The first race of the IMSA sports car season kicks off this Saturday with the qualification race for the Daytona 24, but before the season can even start Tim Pappas’ Black Swan Racing team has been forced to withdraw. Last weekend, while racing in the Dubai 24 hours race, Pappas contracted COVID-19 from one of his racing co-drivers. With the twice-round-the-clock Daytona event scheduled for the 30th of January, there simply isn’t enough time for Pappas to recover and hit the track.
The 47-year-old gentleman driver is president of his family’s longstanding real estate company, and has spent the last 15 years or so building his name as a reliable sports car entrant.
As with the 2020 season, Black Swan had intended to run the 24 Hours of Daytona as a one-off event to kick off the 2021 season, choosing to sit out the remainder of the IMSA season. Pappas was planning to drive a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD category with Larry ten Voorde, Patrick Pilet, and Patrick Lindsey for the Florida endurance classic, but just a week and a half before the race, these drivers are now without a ride.
During the Dubai event, Pappas drove the MRS GT-Racing 911 GT3 Cup to a class podium with Jeroen Bleekemolen, Saif Alamer, and Jukka Honkavuori. While Tim doesn’t seem eager to divulge which of his driving partners delivered the potentially deadly virus to him in Dubai, he’s clearly quite salty about the whole ordeal.
“Unfortunately, my teammate in Dubai was COVID positive and didn’t know it,” Pappas told Sportscar365. “Despite my best efforts to be safe, I now have tested positive and have mild symptoms.
“There was no way that I could see to isolate for the CDC recommended time and make the race. So, I made the decision to withdraw.”
Sportscar365 goes on to describe “several drivers that have recently tested positive for COVID-19 that had planned to contest the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.” And considering that Florida is a coronavirus hotspot right now, perhaps there will be even more withdrawals before race day.
With Black Swan sitting out, the Daytona 24 entry list has decreased to 49 cars, and the GTD class (the largest in the field by a significant margin) is down to 19.