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2014 After Watkins Glen
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1 Christian Fittipaldi 31
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19 Wayne Taylor 15
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20 John Martin 14

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2 Ford 34
3 Nissan 28
4 Honda 26
5 Mazda 18
ALMS REWIND: Black Swan Racing

Reviewing 2011 with reigning GTC champion
Monday, October 24, 2011

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The 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n delivered another GT Challenge (GTC) championship for Black Swan Racing (BSR) and team owner Tim Pappas. The Boston-based team and its owner won five times on the season including ALMS cornerstone events Sebring to open the year and Road Atlanta to close it. Pappas talks us through 2011 and a preview of what might be to come in 2012.

ALMS: Was this a more difficult season than 2010 for Black Swan?
Pappas:
2011 was by far a more difficult season for Black Swan because the competition in GTC was more consistent. In 2010, Alex Job Racing had its two front-running cars pull out of the series after Utah, which allowed BSR to put itself in position to lead the championship. By Mid-Ohio, the team took the lead and never looked back. In 2011, BSR fought hard with Alex Job and TRG, trading the lead in the team championship with TRG during the season. Though we maintained the lead in the GTC drivers championship all season, it was nonetheless a season of hard, close racing. NGT and Magnus provided some additional gravity to the series, but succeeded in hurting the other teams more than BSR. All in all, Black Swan’s participation raised the bar and the competition stood up to the challenge.

ALMS: Where did the foundation for BSR originate?
Pappas:
Black Swan Racing was originally started in 2008 with our Ford GT program. In the years prior, I was racing under Trans Sport Racing, part of a transportation and logistics service that was offered to international teams coming to the U.S. However, with the economy slowing around the globe, fewer teams were making the trip to the big U.S. events which caused me to ultimately close TSR following the 2007 season. In starting Black Swan, I brought together the best people that I met with Trans Sport, the best equipment, and opened a shop outside Boston rather than sub-contracting services from a team in Florida. I was told that I could never do it myself, which is why I wanted to set up my own team – to prove that I could and to prove that we could be successful.

ALMS: What’s the lasting memory you’ll have of the 2011 for Black Swan?
Pappas:
By far it will be Baltimore – a new venue for ALMS, so no advantage for any team and BSR dominated the weekend, setting pole after an amazing performance by Jeroen (Bleekemolen, Pappas’ co-driver) and then leading flag-to-flag. Though we’ve won that way before, for some reason I felt like we had our backs against the wall.

ALMS: What was the team’s signature race in 2011?
Pappas:
Our signature race was Petit Le Mans because we set a goal in 2010 to win Petit after narrowly losing the race in the last few laps when our car developed an electrical problem. We were very close on engine hours in 2010, but due to budget we pushed way beyond the recommended limits and that almost cost us everything. In 2011, we built everything new and raced a really hard battle to win the race and both championships (team and driver), achieving a huge goal in process: taking the two biggest endurance races of the year with Sebring and Petit. Plus, I think as a class we proved that GTC belongs in that race, and every race for that matter.

ALMS: I know you’ve said the desire is to potentially move up in class for 2012. Can you give your fans a hint or two?
Pappas:
We’re looking at a lot of options for 2012. One thing I can say for sure is that we will not be back in GTC next year – not because we want to leave Porsche or because the racing isn’t good. To the contrary, it’s a great class with some top-level drivers and teams, and it was an honor to win while driving a Porsche, a brand that I have loved since before I could drive. We’ve achieved every goal I set – winning the biggest races and in fact, winning all the races except Lime Rock and Mosport over two seasons. We want a different challenge for next year, but as of now, I have no idea what that might be. But it will be in the American Le Mans Series or nowhere at all.

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