BOSTON (June 21, 2017) – Following three event weekends in the new “SprintX” format, Black Swan Racing and the Pirelli World Challenge will return to the core of the series during this weekend’s double-header at Road America, reverting to the traditional single-driver “sprint” format. Arriving at the historic track in Wisconsin’s resort city of Elkhart Lake, Tim Pappas will take to the wheel of his No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the series’ GTA class.
"Returning to Road America is always something we look forward to,” stated Black Swan Racing driver and team owner Tim Pappas. “The long straights, hills, and high-speed corners require a little bit of everything, and we have that with the Mercedes-AMG GT3. The car's torque should really pay dividends up the long hills, and the downforce suits us really well in the long corners. It's always tough to say how you think you're going to perform, there's always changes in BoP and the unique characteristics of each car, but we're confident we can run well. We've taken a few hits in the championship during the first few sprint rounds, so in a way it makes the focus easier for us, we just have to try to win."
Taking to the 4-mile, 14-turn Road America course, the longest of the 2017 season, both driver and team will need to maximize peak performance out of all aspects of the car. With Road America featuring heavy uphill portions, extremely fast corners, connected by some of the longest straightaways in North America, the requirements of the 62-year old track are unlike any other.
A favorite of everyone, Black Swan Racing has had success at the storied venue. In 2010 and 2011, the team took consecutive class victories in the former American Le Mans series, followed by a Pirelli World Challenge class victory in 2014, driving the previous generation Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3. Similarly the layout will most reflect the famed VIRginia International Raceway, where Black Swan celebrated victory earlier this year.
Official practice begins this Thursday, June 22, with a double-header of races in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series on Saturday and Sunday. Race One will take place on Saturday, June 24 at 5:30PM ET, with Race Two on Sunday, June 25 at 10:55AM ET. All races will be streamed live at www.world-challenge.com/streamvideo/
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (May 23, 2017) – After setting the pole position for Sunday’s fourth round of Pirelli World Challenge SprintX competition, Black Swan Racing’s attempts to earn their second victory of 2017 would be thwarted by heavy rain. With series officials electing to cancel the race due to safety concerns, the racing action at the famed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park would end in favor of moving the race to a to-be-determined venue on the upcoming calendar.
“We were really hoping to get out on track after the disappointment of Saturday,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “Jeroen put in a fantastic lap to earn us pole position, and we were very confident that we’d have a good shot at everything on Sunday. It was the right decision as the weather was really poor, we’ll just have to hope that the venue they move this to suits us well. We would have liked to have rebounded, as Saturday was a frustrating exercise, and one I hope the series learns from and we can move on. On a positive note, the team debuted a new limited edition Jeroen Bleekemolen baseball cap and sold out the initial production run of 12, which suggests the future for BSR merchandise is as bright as the chrome on the #54 Mercedes AMG GT3.”
As part of a double-header weekend of racing, the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 arrived at the circuit on the momentum of winning the most recent round in Virginia.
Qualifying eighth in class for Saturday’s first race, Tim would take on opening duties, doing a solid job to begin the event by setting lap-times on par with the class leaders. Not putting a foot wrong during his stint, an inopportune yellow flag would arrive at an awkward moment for the team. Due to a series of misunderstandings on yellow flag procedure, by time the team would re-line up with the field once stops had cycled through, the team found themselves nearly a lap down over confusion with the placement of the pace car. To compound that, the team was handed a pit lane penalty for a timing error, forcing the team even further down the order.
By that point, Bleekemolen had no opportunity to gain ground, opting instead to set the fastest lap time possible, which he would accomplish. This would set the stage for a first-place start on Sunday’s race, which was of course rained out.
While the make-up race is still to be determined, the next round of Pirelli World Challenge SprintX competition will actually begin in just a few days’ time, heading to the treacherous Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. At just 1.5-miles long, the circuit is notorious for close racing and the potential for incidents. The first race will take place this coming Friday, May 26, with the next race on Saturday, May 27. Further details will be announced shortly.
BOSTON (May 16, 2017)- Following a strong ending to the first Pirelli World Challenge SprintX weekend of the 2017 season, Black Swan Racing’s Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen will head in this weekend’s third and fourth rounds in search of further victory. After winning the second round of the two-driver sprint category in Virginia, the duo and their No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 will head north of the border to the famed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park looking to add to their tally, in spite of recent balance-of-performance (BoP) changes to the machine.
“We hope to continue our momentum in to Canada,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “The nature of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is always pretty daunting, and prior to the BoP changes I would have said it’s well suited to our car. With great all-around grip and excellent torque up the hills, the Mercedes AMG GT3 has a great baseline for this type of track. For whatever reason this track has always managed to elude our team, but between Jeroen’s success there as well as the performance we showed in Virginia, I’m hopeful we’ll arrive as a contender but we’ll have to see how the weekend goes.”
As a 10-turn, 2.5-mile circuit featuring fast corners and a long back straight, the high-speed nature of the the circuit, formerly known as “Mosport,” should show well for the venerable Mercedes AMG GT3. As the third and fourth rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge’s SprintX category, which requires two drivers to share duties during their 60-minute events, the addition of Jeroen Bleekemolen to full-season driver Tim Pappas has already proven successful with their commanding victory in Virginia. Since that time, a new round of balance-of-performance adjustments have seen additional weight put on to the car, as well as potential changes to the engine management system. While victory has eluded the team in previous races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bleekemolen has twice visited the top step of the podium following class victories in various IMSA ranks.
For Bleekemolen, a return to such a classic track is one the Dutchman always looks forward to.
“Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is a track we always look forward to visiting,” stated Bleekemolen. “It’s a classic track in the sense that it’s very fast, and very unforgiving. To do well there you really have to be on the edge but also never make mistakes, which is why it’s always such a joy to race at. Our last race together in Virginia was a lot of fun, and I don’t see why we can’t continue the same success in Canada. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 continues to prove it’s a car unlike any other across multiple series, and hopefully we can all continue that in Canada.”
Official practice will begin this Friday, May 19, with a double-header of races occurring on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s SprintX Race One will occur at 1:45PM ET with Race Two at 3:40PM ET on Sunday. Live streaming will be available at world-challenge.com/streamvideo
ALTON, Virginia (May 1, 2017)- Wasting no time to continue the partnership that brought two successive championships together, Black Swan Racing drivers Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen took yet another class victory during Sunday’s second round of the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship.
“This was an incredible day for us,” stated Black Swan Racing co-driver Tim Pappas. “It was a total team effort this weekend. We had a wheel issue yesterday that the guys had to work through, so to come back with a car this good today was a compliment to everyone involved. Jeroen did what he does to open up the race, and once I was in I knew all I had to do was run a clean race and we’d be in good shape, and it all worked out. It’s great to be back in victory lane and be part of a great weekend for Mercedes-AMG.”
Driving the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, Pappas and Bleekemolen would team together for the first time since taking victory together in the former American Le Mans Series in 2012. While the Pirelli World Challenge is known for it’s single-driver “sprint” format, the SprintX championship brings out a unique element to the series, maintaining short distance races of 60 minutes but with two driver combinations.
During Saturday’s Race One, a mechanical issue with the left-front of the car would unfortunately thwart efforts at victory, ultimately finishing seventh after quick repairs. However, as part of the double-header event format, the fastest race lap from Race One would grid each entry for Race Two, and a blistering last lap effort by Bleekemolen would put the team on course to start from pole for Sunday’s round.
Taking the green flag for today’s Race Two, Bleekemolen would waste no time opening up a gap within the GTA class, developing a huge lead to his GTA competitors, and engaged in a stint-long battle for the overall lead with yet another Mercedes-AMG GT3. While Jeroen showed repeatedly that he likely had the pace to lead overall, the veteran’s experience would show restraint with unnecessary risk since he was racing someone that wasn’t for position, and instead settling in to a rhythm and just focusing on increasing a gap to his class competitors before pit stops.
Taking the strategic move to leave him out as long as they could, Bleekemolen would run past the halfway mark with a sizable lead, however a caution period would eliminate much of the gap before the car would be handed over to his teammate for the end. From that point, Tim knew the race was in his hands and he simply had to control his pace, which he did masterfully as he cruised to the checkered flag.
This would serve as the first Pirelli World Challenge win for Black Swan Racing since 2015, and the 11th professional win for the pairing of Pappas and Bleekemolen.
“It was great to be back with the team and take another win,” stated Bleekemolen. “Black Swan Racing has played such a big part of my career, and to take another victory today was really great. The car was fast all weekend and we knew we could take a win if we kept clean, and we did just that. Tim drove a very patient stint and we’re all very happy with the result.”
With the middle of the season now in full swing, the next round of Pirelli World Challenge competition will continue with the second weekend of SprintX competition, heading north of the border at the famed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Race action will take place in three weeks’ time, on Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21.
BOSTON (April 21, 2017)- Returning to a lineup that amassed two championships, as well victories at some of the most storied venues in the sport, Black Swan Racing is pleased to announce the return of Jeroen Bleekemolen to the team for the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship. Pairing with season-long driver Tim Pappas, the duo will embark on conquering the series’ Pro-Am category, looking for further victory in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. The first two races of the SprintX season will begin at next weekend’s Grand Prix of VIR, taking place at the scenic VIRginia International Raceway.
“It’s great to have Jeroen back with us,” stated team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “The SprintX format give us a unique opportunity to bring in a second driver for an all-out push to the finish, and Jeroen couldn’t be a better fit. Not only did many of our greatest accomplishments come with him joining us, but he’s had a lot of experience with the car and should be able to provide valuable insight. We’re all very glad to see him return, and hopefully we can add another chapter of success to the team.”
No stranger to success, Bleekemolen first arrived on the U.S. scene in 2010, with Black Swan Racing and Tim Pappas providing his first full-season home in the former American Le Mans Series GTC ranks. Wasting no time to deliver results, the duo would go on to have a landmark series of years, dominating the category from 2010-2011 with nine victories en route to successive championships, including wins at Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
Since that time, the pair have gone on to run in a variety of cars and categories, with Bleekemolen taking another championship in the GTC ranks in 2013, and most recently taking yet another Sebring victory in March with the venerable Mercedes-AMG GT3.
With a strong wave of momentum, the addition of Bleekemolen is just the latest in an increasingly strong roster of drivers in the Pirelli World Challenge’s SprintX championship. A 10-race series that combines the heritage of endurance racing with the excitement of sprint racing, the schedule will feature a double-header weekend of 60-minute races, with each driver taking his turn during a portion of that. This presents a dynamic unlike any other, as drivers will have to share the car and adapt to each other’s setup needs, but with extremely limited time to make up ground.
For Bleekemolen, a return to a familiar home is a welcome one.
“It’s great to be back with Black Swan Racing,” stated Bleekemolen. “The SprintX championship is a unique approach to multi-driver racing, and it should be interesting to compete in an all-out sprint. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has repeatedly proven to be a great car in categories all over the world, and we hope to have the same success here. I really appreciate the opportunity from Tim and the whole team, they played an instrumental role in beginning my U.S. career.”
Practice at VIRginia International Raceway begins one week from today, Friday April 28 through Sunday, April 30. Stay tuned to the team’s social media channels for further information on the availability of live streaming and broadcast.