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.
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.