MONTEREY, Calif. (May 2, 2016)- After running some of their strongest lap times of the weekend, and looking to be a threat for Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Black Swan Racing drivers Tim Pappas and Nicky Catsburg endured a challenging race following a brake failure near the event’s halfway point. Despite missing a large portion of the two-hour race for repairs, the team would still manage to achieve minimum race distance in order to be classified in 17th, currently holding eighth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD standings.
“It’s definitely a disappointing day,” stated team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “As the race went on we were starting to look very competitive, and I think once we gave the car over to Nicky we would have had a really good shot at things, but unfortunately a braking issue bit us. As I went in to Turn Five, the pedal just went to the floor and the car was barely slowing. Luckily it’s a longer turn that runs up hill, so I did my best to try and flick it around to scrub speed, but the car just slid a little too far and beached us in the gravel. It was incredibly frustrating, but at the same time I’m fortunate that it happened there and not at a few other points where we could have incurred some serious damage. Once we got the car back to the pits, the guys did a great job getting everything back in order to get us on track, and that will pay off as we get to the end of the championship.”
Starting the race in eighth, Pappas would take on opening duties in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R. After a disappointing race in Sebring, the Massachusetts native knew that the key to Sunday’s first “sprint race” would be maintaining contact with the lead pack before handing off to co-driver Nicky Catsburg for the final hour of the race. Doing just that, Tim would show a remarkable pace as the race wore on, clicking off some of his best laps of the weekend and engaged in a great battle with long-time friend Bret Curtis in the No. 96 BMW.
Unfortunately, as the race continued toward the 45-minute mark, a failure of the front brake line would keep Tim’s Porsche from decelerating heading in to the uphill-bound Turn Five, causing Pappas to induce a spin to slow his car and sliding in to the outside gravel trap. With the deep gravel of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca doing its job, Pappas found himself stopped and stranded in the spot, with the depth of the gravel preventing his car from being able to resume racing. Race officials would eventually throw a yellow flag, allowing course workers to help remove the car from the turn and tow the stricken vehicle back to the pits for repairs.
For a frantic next 30 minutes, the entire crew at Black Swan would do everything they could to repair the brakes, remove the gravel, and repair any damages in order to get the car back on track to drive a minimum 70% distance to score points. Doing just that, the team was masterful in getting the car back to form, with Nicky Catsburg now behind the wheel to see the finish.
With the team out of contention and simply managing the car to the end, the Dutchman simply ran his laps, completing the minimum distance in order to score 15 points on the day.
“It’s always difficult to get in a car when you know you know there’s no real positions to gain and the car is wounded, but these things happen,” stated Catsburg. “It’s too bad we had the brake issue, but the team was very fast to get the car repaired. Racing wouldn’t be exciting if we could predict the outcome, and this was just one of those events.”
With five weeks until the next event, the team will have some reprieve before heading to the final street circuit of the season in Detroit’s scenic Belle Isle Park. Practice will begin on Friday, June 4, with the race taking place one day later at 12:40PM ET.