ALTON, Virginia (May 1, 2017)- Wasting no time to continue the partnership that brought two successive championships together, Black Swan Racing drivers Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen took yet another class victory during Sunday’s second round of the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship.
“This was an incredible day for us,” stated Black Swan Racing co-driver Tim Pappas. “It was a total team effort this weekend. We had a wheel issue yesterday that the guys had to work through, so to come back with a car this good today was a compliment to everyone involved. Jeroen did what he does to open up the race, and once I was in I knew all I had to do was run a clean race and we’d be in good shape, and it all worked out. It’s great to be back in victory lane and be part of a great weekend for Mercedes-AMG.”
Driving the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, Pappas and Bleekemolen would team together for the first time since taking victory together in the former American Le Mans Series in 2012. While the Pirelli World Challenge is known for it’s single-driver “sprint” format, the SprintX championship brings out a unique element to the series, maintaining short distance races of 60 minutes but with two driver combinations.
During Saturday’s Race One, a mechanical issue with the left-front of the car would unfortunately thwart efforts at victory, ultimately finishing seventh after quick repairs. However, as part of the double-header event format, the fastest race lap from Race One would grid each entry for Race Two, and a blistering last lap effort by Bleekemolen would put the team on course to start from pole for Sunday’s round.
Taking the green flag for today’s Race Two, Bleekemolen would waste no time opening up a gap within the GTA class, developing a huge lead to his GTA competitors, and engaged in a stint-long battle for the overall lead with yet another Mercedes-AMG GT3. While Jeroen showed repeatedly that he likely had the pace to lead overall, the veteran’s experience would show restraint with unnecessary risk since he was racing someone that wasn’t for position, and instead settling in to a rhythm and just focusing on increasing a gap to his class competitors before pit stops.
Taking the strategic move to leave him out as long as they could, Bleekemolen would run past the halfway mark with a sizable lead, however a caution period would eliminate much of the gap before the car would be handed over to his teammate for the end. From that point, Tim knew the race was in his hands and he simply had to control his pace, which he did masterfully as he cruised to the checkered flag.
This would serve as the first Pirelli World Challenge win for Black Swan Racing since 2015, and the 11th professional win for the pairing of Pappas and Bleekemolen.
“It was great to be back with the team and take another win,” stated Bleekemolen. “Black Swan Racing has played such a big part of my career, and to take another victory today was really great. The car was fast all weekend and we knew we could take a win if we kept clean, and we did just that. Tim drove a very patient stint and we’re all very happy with the result.”
With the middle of the season now in full swing, the next round of Pirelli World Challenge competition will continue with the second weekend of SprintX competition, heading north of the border at the famed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Race action will take place in three weeks’ time, on Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21.
BOSTON (April 21, 2017)- Returning to a lineup that amassed two championships, as well victories at some of the most storied venues in the sport, Black Swan Racing is pleased to announce the return of Jeroen Bleekemolen to the team for the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship. Pairing with season-long driver Tim Pappas, the duo will embark on conquering the series’ Pro-Am category, looking for further victory in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. The first two races of the SprintX season will begin at next weekend’s Grand Prix of VIR, taking place at the scenic VIRginia International Raceway.
“It’s great to have Jeroen back with us,” stated team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “The SprintX format give us a unique opportunity to bring in a second driver for an all-out push to the finish, and Jeroen couldn’t be a better fit. Not only did many of our greatest accomplishments come with him joining us, but he’s had a lot of experience with the car and should be able to provide valuable insight. We’re all very glad to see him return, and hopefully we can add another chapter of success to the team.”
No stranger to success, Bleekemolen first arrived on the U.S. scene in 2010, with Black Swan Racing and Tim Pappas providing his first full-season home in the former American Le Mans Series GTC ranks. Wasting no time to deliver results, the duo would go on to have a landmark series of years, dominating the category from 2010-2011 with nine victories en route to successive championships, including wins at Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
Since that time, the pair have gone on to run in a variety of cars and categories, with Bleekemolen taking another championship in the GTC ranks in 2013, and most recently taking yet another Sebring victory in March with the venerable Mercedes-AMG GT3.
With a strong wave of momentum, the addition of Bleekemolen is just the latest in an increasingly strong roster of drivers in the Pirelli World Challenge’s SprintX championship. A 10-race series that combines the heritage of endurance racing with the excitement of sprint racing, the schedule will feature a double-header weekend of 60-minute races, with each driver taking his turn during a portion of that. This presents a dynamic unlike any other, as drivers will have to share the car and adapt to each other’s setup needs, but with extremely limited time to make up ground.
For Bleekemolen, a return to a familiar home is a welcome one.
“It’s great to be back with Black Swan Racing,” stated Bleekemolen. “The SprintX championship is a unique approach to multi-driver racing, and it should be interesting to compete in an all-out sprint. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has repeatedly proven to be a great car in categories all over the world, and we hope to have the same success here. I really appreciate the opportunity from Tim and the whole team, they played an instrumental role in beginning my U.S. career.”
Practice at VIRginia International Raceway begins one week from today, Friday April 28 through Sunday, April 30. Stay tuned to the team’s social media channels for further information on the availability of live streaming and broadcast.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 14, 2017)- Returning to a full season of Pirelli World Challenge competition in 2017, Black Swan Racing’s debut with the venerable Mercedes-AMG GT3 would show a lot of promise during this past weekend’s season opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Taking to their first race in the new machine, the team would manage an incident-free weekend, taking class finishes of fifth and seventh respectively.
“Overall we made a lot of progress with the Mercedes-AMG GT3,” stated team owner and driver Tim Pappas. “This car is a lot of fun to drive. It has tremendous grip, great balance, a lot of torque, and generally should be a good all-around car for the full season. So far in testing, and now the race, we’ve learned a lot, and as we continue in to 2017 I’m sure we’ll only get stronger. There were definitely a lot of positives on the weekend, not least of which was the quality of competition that the Pirelli World Challenge has on offer. Both the GT and GTA categories have some really strong lineups, and it makes these events very enjoyable to be a part of. We definitely had a few setbacks in understanding the setup and changing track conditions, but this is all part of the learning curve and we’ll head to Long Beach even stronger.”
After a strong series of practice sessions, a setback in qualifying would place the Boston native seventh in class for Saturday’s Race One. Understanding a patient drive in the No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 would be crucial to set the stage for a strong Race Two, Tim would run a cautious but strong first race. Overtaking multiple cars throughout his debut run, Pappas would enjoy a mistake-free event, taking fifth in class.
With his Saturday pace placing him on the grid in fifth Sunday’s Race Two, an impressive start would earn the ‘best start’ award for the race, however the challenges of changing track conditions would unfortunately set the No. 54 back in the opening laps, with Tim doing his best to get a handle on what he needed to adjust as the race went on. Luckily, the experience of the former ALMS-series champion would shine as the race entered its second half, with Pappas getting a handle on his machine to set his fastest lap of the weekend en route to seventh in class.
Looking to return to their podium ways, all focus will now set on to the Grand Prix of Long Beach, serving as not only the hallmark event of the series, but a site where the team has earned victory in the former American Le Mans Series. Practice begins on Friday, April 7, with the series’ single-race taking place on the morning of Sunday, April 9.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 5, 2017)- Following a promising opening weekend to their 2017 Pirelli World Challenge campaign at St. Petersburg, Black Swan Racing will return to action during this weekend’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, one of the most iconic venues of the year.
“Returning to Long Beach is something we look forward to every year,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and driver Tim Pappas. “It’s a venue unlike any other, and with a history and iconic status that you can’t help but get excited about. The circuit itself always provides an interesting blend of technical and challenging corners, and with our new car it will be interesting to see how we fair. Our race at St. Petersburg was a really good learning experience for all of us, as there’s so many elements to consider with track conditions, tire management, and beyond. This serves in many ways as a home race for us, and we really want to do well in front of our home crowd.”
While a native of Boston, the Grand Prix of Long Beach serves as a semi “home race” for Pappas, who resides part-time in nearby Los Angeles. A veteran of the event, Tim has competed in numerous cars and categories at Long Beach over the decades, including victory in 2010 with the former American Le Mans Series.
Driving the No. 54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the fist time on the 1.9-mile, 11-turn city street course, the long straights combined with tight, bumpy corners should provide an interesting challenge among both the team and competitors. While it remains to be seen which cars the configuration will favor, confidence is high that gains made at St. Petersburg and in private testing should suit the marque well, as Pappas continues to search for podium results.
Competing in the Pirelli World Challenge GTA category, the experience gained from previous years should suit the team well, with all eyes on maximizing practice and qualifying given the short nature of the race, as well as the high likelihood of caution periods eating up valuable track time.
Practice for the Grand Prix of Long Beach will begin this Friday, April 7, with the race taking place on Sunday, April 9. Same-day television coverage will be available on CBS Sports Network at 2:30 PM ET, with continuous updates via the team’s Instagram (@blackswanperformance) Twitter (@BlkSwnRcng) and Facebook accounts (Black Swan Racing).
BOSTON (July 20, 2016)- Considered a home race for the Boston-based team, Black Swan Racing will return to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition during this weekend’s Northeast Grand Prix, the seventh round of the GT Daytona (GTD) category. Additionally, Andy Pilgrim will step in for this Saturday’s race as an extension of his efforts in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Championship.
“Having Andy with us at Lime Rock will be a great addition,” stated Black Swan Racing team principal and co-driver Tim Pappas. “Considering how notorious this track is, having someone with his experience and patience will be an invaluable addition, and with a little bit of perseverance I think we can perform well. This is one of those races where you never really know what can happen, and if we can manage the attrition we can be there at the end.”
Located in scenic Lakeville, Connecticut the 1.5-mile circuit is most known for its close racing which often lead to frequent incidents. The smallest length of the entire IMSA circuit, pit strategy is often more critical than at other venues, something which should play in to the hands of the experienced crew of the No. 540 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
For Andy Pilgrim, returning to the team for his first sprint race of 2016, the opportunity to race at such a storied site is a welcome one.
“Lime Rock is always one of those races that you really have to be aware of your surroundings,” stated Pilgrim. “Things happen so quickly there that you can never really relax, but I think that should play well for everyone at Black Swan. There’s a lot of experience within the team, and at a track like this it’s something that is a major advantage so we’re all hoping for a good result. It’s great to be back with the team for another race, and while it’s all come together pretty quickly I’m hopeful I can pay them back with a strong run.”
The Northeast Grand Prix will take place this Saturday, July 23, with coverage on FOX at 3PM ET.