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.
SEBRING, Florida (March 22, 2016)- Despite running strong times, making no mistakes on track, as well as having zero mechanical issues, Black Swan Racing endured a difficult day during Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to finish 13th in the GTD category. After receiving two separate penalties for a total of eight minutes, the team retains fourth place in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well as fifth in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Championship.
“It’s frustrating to run as well as we did and still finish 13th,” stated team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “Sebring is a unique track, but hopefully the challenges we had there will accelerate our learning curve. There’s no beating around it, we made mistakes and they cost us, but we’ll grow from it and move on to the next event. The good thing is on-track we were once again very strong, our pit stops were flawless, and the car was mechanically sound. That plays a strong omen for us as we head in to the remaining nine rounds of the season, and there’s no doubt we’ll be in great shape for the season.”
With Pappas electing to take starting duties, the team made an early decision to run the Massachusetts native through all three hours of his required drive-time, clearing the way for co-drivers Andy Pilgrim, Patrick Long and Nicky Catsburg to drive the remainder of the race. Running error-free, Pappas kept a clean and consistent pace throughout his opening two stints, never putting a foot wrong and quietly managing the car for his co-drivers.
Unfortunately, a caution period late in to his second stint would cause confusion within the team, ultimately leading to the first of their two penalties. Under series rule when under caution, any car in front of the first class-leading car after pit stops can proceed with what’s known as a wave-by, once allowed, where all cars may pass the pace car and re-catch the back of the field, effectively gaining a lap in the process. Under the confusion of multiple cars in different classes making pit stops, the team mistakenly informed Pappas he was cleared to begin a wave-by, which later proved to be incorrect.
The team was eventually called in for a “stop-and-hold” penalty of four minutes.
With Pappas now two laps down as a result, the team would endure the first of two major setbacks in their “12 Hour.”
As his stint came to a close, the race would actually be stopped for two-hours and 15 minutes due to lightning in the area, forfeiting a major opportunity for the team to make up lost ground.
Once the race resumed, it was now up to Andy Pilgrim to carry out his part of the race, doing a masterful job in wet conditions to climb through the field, once again driving without any mistakes and handing the car over to Patrick Long as they passed the halfway point in the race.
With Long now in the car, the team knew that they had strong opportunity to make up time and hopefully find themselves back on the lead lap. However, as Long’s stint progressed, confusion within the team would lead to yet another mistaken call, again on an improper wave-by.
The result was Long would suffer his own stop-and-hold, once again for four minutes, ending all hope of contention for the team.
By this point, the team simply turned to managing their time to the end, putting in Catsburg in for the final two hours, where he would drive a patient session en route to their 13th place finish.
For Catsburg, a challenging event was underscored by the quality of the team.
“An unfortunate day for sure, but there are many great moments from the weekend,” stated Catsburg. “The team did a great job preparing for the event, the car was good, and I think you can see how strong we were between our quality lap times and running without any technical issues. Unfortunately we made two critical mistakes and that cost us, but we will learn and get better as a group.”
For Long, a similar sentiment is shared.
“No one wants to see a race go this way, but it’s the first time the team has been here in several years so it’s understandable,” stated Long. “It’s a very complex system, and combined with the red flag I think a lot of teams were knocked off their normal rhythm. The quality of the team is definitely there. We had a well prepared car, excellent pit stops, and everything was present to have done well. Mistakes happen, and I have no doubt that the team will only get stronger. I’m very proud of what a strong and reliable car we ran.”
For Pilgrim, a chance to return to Sebring was a welcome one.
“We did not get the finishing result we wanted, but we can take so many positives away from the weekend,” stated Pilgrim. “Sebring is massive undertaking and we can take away many more positives than negatives. The car ran flawlessly again, the crew were textbook with every pit stop, the drivers did their part, and the car coming home with barely a scratch on it meant we at least walked away with decent points. This race is one of the toughest in the world and I think we can be proud of the week as a whole. It's a very long season and the team will be better for this experience moving forward. Onward and upward from here.
With the second of four endurance races now behind, the team will turn their attention to the first “sprint” race of the year, the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda, taking place at the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Practice begins on Friday, April 29, with the race occurring on Sunday, May 1.
SEBRING, Florida (March 20, 2016)- With challenges ranging from constantly changing weather, to long cautions, to race penalties and more, the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 R would endure a difficult day during yesterday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. While the team consistently showed as one of the fastest cars in the GTD category, an early-race penalty would end prove costly, forcing the team to go down several laps and ultimately proving insurmountable.
Despite the numerous obstacles, the lineup of Tim Pappas, Nicky Catsburg, Andy Pilgrim and Patrick Long would still manage to see the checkered flag, ultimately being classified in 13th. The team remains a strong championship contender in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with many of the teams from Daytona and Sebring having a reversal of fortune from their previous event.
A full report will follow shortly.