In Debut at 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona
No. 69 Maintains Top-10 Performance Throughout Golden Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona Event
Jeff Segal and AIM Autosport Team FXDD finished eighth in the GT division at the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28 – 29, where the former series champion joined full-season co-driver Emil Assentato, and their teammates Nick Longhi and Anthony Lazzaro, in an encouraging race debut for the new No. 69 Ferrari 458 Italia GT Grand Am.
After qualifying on the outside front row on Thursday, Segal started the No 69 Ferrari on Saturday afternoon and actually led the first few 100 yards into Turn 1 of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.“The plan at the start of the race was to either get to the lead and stay there safely, or tuck in wherever it made sense and not get into a fight,” Segal said. “I made a play for the lead, it didn’t work out, and then I settled into the top five. We knew there were a lot of Porsches determined to get to the front and we didn’t really want any part of that showmanship. We just wanted to keep the car in one piece.”
Looking back on the event, Segal recognized the accomplishments of the debut race for the AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari and gives credit to the key players for their dedication and hard work.
“The car was really strong throughout the race,” Segal said. “I was impressed that a brand new car made it through a 24 hour race without any issues, so that was fantastic. Full credit goes to Ferrari, Michelotto and AIM Autosport for preparing the car as well as they did. We’ve done a lot of the development work. From a driving perspective I was very comfortable with the car before the race, but I’m even more comfortable with the car after the race. I’m really looking forward to getting the car on an actual road course where our straight line speed deficiency isn’t quite so obvious. Then we can focus on things this car does really well like the drivability, the braking, the handling and so forth.”
Reviewing the data and timing sheets, Segal noted he kept time with the race leaders regardless of where they were in the field.
“We always we had the pace of the leaders,” Segal said. “When I was running in the top five, I was turning the same lap times as the top two. I had an incident with a Mustang in the middle of the night and that put us down a lap, but we were still running the same pace as the leaders.”
Earning 23 valuable championship points for the eighth place finish was another huge plus for Segal, particularly after his car was taken out early in last year’s race and he didn’t earn a single point.
“We’re leaving Daytona with more points this season than we have in the last few years,” Segal said. “That makes me feel good, but more importantly we have a car that’s in one piece. We learned a lot about this car in this race. We battled some brakes issues throughout the race which made it very, very tricky to drive the car, but the pace was there and the reliability was there.”
Next up for Jeff Segal and AIM Autosport Team FXDD is the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Alabama, March 30 – 31.