AUSTIN, Texas (September 5, 2017) – Looking to conclude their “SprintX” weekend on a high, Black Swan Racing drivers Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen would accomplish just that with a sweep of second place finishes during this weekend’s triple-header of events at the famed Circuit of the Americas.
With the Austin-based circuit located just 160 miles from nearby Houston, Black Swan Racing team owner Tim Pappas has also elected to donate all prize money, as well personally match it, donating a sum total of $14,890 to the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey.
“Overall we should all be very proud of the effort,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “We gave it everything we had all weekend, and from what I’m told we provided some of the most exciting action on track, and it was a lot of fun to be in the hunt like that. Finishing the SprintX season on a high like this is really fulfilling, and of course I have to thank Jeroen for being such an excellent teammate as always. The events over the last two weeks in Texas are of course at the forefront of everyone’s attention, and at the very least we want to donate our prize earnings, as well as personally match it, to the efforts.”
Driving the No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3, the race action began for the team on Friday, with the first race of the weekend serving as a make-up for a previously rained out event in Canada. Starting from pole, Jeroen Bleekemolen would get out to an early class lead, putting his machine through its paces and never under real threat from anyone within his own class. Handing the car over to Tim, an increasing threat from the second-in-class Porsche behind him continued to loom, and by the closing laps it was clear Tim had his work cut out for him. Unfortunately, heading in to the tricky Turn 12, a late move by the Porsche would send Tim wide, forcing him to give up the position and resign to second by time they reached the checkered flag.
During Saturday’s Race Two, Pappas would take on opening duties from fifth, avoiding the chaos inherent in the series, and settling in to a pace as his stint wore on. Comfortably in the top-five, Tim would eventually hand the car over, with Bleekemolen once again earned his reputation as one of the best in the business, advancing his way up to third, and eventually second when mechanical misfortune would hit the second-place Porsche.
Finally, closing out the SprintX season in Race Three, Bleekemolen would continue where he left off, opening the race running second in class, and managing the gap to the leader while preserving the car for his teammate. Pappas would actually take the reigns having inherited the lead, with the race leading Porsche having taken longer in the pits. From this point on, Pappas would push hard to keep his competitor at bay, with the duo trading corner for corner. With three laps to go, contact between the two would actually send Tim’s Mercedes for a spin, with the Porsche wisely choosing to wait for Tim to rejoin the track in order to avoid a penalty. Locked in a nose-to-tail fight for the final two laps, the ultimate straight-line pace of the Porsche would prove too much, and Tim would relinquish the lead on the long back-stretch headed in to Turn 12. He would cross the line in second, satisfied he’d done all he could.
The weekend would mark the end of the SprintX season and pairing with Jeroen Bleekemolen, however Jeroen will return to the team in October for the upcoming Eight Hours of Laguna Seca.
The Pirelli World Challenge still has one race remaining, however, returning to the traditional “sprint” format at the Grand Prix of Sonoma, where Tim will drive solo. Practice begins on Friday, September 15, with a double header of racing taking place on Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17.