BATHURST, Australia (February 5, 2018) – Participating in their first-ever 12 Hours of Bathurst, the first round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, Black Swan Racing would make a historic debut by winning the Pro-Am class, taking third overall and within sight of the win, and the highest ranking of any Porsche during the event. Noted as one of the toughest endurance races in one of the world’s most prolific tracks, the No. 540 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Tim Pappas, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Luca Stolz and Marc Lieb would enjoy a faultless run to take top honors.
“This was an amazing weekend,” stated Black Swan team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “Bathurst is a circuit unlike any other, I like to call it the ‘Monaco of the Outback,’ and something as a collective team we were really looking forward to. To walk away with a victory like this is more than we ever could have asked for. The team arrived well prepared, the guys made great decisions on pit strategy, and of course our drivers were absolutely flawless. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the effort from everyone, and of course the support from Porsche, to make this a reality. To not only win our class, but also stand on the overall podium and as the top Porsche, it’s unreal, and something we won’t forget.”
As one of the most notorious circuits in the world, Bathurst’s Mount Panorama is a venue known for high speeds and little room for error, often creating a slew of incidents and contact.
With attrition at the forefront of the team strategy, the entire weekend was dictated by a measured approach, slowly getting up to speed during each session, being careful not to make costly mistakes that could ruin the team’s weekend.
By time the green flag fell, the high attrition rate would prove true, with a number of incidents and caution periods curtailing the event, including a near miss for Tim Pappas as he barely managed to avoid a loose wheel from a crashing competitor.
By time the halfway point was reached, it was clear the team was in a prime position to contend. With minimum drive-times all fulfilled, the team’s strategic decision to hold its most experienced drivers for the end would prove the right call, primed to fight for a podium position in class as the final hours closed in.
It was with just over one hour remaining, however, that the key strategic decision was made. When a timely yellow would fall, bunching the field up, the team elected to pit for the final time for tires and fuel, as well as putting the experienced Marc Lieb in for the end. While the timing would mean the team would be very close on fuel to the end, it would also mean that the competitors ahead, who had not stopped yet, would likely fall behind the No. 540 by time their final stops cycled through.
Maintaining pace and saving fuel at the same time, the strategy proved correct, as the team would advance to first by time everything cycled, with Lieb holding the lead and doing his best to manage his fuel to the end.
In the final minutes, and knowing they may be able to make it to the end while the overall race leaders in front may not, a red flag would ensure the victory, with the race stopped due to a heavy incident and everyone locked in their positions as the final result.
Not only would it serve as the team’s first victory in their first attempt, but it would also mean they’re two-for-two in Intercontinental GT Challenge competition, as well as adding Bathurst to their win tally that includes: Sebring, Petit Le Mans, and Long Beach.
For Jeroen Bleekemolen, a similar feeling is shared.
“This was a fantastic result for everyone involved,” stated Bleekemolen. “It’s such a tricky circuit, and so easy to make a critical mistake, that aiming for a clean finish would have been reasonable. To end up taking the class win, third overall among some all-pro lineups, and the top Porsche finisher, is pretty unbelievable. It’s a great testament to the team and the crew, who did a great job preparing for this.”
The next round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge will move to the lone European round, the famed 24 Hours of Spa on July 26-29. With over five months until the next round of competition, the team has additional plans to race in other events, with more plans to be announced.
BATHURST, Australia (February 1, 2018)- Arriving at the famed Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, Australia, Black Swan Racing is proud to confirm their full-season participation in the famed Intercontinental GT Challenge. A four-race championship that sees races in Australia, Belgium, Japan, and California, the team will campaign its famed green No. 540 Porsche 911 GT3 R for every race, with drivers Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen committed for the year as well.
“After taking part in the U.S. round last year, we saw the potential in the IGTC,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “GT3 racing is some of the greatest on the planet, and to take part in a championship that sees us visit some of the greatest ‘bucket list’ tracks in the world is something that we couldn’t pass up. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Jeroen, and I think our measured approach will prove fruitful. I’m thrilled to be here in Bathurst, this is one of those legendary tracks you always dream about visiting, and our goal here is to just keep it clean and see where we are as the race winds down.”
Part of the popular SRO brand of endurance racing, the IGTC places GT3 specification cars as the premiere class in the four-race championship. Visiting the U.S. for the first time last October, Black Swan Racing took a dominant class victory in their series debut, utilizing it as a springboard to venture in to a full season of racing in 2018.
This weekend, the team will take part in the legendary Bathurst 12 Hour, a grueling race over a sprawling circuit that notoriously leaves no room for error. With walls on all sides for much of the lap, Pappas and Bleekemolen will be joined by Luca Stolz and Marc Lieb, a strong lineup of youth and experience that should prove formidable. Pappas and Bleekemolen have of course shared a number of great victories together, including dual championships in the former American Le Mans Series as well as victories at Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Luca Stolz joins as a young star on the rise having competed in Porsche Carrera Cup, GT Masters, and most recently at The Rolex 24 at Daytona. Marc Lieb is one of the most accomplished drivers in the sport, having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall, four class victories, and numerous championships in the WEC, European and American Le Mans Series.
The Bathurst 12 Hour will begin this Saturday, February 3, at 1:45PM ET, with live streaming at http://www.bathurst12hour.com.au/
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.