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. “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.
BOSTON (July 26, 2017) – With only two weekends remaining in the Pirelli World Challenge “sprint” championship, Black Swan Racing will head in to this weekend’s doubleheader at the famed Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with some very simple keys to improving performance for the weekend.
“At Black Swan Racing, we are all motivated to win and that's our goal every weekend,” stated Pappas. “Unfortunately, everyone’s favorite word, ‘BoP,’ has a strange way of arbitrarily deciding the winner before ever turning a lap. Luckily, we’ve got it all sorted out, and winning should be pretty simple! We just need to follow some simple steps.”
With the series-mandated and SRO-dictated Balance of Performance (BoP) resulting in the No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 being continuously de-tuned in the theory of equalizing performance between cars, the team need only make some basic adjustments to find themselves competitive.
STEP ONE: Just find 80lbs to lose.
With the series progressively adding more and more weight to Black Swan’s No. 54 machine, the team finds itself increasingly at odds with the disparity between their car’s weight vs competitors.
Needing to lose roughly 80 lbs., Pappas has a few solutions.
“Since we’re not allowed to take weight out of the car, all I have to do is lose 80 pounds in the next two days,” stated Pappas. “Unfortunately Mid-Ohio isn’t known for its bounty of plastic surgeons, so I’ll have to lose weight the old fashioned way. For example, I saw a very trustworthy sign by the side of the freeway that said ‘Lose 20 pounds in on week’ and then a phone number, they seem like a good consulting service. I also once drove for a team known for a good supply of Colombia-based diet supplements, so I’ll have to see the latest on whether or not they’re coming this weekend.”
STEP TWO: Just find 6mph top speed.
With increasing restrictions placed on the engine’s intake, effectively choking it from valuable air to produce power, the team has found themselves down as much as 6MPH at the end of the straights at tracks like Road America and Canadian Tire Motorsport.
“Finding a way to force more air in to the engine’s intake is a little more complicated,” continued Pappas. “Then we realized, we just need to hire some of the supposed ‘experts’ found in the forums of a number of racing websites. Our engineer ran some calculations, and if they all talk at once while standing in front of the car, it should supply us enough hot air to gain us about another 50hp.”
STEP THREE: Collectively Beat Our Heads Against a Wall
While the challenges to the current Balance of Performance have gone relatively unanswered, Pappas realizes beating his head against a wall, by himself, may not be the cure.
“One person beating his head against a wall is frivolous, we all know that,” mused Pappas. “Luckily, I have a very loyal crew and decent health insurance, so we’re going to all beat our heads against a wall, together, to see if that makes us go faster. I consulted with some of the best retired doctors from professional football, and they all promise me that repeated and hard contact against a wall should be pretty harmless, so I trust them.”
Official practice for this weekend’s double header will begin on Friday, with Saturday’s Race One occurring at 4:45PM ET, and broadcast at world-challenge.com/streamvideo/ . Sunday’s Race Two will be broadcast same-day on CBS Sports Network at 2PM ET.
ELKHART LAKE, WIs. (June 26, 2017) – Returning to the traditional “sprint” format of Pirelli World Challenge racing, core to the series heritage, Black Swan Racing driver Tim Pappas and the No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 would enjoy a strong weekend, scoring podiums in class during each of the double-header events during this weekend’s fourth and fifth rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge GTA championship. Despite a recent series of balance-of-performance (BoP) required adjustments that had adverse effects on various aspects of the machine, both driver and team would still enjoy strong runs, taking third in both events.
"Overall we're pretty pleased with our consecutive podiums this weekend, despite some of the BoP challenges. Walking away with hardware is always a good feeling, and consistent points is also great for the championship, so all in all we'll take it. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is an amazing machine that should have really excelled at Road America, but unfortunately the current series-mandated changes to the car put us down by as much as 5MPH at the end of the three fast sections, which is huge at Road America. Regardless, I really enjoyed battling with some of the other competitors, it's always fun when everyone races clean. Unfortunately the way the starts and caution periods worked with the current BoP we weren't able to make a big run to move further, so in that sense we're satisfied with our finish."
Qualifying second in the GTA class for Saturday’s Race One, the challenges for the No. 54 were most evident during race starts and re-starts, with the series-required changes to the engine’s air restrictor robbing it of enough power during the key straightaways to keep pace with the rest of the pack. As the field shuffled through the opening lap, Tim would be caught out in the process, with the power deficit playing a major factor, dropping back to third by time the pace settled. While both driver and machine showed pace throughout the stint, the challenges of low top-speed made the possibility of a run to pass for second nearly impossible, resigning the car to the final podium spot.
During Sunday’s Race Two, the story would follow a similar theme, albeit with a much shorter race. Due to a heavy accident, nearly half the race would be lost to a red flag for track cleanup, giving Pappas virtually no time to make up lost ground, once again taking third place points.
Overall, the weekend would prove vital for the team’s championship efforts, with Pappas now in a fight for top-three honors in the series sprint standings.
With the Pirelli World Challenge taking a break for a few weeks, the return to “sprint” racing will continue in a few weeks’ time, once again joining the Verizon IndyCar Series at the famed Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 28-30.
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/