Pirelli World Challenge: Boston-based team motivated to win

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With the world anxiously watching the tense situation in Boston, one Pirelli World Challenge team is out to win this weekend for its stricken hometown.

Black Swan Racing, which fields the No. 54 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in the series’ GT category, is based within the city. While the team is set to race Sunday on the streets of Long Beach, California (TV: Sun., May 5, 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network), their thoughts are obviously back in Boston, which showed resiliency after Monday’s Marathon bombings before last night’s chaotic events unfolded in the city’s suburbs.

“There is a palpable tone to the city right now, it’s indescribable,” said Black Swan team manager/driver Tim Pappas in a statement released yesterday. “Our group wasn’t sure how best to address the situation, and at the end of the day, we just want to get on with the business of racing, and that’s what we’ll do this weekend.”

“Having grown up in the city of Boston, it’s tough to describe the emotions that many of us feel right now, but what I can say is how grateful I am that our city has some of the best emergency personnel and hospitals in the business. The Boston Fire Department, EMS, and Police Department are simply the best anywhere, and I personally couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

This weekend at Long Beach, the Black Swan No. 54 will feature a black stripe containing the “Boston Strong” or “B Strong” logo recently introduced by the Boston Red Sox.

Pappas is a former winner at Long Beach, taking the GTC class victory in the 2011 American Le Mans Series race at the legendary street course.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.