in to a pace as his stint wore on. Comfortably in the top-five, Tim would eventually hand the car over, with Bleekemolen once again earned his reputation as one of the best in the business, advancing his way up to third, and eventually second when mechanical misfortune would hit the second-place Porsche.
Finally, closing out the SprintX season in Race Three, Bleekemolen would continue where he left off, opening the race running second in class, and managing the gap to the leader while preserving the car for his teammate. Pappas would actually take the reigns having inherited the lead, with the race leading Porsche having taken longer in the pits. From this point on, Pappas would push hard to keep his competitor at bay, with the duo trading corner for corner. With three laps to go, contact between the two would actually send Tim’s Mercedes for a spin, with the Porsche wisely choosing to wait for Tim to rejoin the track in order to avoid a penalty. Locked in a nose-to-tail fight for the final two laps, the ultimate straight-line pace of the Porsche would prove too much, and Tim would relinquish the lead on the long back-stretch headed in to Turn 12. He would cross the line in second, satisfied he’d done all he could.
The weekend would mark the end of the SprintX season and pairing with Jeroen Bleekemolen, however Jeroen will return to the team in October for the upcoming Eight Hours of Laguna Seca.
The Pirelli World Challenge still has one race remaining, however, returning to the traditional “sprint” format at the Grand Prix of Sonoma, where Tim will drive solo. Practice begins on Friday, September 15, with a double header of racing taking place on Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17.
BOSTON (August 31, 2017) – Returning to the marque that has brought the team tremendous success in endurance racing, Black Swan Racing will once again compete with Porsche machinery, entering both the upcoming Intercontinental GT Challenge at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as well as February’s Bathurst 12 Hour. This will be in addition to a full 2018 schedule that will still see the team with Mercedes-AMG in a to-be-announced program.
“We’re excited to return to our endurance roots with Porsche,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner Tim Pappas. “It goes without saying that Porsche is the most proven manufacturer in the history of endurance racing, and is the brand that our team has achieved the most success with. When we decided that we wanted to return our focus to international endurance racing, we felt they were the obvious choice between not only the car, but also the support structure in place with Porsche Motorsport. The Intercontinental GT Challenge has already proven to be a tremendous platform, and competing in the inaugural U.S. round is something we didn’t want to miss. Thanks to our partnership with David Calvert-Jones the opportunity to compete at Bathurst was also an unbeatable opportunity, and one we should relish in. We look forward to the program, which we’ll run alongside our efforts with Mercedes-AMG, which we’re still committed to for not only the rest of 2017, but 2018 as well.”
Competing in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, the team will be part of a star-studded lineup during the October 15 event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, serving as the third round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge. Making its debut last year, the Intercontinental GT Challenge is the latest broadening of the internationally-revered GT3 specification of GT racing cars. Conforming to a worldwide set of rules, GT3 racing has attracted some of the most exotic marques in the world, including Porsche, Ferrari, Audi, Bentley, Mercedes-AMG, and beyond, with the four-race series serving as the lone worldwide championship. True to the name, the championship is based on a four-race schedule on four different continents, with the Laguna Seca round taking the honors of the first-ever held in the United States.
Returning to Porsche, the majority of Black Swan Racing’s major victories have come in 911 machines. Beyond their two championships in the former American Le Mans Series, the team has also enjoyed tremendous endurance success, including victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as well as Petit Le Mans. Most recently, Black Swan Racing took runner-up honors at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in 2016, coming within seconds of victory in the very Porsche they’ll be using this October.
For Owen Hayes, Director of Operations for Porsche Motorsport North America, Black Swan’s role as the first Porsche Motorsport customer team to commit to the event is a well noted one.
“We are seeing a growing interest in the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge in North America, and are pleased that Tim Pappas and Black Swan Racing are the first Porsche Motorsport customer to commit to competing with their 911 GT3 R,” stated Hayes. “We at PMNA are looking forward to working closely with the experienced team in what promises to be a great event.”
Returning as a near trademark member, Jeroen Bleekemolen will once again join the team for both endurance events. Bleekemolen’s affiliation with Black Swan Racing is a storied one, co-driving with Pappas in all of their major victories and championships, as well as returning to the team this season and immediately taking victory in their first weekend together during the Pirelli World Challenge’s SprintX championship.
New to the team but a veteran of the sport, David Calvert-Jones will also join Black Swan for the Laguna Seca round, as well as sharing a technical partnership with his own team at Bathurst. A veteran of Porsche racing, the native Australian, who is based in Los Angeles, has competed in everything from the former American Le Mans Series to the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup USA, but most notably will be entering his fifth Bathurst 12 Hour. No stranger to success, Calvert-Jones is a recent winner of the event, taking his class this year.
“It’s great to partner with Tim and everyone at Black Swan Racing,” stated Calvert-Jones. “The team has one of the best records of success in endurance racing, and I look forward to integrating with them in Monterey. Bathurst is of course a race that is very close to my heart, and I look forward to bringing everyone over and showing them just how special an event it really is.”
While the team looks forward to the endurance challenge, they’re still committed to their 2017 efforts in the Pirelli World Challenge, which still has two races remaining. Continuing with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, Pappas and Bleekemolen will finish the series’ SprintX season during this weekend’s triple-header at Circuit of the Americas, while Pappas will drive as the solo entry in the season finale at Sonoma Raceway on September 16 and 17.
Official practice at Circuit of the Americas begins on Friday, with three separate races taking place on Friday at 8PM ET, Saturday at 5PM ET, and Sunday at 1:30PM ET. Live coverage will be available via www.world-challenge.com/streamvideo
BOSTON (August 10, 2017) – With the Pirelli World Challenge returning to the two-driver, “SprintX” format during this weekend’s double-header at Utah Motorsport Campus, Black Swan Racing is pleased to welcome the return of Jeroen Bleekemolen to co-drive with full-season driver Tim Pappas. Driving the No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3, the high altitude of the Utah-based circuit has notoriously proven challenging for normally-aspirated machines, but the team is prepared for action regardless.
“Racing in the high altitude of Utah Motorsport Campus always presents a unique challenge,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “Our engine is pretty heavily restricted as it is, but with the high altitude those deficits become even larger for cars that aren’t turbocharged, so we’re approaching the weekend with modest expectations. The car’s grip and downforce should prove excellent through the fast and twisty parts of the track, but the long straight will provide an interesting question mark. Luckily we have the best co-driver you could ever ask for in Jeroen, and we’re focused on maximizing the best result we can.”
Running the 3-mile “outer course,” the configuration of Utah Motorsport Campus is one that balances high speed corners with one of the longest straights in the championship. While the overall power and downforce of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 should prove advantageous, a combination of mandated engine restrictions as well as the unique altitude of the location is expected to prove difficult for the team.
Running the fourth weekend “SprintX” competition, Black Swan Racing will be part of the GTX category, running two 60-minute races on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Featuring two drivers per car, the weekend will serve as a tribute to the endurance heritage of sportscar racing, with driver changes and pit stops playing a role in the race’s outcome. To date, the team has had their best results of the season in SprintX competition, with Pappas and Bleekemolen taking victory at VIRginia International Raceway in April.
Official practice begins this Friday, August 11, with the GTX category featuring a double-header race weekend. Racing will take place at 1:40PM on Saturday and 12:30PM on Sunday. Live streaming can be found at world-challenge.com/streamvideo.
BOSTON (July 31, 2017) – Returning to the traditional sprint format of the Pirelli World Challenge, Black Swan Racing and driver Tim Pappas would enjoy a strong weekend at the famed Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, walking away with a podium finish during Saturday’s race.â€¨ â€¨“It was a decent weekend overall for us,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner Tim Pappas. “We just had nothing for the Porsches ahead of us, but we knew that going in. Overall we’re satisfied with consistently being ‘best in class,’ and we’ll have to walk away knowing that we were as strong as we could be. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was strong all weekend, and now that that we’re six months in with this car I feel like we’re getting the most out of it. Saturday’s podium was definitely the highlight, and it’s admittedly a little frustrating that we didn’t repeat that yesterday. Seeing the leaders get backed up a bit in the final corner, I felt I might be able to force myself into the equation. As can happen at the end of close racing, the assessment was overly optimistic and resulted in a spin but we know the pace was there and we’ll be well suited for the rest of the year.”
Qualifying his No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 fourth in the GTA class, Saturday’s Race One would see Tim’s experience shine through as the race began, immediately elevating himself to third in the opening laps and staying within contention of the lead duo. Doing his best to keep pace, the balance and setup of the car proved formidable, however on-going series-mandated adjustments to the car’s performance would restrict the car’s pace just enough to keep him from making large gains, ultimately accepting a third place finish.
During Sunday’s Race Two, the Boston native would grid himself third, where he’d settle in once the race started. Running a race of all green-flag laps, Tim actually held with the lead pack, part of a four-car train all fighting hard for first-place honors. Not putting a foot wrong all race, as the race came in to the frantic final laps, a final lap battle between the class leaders would open up a small window of opportunity for Tim to make a daring pass in the final corner, which proved unsuccessful and would send Tim back to fifth once it all shook out.
While three weekends of Pirelli World Challenge competition still remain on the calendar, only one weekend remains in the series’ traditional “sprint” championship, where Pappas is engaged in a very tight battle for third-place honors in the standings. The next round of competition will be in two weeks’ time, resuming the endurance oriented “SprintX” championship at Utah Motorsport Campus.