Black Swan Racing dives into LMP2 class After two exceptional seasons in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n`s GT Challenge category, Black Swan Racing owner Tim Pappas is eyeing LMP2 for 2012. Pappas and teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen recently tested an Oak-Pescarolo from Oak Racing at Sebring International Raceway as the two-time defending GTC Champion begins the process of selecting a chassis and engine combination to contest the 2012 season.
"This is the first time I`ve driven anything out of a GT car, showroom stock or similar production-based car," Pappas said following the test. "It was incredible. I`ve never had anything that had that level of downforce and technical aspects. It`s still just unbelievable.
"I think most people, who would look at a prototype car from a fan`s perspective, would be incredibly surprised at how easy these cars are to drive."
Aiming to make his choice between Oak-Pescarolo or Lola before the year is out, Pappas along with co-driver Bleekemolen, tested Oak Racing`s LMP1-class Oak-Pescarolo Judd on Dunlop tires at Sebring.
"The Oak Racing P2 car is still under development," Pappas said. "We drove the P1 car, but I`d imagine there are a lot of similarities in the chassis construction and other elements. There is a lot of technology in those cars for the price."
Technology and price are big motivators in Pappas` move to LMP2. Though he has enjoyed the level of competition in GTC the past two seasons, Pappas - a successful real estate and property development CEO - always viewed Black Swan Racing`s GTC effort as a stepping stone to a bigger program. While GT may seem like the natural next step and offers world-class competition, Pappas recognized LMP2 as a better fit for Black Swan Racing.
"The backbone of sports car racing has been the enthusiast like myself who has a career outside motorsports but has a passion and desire to pursue their racing goals - contending for race wins and championships," he said. "The level of competition in GT right now is unbelievable and probably the best in the world, but it`s not the place for a guy like me. We want to go head-to-head with other top independent teams with perhaps a manufacturer relationship and technical support. These cars have a cost structure that is fixed thanks to the rules. You don`t have to take them and spend thousands of dollars to develop them and become competitive. You could, but that`s not what this class is about."
According to Pappas, all signs indicate that LMP2 is on a path for growth - a path that Black Swan Racing has chosen to follow upon reaching a critical crossroads.
"I firmly believe that things happen for a reason," he said. "This class has come together nicely with a stable rules platform, cost caps and support from multiple manufacturers. LMP2 in the ALMS was an unbelievable class only a few years ago. Hopefully a stable platform and a Pro-Am combination can help guys like me - who don`t race full-time but have a passion for racing - contend for championships.
"There are a couple of factions within BSR that viewed this different. Some guys have elected to leave for more opportunities in GTC, and that`s fine. The core of our team is excited to get a look at prototype cars and ready for something outside our comfort zone. Prototype cars are a dream for me and now it`s a dream that`s coming true with this cost-capped structure and Pro-Am settings."
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