WATKINS GLEN, NY (July 5, 2016)- Looking for a strong result after a difficult series of races, Black Swan Racing drivers Tim Pappas, Nicky Catsburg and Andy Pilgrim enjoyed a quiet run to seventh during Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. Running a solid six hours with minimal mistakes and setting several quick laps, the team took the checkered flag without a scratch on the car, and currently sit seventh in the standings for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“Overall we’re satisfied with the day, even if we have some objections to our penalty,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “At the very least we showed great progress in our learning curve. The GTD field is incredibly close, and with virtually every team and driver line-up being capable of winning, the gap between everyone is extremely tight so it’s always a moving target. We were one of the fastest Porsches out there so we know what we’re capable of, and I think headed to the rest of the season we’ll be in great shape. Big credit to Nicky and Andy who did a stellar job as always, and to everyone on the crew who worked really hard over the last few weeks to get us here.”
Opting to change tires before the race, the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R was actually forced to start from the back of the field by series’ rule as a result, with starting-driver Tim Pappas in the mindset that there was only one direction to move during the course of his stint.
Making a strong start, Pappas did his usual job of keeping his pace within sight of the lead pack, yet avoiding any unnecessary risk on the car, and as the laps continued it was clear he had found a strong rhythm to settle in to. Per series rule, Pappas was required to fulfill a minimum drive-time of one-hour, forty-five minutes, which the team elected to do in an opening double stint. Making a clean first pit-stop after an opportune caution, Tim would continue the same pace throughout his second stint, running error free and of most importance, not losing a lap in the process.
After a fairly quiet run, the team owner would hand the reigns over to full-time teammate Nicky Catsburg, who was instantly on pace as expected. Managing his car and trying to gauge the overall pace for the end of the race, Nicky would run two stints, setting some of the quickest laps in the field in the process. Slowly moving his way up the field, Catsburg would take the team past the halfway point, demonstrating the clear potential of the team’s chances.
After a faultless second stint, the team would elect to pit Nicky in favor of sportscar veteran Andy Pilgrim, who was instantly on point as he made his way on to the circuit. Having been in the sport for several decades, Andy did his usual job of running excellent times without putting the car at any risk, handling his series of stints without any error. While the team had initially looked to possibly double-stint Pilgrim, the elapsed time of the race provided a clear opportunity to put Catsburg in for the final 90 minutes of the race, which the team optioned to do when Andy would come in for the team’s penultimate pit stop.
By this point, the No. 540 Porsche was within the top-five, and with a very serious shot at the podium.
With 90 minutes to go, it was now time for Nicky Catsburg to run full pace, firmly focused on getting their second podium of the season. As a variety of strategies unfolded for the final pit stop, it was clear that Catsburg had his work cut out for him, with the team optimistic on cracking the top-three. Unfortunately, after a caution period with just under 30 minutes remaining, IMSA officials declared that Catsburg had made an illegal pass during the resulting restart. The team strongly voiced their disagreement with the call, fighting it for as long as they could until it was clear that Nicky would have to serve the penalty or face being disqualified. Due to the long drive at pit-road speed, the penalty effectively ended any contention for a podium, forcing Nicky to simply settle in to his rhythm and bring his Porsche home safely in seventh.
For Catsburg, a fairly difficult ending muted the strength shown in the weekend.
“We’re upset with the penalty, but I think behind the scenes there were a lot of things that demonstrated our potential,” stated Catsburg. “We were not only one of the quickest Porsches out there, but we were able to manage the pace for a long time which put us in a really good position for the end of the race. There are so many things that can happen that it only takes a small penalty to completely challenge your results, but as always we’ll take what we learned and move forward. I really appreciate the efforts from everyone at Black Swan and look forward to our next race.”
Moving on from Watkins Glen, the team remains committed to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and will return to action in just three weeks’ time at the Northeast Grand Prix , with practice beginning on July 22 and live coverage on FOX at 3PM ET on Saturday, July 23.