SALINAS, Calif. (October 16, 2017) – Competing in the first-ever U.S. round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, Black Swan Racing and the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R would take a dominant class victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as well as a top-five overall. Despite competition from a number of factory-back entrants, drivers Tim Pappas, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and David Calvert-Jones would run a flawless eight-hour race to not only best numerous factory competitors, but also top honors for Porsche in their efforts.
“This was as good a result as we ever could have asked for,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and driver Tim Pappas. “Of course our biggest target was winning our class, but with the pace of our Porsche and the job that Jeroen and David were doing, we knew we had a shot at doing well overall. To take a top-five overall, and the best finishing Porsche, is a huge testament to everyone on this team. We haven’t run this car in a year, and to pick up right where we left off is a great testament to everyone, I’m proud of the effort.”
With Bleekemolen qualifying the car on pole, the race was off to a relatively smooth beginning, with Pappas taking on starting duties and never putting a foot wrong. Running through a scheduled driver rotation, the opening hours would prove steady for the team, with Calvert-Jones and Bleekemolen also running faultless, and the team taking a significant lead as the laps counted on.
By time the race reached halfway, a two-lap lead in class would prove formidable, with the team focusing on top Porsche honors overall, setting a number of fastest laps in the process.
Of important note, despite never competing in the series prior, the team made zero mistakes in pit stops and procedures, which would prove critical as it meant they incurred zero penalties during their run.
As the second half of the race wore on, the team’s comfortable pace would eventually advance them to fifth as the race hit its closing minutes, with Bleekemolen engaged in an incredible battle to defend a hard-charging Robert Frijns who was rebounding from a penalty.
Not putting a foot wrong, Jeroen’s Porsche would hold off the charging Audi behind him, proving a remarkable achievement for the privateer effort.
“I think our consistency was key to this result,” stated Bleekemolen. “Ten or fifteen laps into a stint, other cars started struggling and our car still behaved well. When Frijns was chasing me at the end, I told the team that I would not take any risks. But I did want to keep him behind me. It was a great scrap and a lot of fun.”
For David Calvert-Jones, a similar enjoyment was shared.
“This was a lot of fun to be a part of,” stated Calvert-Jones. “We came to this race as a private entry and with a Pro-Am lineup against all-pro teams, but we kept plugging away at our lap-times, and the consistent approach worked incredibly. This is a great team and I’m very thankful to be a part of it, we should all be very satisfied.”
While the specifics are still to be announced, Black Swan Racing is already hard at work in preparation for their 2018 plans, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
BOSTON (October 11, 2017) – Just one day away from practice, Black Swan Racing is prepared and ready for the upcoming California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As previously announced, the team will be an instant contender in the GT3 Pro-Am category during Sunday’s first-ever U.S. edition of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC), serving as the third round in a four-race championship on four different continents.
“This is an event we’re really excited to be a part of,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and driver Tim Pappas. “The concept behind the IGTC is a really strong one, and we’re very supportive of the first-ever U.S. effort. Between Jeroen and David, we have a great lineup, and returning to Porsche is something we all look forward to. Laguna Seca is one of the most storied tracks for anyone to drive at, and we hope to be strong class contenders.”
Switching to the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, which the team campaigned throughout 2016, the driver lineup will feature Tim Pappas, long-time co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen, and team newcomer David Calvert-Jones. Pappas and Bleekemolen have of course enjoyed a relationship that stems back to 2010, including two American Le Mans Series championships, wins at Sebring at Petit Le Mans, and most recently during this year’s Pirelli World Challenge series at VIRginia International Raceway. New to the team but not new to endurance racing, David Calvert-Jones joins as a veteran of Porsche races worldwide, including a class win at the Bathurst 12 hours.
Official practice begins this Friday, October 13, with race action taking place on Sunday, October 15. CBS Sports Network will cover the first two hours of the race at 12:20PM ET, followed by the last hour at 7:20PM ET, with all eight hours streamed live via MotorTrend on Demand.
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