in No. 02 ESM Tequila Patrón Ferrari F458 Italia
Two-time sports car champion to co-drive with Ed Brown and Anthony Lazzaro
Two-time sports car racing champion and experienced Ferrari driver Jeff Segal has joined the Tequila Patrón-sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) team for this weekend’s 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Segal, 26, will make his 12 Hours of Sebring debut and his first start with ESM as part of an all-American two car lineup. Segal will co-drive the No. 02 ESM Tequila Patrón Ferrari F458 Italia with team regular Ed Brown and Anthony Lazzaro. Segal and Lazzaro also co-drove a similar Ferrari F458, along with Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi, in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona this past January.
“I'm really excited about joining ESM for this race, and I know that we all have really lofty expectations for both cars,” Segal said. “While the GTE-spec Ferrari 458 is a new experience for me, I have had the benefit of a few days of testing with the team at Sebring before this weekend, and at this point I feel very comfortable in the car; I'm definitely ready to race. The car shares a lot of the same behavior of the other versions of the 458 that I've worked with, which makes the learning process a lot easier for me.”
Segal felt right at home with the Florida-based ESM team in pre-race testing at Sebring. During the ALMS-sanctioned test in early February, the ESM team set the pace as two of the quickest race cars and the top Ferraris in the GT class.
“It’s a new experience for me being with ESM for the first time, but everyone on the crew has done a great job of helping me integrate into their team,” Segal said. “The amount of experience and skill contained within the team is incredibly impressive, and the great thing for me has been that I've been able to draw from all of that experience to help my preparation for the race.
“The learning isn't just from my co-drivers, but also from the engineering staff and the crew who are a very well-polished group. I think that this being their third year together as a team, they're really positioned well to deliver on all of their promise, and I'm feeling like I'm in the right place at the right time by driving with them at Sebring.”
Segal has an impressive record that includes two championship titles. He is the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT co-champion with Assentato, and the 2007 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS co-champion with Jep Thornton. Sebring, however, offers Segal an entirely new challenge.
“For me, the 12 Hours of Sebring will be a new experience, and I'm aware that I have a lot to learn in terms of the nuance of the racing, particularly with so many classes of cars on the track at the same time,” Segal said. “Fortunately, the Ferrari is a car I'm really comfortable with at this point, so from the first practice session I focused on coming to grips with the traffic and the closing speeds. I'm not needing to worry about figuring out the car.“I have plenty of experience at Sebring, but the performance of the GTE-spec Ferrari 458 is pretty far beyond anything I've driven here, so there has definitely been some learning. That said, the car is incredibly well composed, with a ton of grip and capability, so it’s basically just a matter of trusting the car and pushing to those higher limits.”
The 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón begins with the 60th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. Today’s opening day of action concluded with night practice while qualifying takes place on Friday, March 16, at 3:20pm. The green flag for the 60th Running of the 12 Hours of Sebring falls on Saturday, March 17, at 10:30am.“I'm also really excited to be driving with Ed Brown and Anthony Lazzaro in the 02 car at this race,” Segal said. “Anthony and I have a lot of experience together over the past two years, so we know exactly what to expect from each other, and in that sense, we're really almost plug-and-play regardless of the car or the team. Having worked with Ed during the recent tests, I was really happy at how quickly we have all become comfortable with each other, and we've already got a great dynamic between us. Ed has been really impressive with the speed that he has shown in the tests, so we are all very bullish about our prospects for the race.”
Segal hasn’t raced since the late January opener in Daytona.
“I have been keeping busy since Daytona, but I'm glad to be getting back to racing this weekend,” Segal said. “I have done a few days of karting in Miami to stay sharp, and we've also done a couple of days testing with ESM at Sebring, which should be very beneficial to us as we enter race weekend. This time of year is also when you really have to prepare for the busy season just around the corner, so a lot of my focus has been working on building my fitness level and laying the framework for a successful spring and summer. I've done a lot of biking, some swimming, and I'm making sure that my batteries are fully charged and I'm as healthy as possible to start the year. At this point I'm feeling great, and really ready to hit the track!”