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.
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.
MONTEREY, Calif. (April 27, 2016)- With the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s two longest events in the record books for 2016, the team at Black Swan Racing will head in to this weekend’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a firm focus on championship form as the series moves in to the busy “sprint” season.
“Opening the season with such a strong run at Daytona was proof of our team’s potential, but we’re now headed in to a critical part of the year,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “The sprint races are where the true speed of each team shines through, and with such a competitive field, we can’t afford to make any mistakes. Having been out of this type of format for a few years, the last race Sebring brought out a few areas we need to work on, but we’ve moved on as a team and are completely focused on this weekend. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a track unlike any other, and theoretically it should be a good course for our car. We’ll of course have to see how it all shakes out when we hit the track on Friday, but we’re all excited.”
Following a difficult last race at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the crew of the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R will approach the weekend with a renewed focus having learned from a series of procedural errors. With the rolling hills of the 2.2-mile, 11-turn course favoring a smooth driving style and mid-corner speed, the team’s extensive experience at the historic California course should prove strong headed in to the first practice. No stranger to IMSA competition at the venue, the team has two consecutive podiums in the former American Le Mans Series, including a victory in 2010.
For co-driver Nicky Catsburg, a debut appearance at one of North America’s most scenic courses is a welcome opportunity. Having never been to the venue before, the Dutchman has been putting in extensive simulator time to get acclimated.
“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a course that every driver wants to visit once in their career,” stated Catsburg. “I’ve never been to the circuit, but we’ve done a lot to study the track and make sure I have a complete understanding heading in to the weekend, I don’t think it will be a problem at all. I’m very excited to finally see what this track is like to drive in person, and as the first sprint race of the year it should be quite an event.”
With the series’ four classes divided in to two races, Black Swan Racing’s GTD class will be combined with the Prototype Challenge (PC) category to close out the weekend’s events on Sunday, May 1. Live coverage will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 at 3:30PM PT for the two-hour race.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 19, 2016)- Following a caution-packed event, Black Swan Racing’s Tim Pappas used a steady approach to take second-place in class during yesterday’s Replay XD Grand Prix of Long Beach, the fifth round of the Pirelli World Challenge. His first race in the series since 2015, the Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles-adorned Viper GT3-R would finish without a scratch, providing yet another Long Beach podium for the team.
“Having not run this car in several months, we knew this weekend was going to be about a patient drive, and we hit all of our goals,” stated Pappas. “Long Beach is always such a fun event, and fortunately we were able to make the schedule work this year. With such limited track time and not a lot of chances to really get in and develop the car, I just wanted to focus on hitting my marks and staying out of trouble, fortunately it paid off and we were able to walk away with some hardware. It was a thrill to have Roscoe’s with us again this weekend, it’s such a staple of the area and we enjoy representing the local community.”
Starting from the ninth row, the No. 54 Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles Viper GT3-R of Pappas was off to a steady start when the green flag fell, avoiding incident in the notorious logjam of Turn One and proceeding on without any hiccups. Managing his time, a lap-three incident would occur right in front of Pappas, using heads-up maneuvering to avoid the carnage and continuing without a mark on the vehicle. With the tricky layout leading to a number of incidents throughout the 50-minute sprint race, Tim would continue his steady drive, slowly climbing his way through the field as the laps wound down. When the checkered flag fell, Pappas found himself second in the series’ GTA category, an impressive achievement considering he hasn’t been in either the machine nor series since 2015.
While Black Swan’s continuation in the Pirelli World Challenge is undecided, the team’s full commitment to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship will continue in just two weeks’ time, with the team taking to the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where the team looks for continued results in their No. 540 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
LONG BEACH, California (April 12, 2016)- Continuing a tradition that dates back to 2011, Black Swan Racing will make a surprise return to this weekend’s 42nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, carrying the colors of famed Southern California institution, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Competing in the Pirelli World Challenge’s GTA category, driver Tim Pappas will take to the wheel in his No. 54 Viper GT3.R as a strong supporter of the brand.
“Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is a franchise unlike any other, and we’re proud to support them.” stated Pappas. “They’ve obviously been in the news recently due to some hardships, and we wanted to step up and make sure the fans in Long Beach still had the opportunity to root for one of the most iconic brands in the area. It’ll be strange to see a giant chicken sitting on a Viper, but it’s the least we could do for Mr. Hudson and everyone in the organization.”
Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles is a Long Beach, California-based soul food restaurant chain founded by Herb Hudson, a Harlem native, in 1975. It is best known, as the name states, for serving chicken and waffles, both together and separately, although they do offer more traditional menu items as well. With the brand’s increasing popularity over the last 40 years, there are now seven restaurants throughout Southern California. The franchise boasts a celebrity clientele that dates back to Natalie Cole and Redd Foxx, and includes modern day icons such as Snoop Dogg and even President Barack Obama.
With the original restaurant located on Broadway Avenue, just a few blocks away from the Grand Prix circuit, the franchise first found its way to the race in 2011 when the company joined forces with Magnus Racing to take part in the former American Le Mans Series race. With Magnus no longer competing in categories that take part in the event, Black Swan has since taken the honor, placing the famed chicken and waffle icon on a range of vehicles including their Lola LMP2 coupe, Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3, and now Viper GT3.R.
Additionally, the team will showcase two other brands associated with Roscoe’s, Pit Bull Energy Drink and the Seabird Jazz Lounge. Pit Bull, labelled as “the official energy drink of hip hop,” can be found in any Roscoe’s as well as retailers around the country. The Seabird Jazz Lounge serves as Long Beach’s premier jazz club in the region, sharing the the same building as Roscoe’s.
The partnership for this weekend will work purely as a promotional exchange, with Black Swan Racing acting as a major supporter of the Roscoe’s story, endorsing an iconic brand that began with modest means.
Practice for the Pirelli World Challenge will begin this coming Friday, April 15, with the race taking place at 10AM on Sunday, April 17. The Black Swan Racing Roscoe’s Viper can be seen in the Pirelli World Challenge paddock, which is accessible to the public in the event’s convention center.