Bathurst 12 Hour class winners set for 2019 return
Top American GT squad Black Swan Racing will return to the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February.
The Tim Pappas-owned and run team finished third on the outright podium this year and claimed the Pro-Am class victory on debut at Mount Panorama.
Pappas confirmed to Speedcafe.com that they would once again be making the trip Down Under, fielding a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Pro-Am class as part of a full 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign.
Black Swan Racing regular Jeroen Bleekemolen and Porsche star Marc Lieb will share the driving duties with Pappas as part of a three-driver combination for the 2019 event.
“We’ll be bringing our Black Swan Racing team back for the Intercontinental GT Challenge kicking off at Bathurst in February 2019,” Pappas told Speedcafe.com of the team’s plans for next year.
“We’ll have almost the same driver line-up as we had (in 2018) with myself, Marc Lieb and Jeroen Bleekemolen as the driver line-up.
“We won’t compete with four drivers, we’ll compete with just the three in Pro-Am and obviously our aim will be to try and take a shot at (the) overall (win), but we’ll have to see where that goes and first and foremost defend our Pro-Am title.
“Look, obviously we’re racers and we’re doing it because we want to win,” he continued.
“My team-mate Marc Lieb, he’s (competed) two years and he got a second overall and a class win and third overall and a class win, so I think he’d really like to check the overall win box.
“For us that would be outstanding. I think it will difficult to do that because there will be full factory efforts from Audi and BMW; there’ll be some local teams with support from Porsche, so we’ll have our work cut out for us mixing me in the driver line-up against all car Pro line-ups, but we’ll do our best.
“I think what we do well with race strategy and preparation put us in a position to try and win it this year and we’re going to try and do the same thing again.”
After their triumph earlier in 2018, Pappas said there was no doubt in his mind that Black Swan Racing would return to the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2019, whether they committed to the full IGTC season or not.
“When you go down there and have success, like in any race, you kind of feel compelled to go back,” he explained.
“We didn’t really have an easy time at Spa (24 Hours) and that’s motivated us to go back and I think Bathurst was the opposite and we’re motivated to go back.
“I think the two extremes really fire you up; we’re pretty excited to go back in general.”
With the event nearing, the team’s Bathurst preparations are all but complete, with the car – a newer chassis than that which they raced at Mount Panorama in 2018 – and equipment already in transit.
“We’re a hundred percent done,” Pappas said of their preparations.
“We have planned for this event for quite a while now. We as a team decided, even as we finished where we finished that we would go back and take a shot.
“We’ve prepared the car – it’s actually not the same chassis as the winning car from this year.
“It’s the same car that we ran at Suzuka (10 Hours); the car we ran this year at Bathurst which we refer to in the team as chassis 505 is now retired.
“We have a one-year newer chassis, chassis 506 that finished fourth at Suzuka, so that’s the car we’ll be bringing.
“The guys finished up the preparations about a week ago and the container was picked up at our workshop on Monday of this week.”
The 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour takes place from January 31-February 3.