Connect with us

Pirelli GT4 America

Black Swan ‘Still Learning the Playbook’ of McLaren Artura GT4

Tim Pappas explains team’s switch to McLaren Artura GT4, expectations ahead of car’s SRO race debut…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO

Black Swan Racing is working on coming to grips with the new McLaren Artura GT4, which is set for its SRO debut in this weekend’s Pirelli GT4 America season opening races at Sonoma Raceway.

The longtime Porsche customer team has made the switch to the British manufacturer’s new GT4 offering after what team owner Tim Pappas explained was a lack of readily available cars from several brands.

“I made a decision really late to do something this season,” Pappas told Sportscar365. “We only got this car in early March. This is what we could get.

“After talking to a number of different people, this was a really interesting choice for us.

“We knew that we would be helping to get the car going. It would be us and Crucial [Motorsport]. Obviously Paul Holton has been a customer for a long time, so there’d be a few cars over in IMSA.

“But they hadn’t had plans to run in SRO until we approached them. Then they said they were willing to support us, have parts, engineering support.

“Things came together really quickly.

“These days, there’s so much global demand for GT4 cars, you can’t like the old days call Porsche, call BMW, call Mercedes, Audi is not really here anymore. Everyone’s production is sold out.

“It’s very, very competitive. It was a little bit of what we could get but I’d say it’s been exciting to work with a new company and see how they do things and figure out how to get up to speed.”

Pappas and longtime co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen completed a two-day test at Thermal Club with the car prior to unloading at Sonoma Raceway earlier this week.

With about three hours of seat time in the Artura GT4, Pappas admitted he’s still learning the car compared to his previous Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, which he and the Dutchman last raced in 2021.

“You’d think on paper they’re both mid-engined cars and they would be really similar,” Pappas said. “But they don’t drive similarly at all.

“The suspension, it’s a double-wishbone car, front and rear. You feel lower, you feel a little bit more connected to the ground.

“I would say maybe in a couple races, I’ll have a different opinion.”

As the sole McLaren in a field of 43 cars, Pappas has set realistic expectations for its first weekend with the new platform.

“We understand it’s a new car and SRO is giving us a BoP that’s based on the BoP test and based on what they’ve seen and what they expect, as far as performance goes,” he said.

“I think they’re going to be fair with us like they are with everyone else.

“We hope that we’re competitive and we have a shot. But we also respect the fact that we’ve got to get through a race weekend and see where we stack up.

“At the moment, we feel like we’re a seventh or eighth place car.

“I hope that can improve but as a new car, how much performance is in the car and how much are we extracting out of the car, not really knowing what it wants from shocks and springs and bars and all the combinations of what we can tune on the car.

“We’re still trying to learn the playbook in this thing.”

Pappas: GT4 Cars “Just as Fun to Drive” Compared to Now-Costly GT3s

The longtime GT entrant/driver, who primarily campaigned GT3 machinery over the years, has praised SRO’s GT4 platform in delivering competitive racing that he feels hasn’t diminished the on-track product.

“As a longtime GT racer, GT3 cars have gotten to be the replacement for GTE/GTLM or the way they have merged together means that the price points, complexity and running of those cars is significantly more expensive and complicated,” Pappas explained.

“It’s a big commitment to go GT3 racing. GT4 racing, the cars are significantly less complicated, less expensive but just as fun to drive.

“When you’re out in a field with 20 or 30 cars, if you’re going four seconds a lap slower than a GT3 car, you don’t know that because there isn’t a GT3 car [on track] to compare it to.

“Close racing is close racing and I think SRO has done a good job putting together a set of rules and a format.

“We were early adopters of SprintX and my opinion has gone up and down on it but I’d say now after doing a lot of different stuff, I’m pretty happy about how this has coalesced.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

Click to comment

More in Pirelli GT4 America