BOSTON, Mass. (March 14, 2016)- Following an incredible fight to the finish during the Rolex 24 at Daytona just seven weeks ago, Black Swan Racing will head this weekend’s 64th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in pursuit of their second victory at the famed event.
“There is no event in the world like Sebring,” stated Black Swan Racing team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “We were lucky enough to win it in 2011, but the level of competition is incredibly high this year, and we’re well aware of the challenge ahead. I think we proved our strength as a team at Daytona this year, had we had just one more lap it would have been a completely different result, and we’re bringing that momentum with us. The team has been hard at work in testing and preparation, and we’re as ready as ever.”
Serving as the second round of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well as Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Championship, the team heads in to the event as a return of sorts, having been out of IMSA competition for three years before bringing the No. 540 Porsche 911 GT3 R to Daytona in January. Showing the strength of the former two-time series champions, the team proved to be the strongest Porsche during the Rolex 24, finishing second just three seconds away from victory.
Having competed for the last four years in a variety of machines, the Black Swan team will return to Sebring with Porsche, the marque with which they took their 2011 victory. Serving as an airbase during WWII, the long and bumpy surface makes for one of the most unique visits on the calendar, with many features of the 3.74-mile course remaining unchanged in the track’s 64-year history. With the bumps and surface changes creating what is arguably the toughest challenge on both driver and equipment throughout the season, the team will draw on the vast experience of both drivers and crew to bolster their chances.
Opting to keep the team consistent, the Daytona lineup of Pappas and full-season co-driver Nicky Catsburg will once again be joined by Porsche factory driver Patrick Long as well as sportscar veteran Andy Pilgrim.
Catsburg, a winner of multiple endurance events around the world, will actually be making his debut at the famed 12 Hour. No stranger to the requirements of endurance racing, the Dutchman looks forward to the challenge.
“I’m very excited to finally race in Sebring,” stated Catsburg. “The event has so much history, and so many great drivers and teams have won there, that it’s definitely an event we all want to win. Everyone at Black Swan Racing did an amazing job at Daytona, and there’s no reason to think we can’t have a similar result at Sebring. We have an incredibly strong driver lineup, but obviously it’s a very competitive field, so who knows what can happen. I’m very confident we can all show well.”
Long, a former winner of the event, joins the team fully aware of the challenges ahead.
“Sebring is one of those places that you really have to respect,” stated the American. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win here, but I’ve also seen how easy it is for things to bite you, and we’re lucky that we have an extraordinary crew and group of drivers who have all been here before and know what to expect. It should be an interesting race and a lot of strategy at play, with a field this strong it’s going to be a tough race all the way to the end. I’m looking forward to it, and thankful to everyone at the team for the opportunity.”
For Pilgrim, yet another former Sebring winner, adding another victory at the “12 Hour” would be a special moment for the sportscar veteran.
“It’s great to be back at Sebring. Having won the 12 Hour before, I am looking forward to pushing hard for another win,” stated Pilgrim. “This race is a physical all around. It's tough on the drivers as well as on the car. A lot of race tracks get updates and manicures every year to keep up appearances, but not Sebring. Coming back here is like coming back to a craggy old mountain, you love it or hate it for what it is, but it doesn't change and you'd better be ready. The GTD class is very competitive and deep, nobody in Black Swan is taking that lightly, we will be prepared come Saturday. Our result at Daytona is a good testament to our team’s ability, we look to improve on that at Sebring.”
Official practice for the event takes place this Thursday, March 17, with the race beginning at 10:40AM on Saturday, March 19 and ending 12 hours later. Broadcast coverage within the US will run as follows:
10:30AM ET: Fox Sports 1
12:00PM ET: Fox Sports 2
7:00PM ET: IMSA.com
10:00PM ET: Fox Sports 2
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 2, 2016) - Following a hard-fought 24 hours during this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Black Swan Racing narrowly missed victory by three seconds during the twice-around-the-clock event. Serving as the team’s return to IMSA competition, it would mark an impressive debut for the team who used a combination of faultless driving and clever strategy to take the podium.
“It’s always bittersweet to finish second at Daytona,” stated team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “It’s disappointing to come that close to victory, but at the same time I think we showed just how strong we are and this bodes incredibly well for the season.”
Opting to run a different strategy than most of their competitors, the team would actually start the race in 20th opting to cycle their silver-rated drivers first.
With the team setting a strong focus on drivers Patrick Long and Nicky Catsburg running finishing duties, the first half of the twice-around-the-clock-classic would focus on setting the No. 540 Porsche GT3 R up for the finish.
Having not competed with Porsche machinery since 2012, the team was seamless in their transition, a clear showcase of off-season preparation headed in to the event.
With some of the most experienced drivers in the field, it was up to Tim Pappas and Andy Pilgrim to drive a good portion of the first half, with Long and Catsburg sporadically jumping in to gauge the team’s pace.
As the day fell into night, the team’s faultless run was evident as the hours clicked off with the team very quietly positioning as a contender.
When the sun rose and the team remained faultless, the opportunity for success became evident. With attention shifting to the end, the team would run Patrick Long through his maximum driver time setting the stage for full-season driver Nicky Catsburg to take the car to the finish.
Unfortunately, with two hours to go and Catsburg in, all focus turned to fuel strategy. Should there be no yellows, the remaining time was just outside the window for one more pit stop, meaning the No. 540 would need to consider a “splash and go” during the final hour if there were no yellows.
As the race unfolded, that very scenario presented itself with the Black Swan crew opting to bring their machine in for a splash of fuel, meanwhile the race leading No. 44 Audi went the opposite direction, staying out and driving super conservative to the end.
With Catsburg able to drive flat out, all focus turned to chasing down the conservative No. 44 Audi R8 LMS, trimming the gap down from 45 seconds to three by the end, however, Nicky would simply run out of time as he would cross the line in second.
“While there is some disappointment, ultimately I’m happy with the result,” stated Catsburg. “This team has worked very hard to learn the new Porsche, and they performed flawlessly. This was very much a team effort, and looking forward to the rest of the year I feel we will be very strong.”
For Porsche factory driver Patrick Long, a similar sentiment is shared.
“The whole team at Black Swan Racing was very impressive given limited time with the car,” stated Long. “I have no doubt this team will be a championship contender, they proved it throughout the whole 24 hours.”
For Andy Pilgrim, his return to Daytona was a memorable one.
“Overall I think I can be happy with the result,” stated Pilgrim. “Finishing second, that close to first, is always going to sting a little bit, but I think everyone on this team should be satisfied. This entire Black Swan team acted like they’ve known the car for years, which is a great sign for their championship goals.”
While the next race is not for another seven weeks at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, there is little down time for both Black Swan and the entire series as there is an upcoming Sebring test in just a couple weeks, as well as several other prep items for the team.
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 31, 2016)- Following a hard-fought 24 hours for the entire crew of the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, driver Nicky Catsburg came within three seconds of winning the GT Daytona class of this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, kicking off their IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship effort with a second-place finish.
Following a quiet and steady run throughout the event, drivers Tim Pappas, Nicky Catsburg, Patrick Long and Andy Pilgrim never put a foot wrong, with alternating fuel strategies playing a critical role in what would be one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the event. Following a late-race pit stop, Catsburg would trim a nearly 45-second gap over just a matter of minutes, driving at his maximum but simply running out of time to eventually catch the race winner.
“It’s bittersweet because we should all be incredibly proud of the job we did,” stated Black Swan Racing driver and team principal Tim Pappas. “Coming that close to victory was definitely heart wrenching, but considering this was our first race back in the new series, with an all-new car, we should all be very proud of the job we did. This bodes incredibly well for our season, and we’re definitely off on the right foot.”
A full report will follow tomorrow.
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 28, 2015) – With Black Swan Racing not only returning to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship but also Porsche in 2016, the team is happy to announce yet another partnership in advance of this weekend’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, Champion Porsche. A revered brand both within the motorsport community as well as Florida’s most recognized Porsche dealership, it’s a fitting pair headed in to Saturday's twice-around-the-clock classic.
“It’s great to have Champion on board with us for Daytona,” stated Black Swan Racing team principal and co-driver Tim Pappas. “When it comes to racing at Daytona, they’re a great partner and brand to have join us, and I know we’ll represent them well. Champion has such a rich history in sportscar racing, we’re proud to be a part of that, and come Saturday we plan to add to their success. We had a great test at the Roar, and between the team’s preparation and an amazing driver line-up, we’re as ready as we can be.”
After three years in another series with different manufacturers, Black Swan is proud to return to the current iteration of IMSA competition in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R. The team enjoyed successive championships in 2010 and 2011 in the former American Le Mans Series, including victories at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, and look to repeat the same feat in their return to IMSA and Porsche this year.
Pompano Beach, Florida-based Champion Porsche, meanwhile, has enjoyed its own history within the sport. The Porsche and Audi dealership actually started its own racing team in 2001, Champion Racing, under the tutelage of company principal Dave Maraj who lead his organization to nine consecutive American Le Mans Series championships as well as victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Off the track, Champion remains “the” destination for all things Porsche. Founded in 1987, the team is currently the number one Porsche dealer in all of the U.S., having been the largest volume Porsche dealer for 29 years. From Porsche Driver’s Selection gear to Porsche equipment accessories, Champion’s boutique carries a large selection of items on hand for all your shopping needs. Whether a classic or modern Porsche, the knowledgeable staff in their parts department will be able to help find what you need. Champion’s parts department also carries one of the largest inventory of factory Porsche parts around, as well as the largest inventory of Porsche approved tires in the entire southeast region.
With the Rolex 24 at Daytona just days away, the entire Black Swan Racing team is as prepared as they can be, with one of the strongest lineups in the GT Daytona (GTD) class field. With two former winners in Porsche factory driver Patrick Long as well as Andy Pilgrim, as well as Tim Pappas and endurance racing standout Nicky Catsburg, the team proved instant pace in testing, and looks to add to their rich history this weekend.
Broadcast coverage begins at 2PM this Saturday, January 30, full details listed below.
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 11, 2016) - With the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R marking its official return to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition during the annual ROAR Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the two-time American LeMans Series championship-winning team proved that it’s as formidable as ever. Taking part in the annual pre-season test before the opening event, The Rolex 24 at Daytona, the team was able to consistently set times among the top GT Daytona (GTD) category competitors, proving their stature within an incredibly tight field.
Setting a time of 1:48.281, which was within a half-second of the weekend’s top time and and with five different manufacturers all setting similar lap times, the team ran with virtually no hiccups, rotating drivers Tim Pappas, Nicky Catsburg, Patrick Long and Andy Pilgrim through six different sessions. With all four drivers setting impressive lap times, the focus turned to both setup and reliability which was met with zero difficulty, sending a strong message about their race prospects.
“The team has been working very hard to get ready for this month, and I’m glad to see it beginning to pay off,” stated team owner and co-driver Tim Pappas. “Any time you come to this event with a new car you’re never sure of what to expect, but our weekend went more or less according to plan, so we’re all confident heading in to the race. Nicky, Patrick and Andy were all as strong as you’d expect, there’s not a weak link on this team. The guys have been working incredibly hard during the winter, and headed to the 24 we’re as prepared as we can be.”
For teammate Nicky Catsburg, a similar feeling is shared.
“This was the first time the entire team was able to run together, and it was incredibly smooth. This is a great team and a great driver lineup, and I think we quietly proved that we will be a contender in a couple weeks. This year’s Daytona 24 should be a very special event, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”
For Patrick Long, pursuing his second victory at the famed race, the signs of a good event were present during the test.
“You always look for a calm, organized approach headed in to Daytona, and that was very present within the team. There is a lot of experienced and known people under the tent here, and you can really see that with how orderly the weekend went. The new Porsche 911 GT3 R is an incredibly strong car, and between that and our lineup this team should be a true contender for the 24.”
Finally, pursuing his fourth win at the event, sportscar veteran Andy Pilgrim’s return to Porsche machinery proved as smooth as anticipated.
“This should be an excellent car for Daytona, and the team did a great job running us through the weekend,” stated the 2004 overall winner. “This is a new car for everyone, but you wouldn’t have known it the way we ran through the program, I have to give all credit to the team and the preparation heading in. I really enjoyed the new Porsche, and I think headed in to the 24, we have as good of a shot as anybody. It’s an incredibly tight field, so who knows how any of this will shake out, but this team will be as prepared as can be.”
With only a couple weeks between the test and the race, the entire WeatherTech championship is hard at work getting both car and team ready for the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona. As both the season-opener and the biggest race of the year, there is a lot at stake for everyone on the team, who will take to competition on Saturday, January 30. A full team preview, including television details, will be announced shortly.