BLACK SWAN RACING BACK IN ACTION, PLANS FULL GTC PROGRAM
Damien Faulkner joining Pappas while Bleekemolen on LMP1 duty
Black Swan Racing owner and driver Tim Pappas announced today the team is set to defend its GT Challenge championship in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrуn. Some familiar names - both on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and in the cockpit - will greet fans at the season-opening round at Sebring.
Black Swan Racing will continue its partnerships with KW Suspension and Project Mu, as well as Renewable Choice Energy, which will be the fourth year of the partnership with the carbon-offset provider. "I am most proud of the fact that all of our partners, both commercial and technical, will return for 2011," Pappas said. "It's a testament to how hard we work to keep our supporters engaged both on and off the track. I am looking forward to announcing some great new partners for the upcoming season as we defend our team and drivers titles. 2011 is going to be a tough year for GTC with a lot of great teams, but we're ready to prove that our wins last year were not a fluke."
One change that was not originally planned is the loss of team co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen for four races in 2011. Bleekemolen's schedule in 2011 includes races in several different series and will now feature an LMP1 entry to Le Mans, Sebring and Petit Le Mans in Rebellion Racing's Lola- Toyota. Though the team was disappointed about losing its ace, the chance to drive an LMP1 car was the kind of opportunity neither side could allow to pass.
"When Jeroen asked me to allow him to leave I was initially bummed because he's the best GT driver I have ever seen and I consider him irreplaceable," Pappas said. "But when he explained the opportunity, I knew I had to let him go. In the end we are friends and I want the best for his career and family. I wish him the best for 2011 and we will certainly have a blast at the races where he'll join us."
In his place, the team has hired Porsche Cup ace Damien Faulkner, a man whose resume is as impressive as any in the racing 911. Bleekemolen was instrumental in selecting his substitute and is confident that his sparring partner from Supercup will help defend the GTC title.
"My agreement to run in LMP with Rebellion Racing came so late in the season that I knew I had a responsibility to make sure that Black Swan was in a good position to win in the races I have to miss. I have raced against Damien and feel that he is the best person for the job," said Bleekemolen.
Pappas says he feels in better shape than ever as the start of the ALMS season approaches. He was part of a BSR entry that led in class at the Daytona 24 Hours and ran second when it was forced to retire in the 20th hour due to incidental contact.
He also traveled to Dubai to take part in the Dunlop Dubai 24 Hours, finishing 12th in a new Mercedes SLS GT3.
"I purposely chose to take part in two endurance races in January so that by the time the ALMS kicks off at Sebring, I'll be in great shape," Pappas said. "Some guys are using simulators and working out, but by adding actual racing miles to my regimen I think I will have an advantage over my competitors that haven't had a chance to run since last year, save for some testing."
The American Le Mans Series' annual Winter Test is set for February 9-10 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. General admission tickets to the Winter Test are $10 per day with no paddock admission or overnight camping.
The first race for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrуn is the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 19.
-source: black swan racing/alms