• COTA Continuation. Hargrove Extends PWC Points Lead in Pfaff Porsche. • New Swan. Jeff Ward Returns with Porsche, Black Swan at Long Beach.
Event Story Lines.
COTA Continuation. Hargrove Extends PWC Points Lead in Pfaff Porsche.
While Scott Hargrove may be a Pirelli World Challenge rookie, you’d never know it from the early season results. Following four races – two in the 50-minute, single-driver “sprint” format and two in the 60-minute, two-driver “SprintX” system – the Canadian and his No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R have two overall victories (Rounds One and Two at St. Petersburg, Florida), a third-place finish (Race 2 at the Circuit of the Americas) and a fourth-place (Race 1 at COTA). This places the first-year contestants in North America’s premier sprint format GT series at the top of the Overall GT Driver and Team standings leaving the Austin, Texas-area track.
Hargrove, a Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate and two-time IMSA Porsche Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama champion, teamed with former Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) to lead the four Porsche customer teams in this weekend’s SprintX Championship season-opening rounds in Austin. While not the commanding performance of two victories like Hargrove enjoyed in Florida, the effort by the two drivers keeps the Canadian team in contention for each of the three available titles: Overall, Sprint and SprintX. In 2017, Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) drove the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to the Sprint and Overall Championships helping to give Porsche the Manufacturer’s trophy as well.
Alegra Motorsports, also making their PWC debut in 2018, finished in sixth-position in both of the GT SX class races in Texas. Porsche “works” driver and full-season pilot for the Florida-based operation Michael Christensen (Denmark) teamed with Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia) in the No. 24 Porsche 911 GT3 R prepared by the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona GTD-class-winning Alegra effort.
Black Swan Racing earned a podium finish in the Pro-Am class in Saturday’s 60-minute race. Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (Belgium) finished in third-place, ninth-overall, in the class. The following day, the pairing drove the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R to fifth-place in class, twelfth-overall.
GMG Racing made its return to the GT class with Porsche at COTA. The No. 41 entry shared by Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France) and home-state ace Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas) was a late entry for the race. Udell, the 2016 PWC GT Cup Champion and Porsche Young Driver Academy alum, quickly moved up from deep in the field on Saturday to as high as second-place. However, the team’s opportunity ended after the mandated driver change and four-tire pit stop at the race’s midpoint. When Jaminet returned the car to the track, a competitor made hard contact with the Porsche at the pit exit. The damage was severe enough to park the car in Round 1 and resulted in a previously undiagnosed power steering issue for Round 2. The car finished in a seventh-place.
The Pirelli World Challenge will return to the Sprint format, April 13 – 15 at the ‘Grandfather of American Street Courses’, the Grand Prix of Long Beach in California.
New Swan. Jeff Ward Returns with Porsche, Black Swan at Long Beach.
Continuing a 2018 season that has encapsulated a highlight-list of racing events around the globe, Black Swan Racing will return to the streets of Long Beach, California with a two-car entry at the upcoming Grand Prix of Long Beach. While Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) will return to the downtown circuit in his trademark No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R, the team will also welcome the entry of a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in the newly-announced GTS-invitational class, driven by seven-time American Motorcycle Association (AMA) champion and IndyCar winner Jeff Ward.
No stranger to success in motorsport, Ward joins as a legend of both two wheels and four. A five-time AMA Motocross Champion, two-time AMA Supercross champion, Indy-car race winner, Indianapolis 500 runner-up and even a two-time X-Games winner, Ward will make his sportscar debut at one of the most storied events in road racing.
The effort will mark the next step in Black Swan Racing’s 2018 adventures, part of a globe-hopping adventure that will see the team run all four rounds of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, as well as the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX championship. This will mark the third year for the team and their Porsche 911 GT3 R program, which began with a runner-up finish at the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place in just over three weeks’ time, with practice beginning on Friday, April 13 and race action taking place on Sunday, April 15.
Dr. Daniel Armbruster, president/CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America. “This is a natural continuation of Tim Pappas’s long history with Porsche Motorsport. The Black Swan entry of Jeff Ward in the Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR adds well to the Pirelli World Challenge class competing during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend and we are very pleased to see this car competing there in addition to Tim in his traditional No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GT class.”
Tim Pappas, Principal/Driver, Black Swan Racing.
“It’s great to return to action at Long Beach, especially being joined by a legend like Jeff Ward. I grew up as an avid dirt biker, and Jeff was always ‘the guy’ for any kid who looked up to motocross racing, so to have him join our group is something we’re all looking forward to. The event at Long Beach is unlike any other we go to, and we’re thrilled to add it to our global roster of events this year. While our 911 GT3 R program is a proven one, it’s great to finally put our Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR to work, and with a guy like Jeff behind the wheel we know it’s in good hands.”
Jeff Ward, Driver, Black Swan Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
“I’m very excited to take to the streets of Long Beach. Street racing is unlike anything else in motorsports, and the nature of the Pirelli World Challenge and their sprint racing format means you have to be instantly on the pace and willing to race hard. It’s an opportunity I’ve really been looking forward to, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of everyone at Black Swan Racing and Porsche Motorsport North America for making the opportunity possible.”