for No. 69 Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am with Emil Assentato and AIM Autosport Team FXDDSegal and Assentato Give New Ferrari Program and AIM Autosport Team FXDD First Podium FinishesJeff Segal made the sprint race debuts of both AIM Autosport Team FXDD and the new No. 69 Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am memorable ones Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park where he and teammate Emil Assentato finished second in the GT class.
Segal (left) and Assentato (right) also co-drove to a GT victory at Barber in 2010, but this weekend’s strong showing in the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am may have been just as rewarding. Segal and the new team finished eighth in their overall GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series debut with the Ferrari this past January in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and took a giant step today with the first podium showing.
“We worked really hard all weekend and full credit to the team because when we unloaded off the truck and we weren’t very good,” Segal said. “We still don’t have a big book of data to draw from on this car, so we tried some things that worked on the GT3 cars in Europe but it just wasn’t right for the car in Rolex Series trim. So we spent the test days making the car better and better and actually by Friday the car was stunning. That made things a little bit easier and that was kind of what we expected. Barber is perfect for our car; the type of corners and the speed of the corners are tailor-made for the Ferrari.”
Assentato drove as competitively as Segal, qualifying on the outside front row and racing to the lead by the end of his opening stint behind the wheel of the No. 69 FXDD Ferrari.
“We expected to do well, Emil did a great job qualifying on the front row and leading the race, and finishing P2 is great for this point in the year with a brand new car. Had the yellows fallen a little differently, we would have been in contention for the win, but at this point we are happy with where we are.”
Segal drove the race’s final two stints and each time charged from as low as eighth in the running order to second. His final charge in the last 45 minutes of the race saw him locked in a great battle with the Porsches of Leh Keen and Andy Lally.
“It was a really scrappy fight at the end of the race,” Segal said. “Everybody was slipping and sliding. You could really see the strengths of all the cars, everything in the GT class. We are pretty good with where we are right now, we have some work to do with GRAND-AM on some of the fuel fill, because that really can change the complexion of the race, but so far we are pretty happy.”
Segal and AIM Autosport/Team FXDD will now focus on Round 3 of the 2012 Rolex Series, the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway, April 27 – 29. The race can be seen live on SPEED, Sunday, April 29, at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT.
Homestead is killer on tires, Barber is killer on tires, but they are killer on tires in a different way, and they take a much different setup,” Segal said. “So we have to do a little head scratching and find out what the best setup is for Miami and, no doubt, we have some work to do when we get there to figure out what the car wants. We worked quickly this weekend and I am sure we will work quickly there.”Today’s solid finish boosts to 55 the number of championship points for both Segal and Assentato and the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am, just eight points out of first place in both the Rolex Series GT Driver and Team Championships.