Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing driver Tim Pappas and his team, Black Swan Racing, earned a pair of third-place finishes in the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint series at Road America this weekend. The twin-podium finishes led the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing ranks at the Road America doubleheader that also saw CRP Racing and MCC Motorsports compete in the top-tier GT class.
After a season-best second-place qualifying result on Saturday morning, Pappas never raced out of the top three in the No. 54 in each of the weekend’s 50-minute sprint races. The third-place showings will move Pappas and Black Swan Racing into the top five in the GTA Sprint championship point standings and topped the No. 54 team’s previous best 2017 finish of fifth at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.
Road America was the first race weekend for the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint series since Long Beach in April and the season-opening rounds in St. Petersburg. The three most recent events leading into Road America were Pirelli World Challenge SprintX events, a series which features a two-driver format in 60-minute races.
Competing in SprintX, Pappas and Black Swan, along with co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen, have earned a victory and a third-place finish in the span of the year’s first five races, momentum that carried over into the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint series this weekend.
Ryan Dalziel has also been victorious in SprintX this year in the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 – joining Black Swan as respective class co-winners at the season-opening race at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in April – but circumstances didn’t give the CRP team a chance to transfer that success into the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint race at Road America.
The No. 2 car was retired in Saturday’s race after sustaining a pinhole puncture in the oil cooler, and Dalziel and CRP didn’t have the opportunity to make a move in Sunday’s final round.
A red-flag stoppage after a multiple-car accident halfway through Sunday’s 50-minute sprint ended up shaving several minutes off the race clock. Dalziel resumed the race in ninth place but didn’t have enough time to improve any positions in what was essentially a dash to the checkered flag on the 4.04-mile road course.
After debuting with Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing in the SprintX race at VIR earlier this year, MCC Motorsports contested its first Pirelli World Challenge Sprint series race at Road America.
Competing in the GT class with Negrao Jr. in the No. 92 MCC Motorsports Mercedes- AMG GT3, both the team and driver did a solid job at Road America in the step up to Pirelli World Challenge’s top-tier, all-pro class. Negrao Jr. shook off a contact incident on the first lap of Sunday’s race for a 12th-place result, improving one finishing position over his Saturday debut.
Next up for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams in North America is next weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, June 30 – July 2.
Mercedes-AMG Motorsports customer teams competing in the Pirelli World Challenge will next race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 28 – 30.
Tim Pappas, Driver – No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Overall we’re pretty pleased with our consecutive podiums this weekend, despite some of the BoP (Balance of Performance) challenges. Walking away with hardware is always a good feeling, and consistent points are also great for the championship, so all in all we’ll take it. I really enjoyed battling with some of the other competitors, it’s always fun when everyone races clean. Unfortunately, with the way the starts and caution periods worked, we weren’t able to make a big run to move further up the field, so in that sense we’re satisfied with our finish.”
Ryan Dalziel, Driver – No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Road America is such a great race track, one of the best in North America actually, but it was a difficult weekend for us. We just couldn’t get the top speed out of the car compared with the front runners. We made some good chassis gains for race two and narrowed the gap, but we struggled with speed on the straights relative to the competition.”