in No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand AmSecond 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Win in a Row Extends Championship Points LeadJeff Segal and co-driver Emil Assentato scored a repeat 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT win Sunday in the Global Barter 250 presented by Susan G. Komen for the Cure at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP), just two weeks after giving the new No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am program its first victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Segal took over from starting driver Assentato just under one hour into the timed 2-3/4 hour sprint race and put on another charge through the field, assisted by a well-timed yellow flag, for the second “double” of his GRAND-AM Road Racing career. Segal and Assentato also scored back-to-back race victories at the Grand Prix of Miami and Barber Motorsports Park in 2010.
Segal is a native of Philadelphia, which is just 45 minutes away from NJMP, and now lives in Miami, not far from Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Two home races, two wins, I am really, really excited about that,” Segal said. “Today was definitely tough, a lot hotter than it had been the rest of the weekend. The track was a lot different, the times were a lot slower, and I think everyone was slipping and sliding.”
As they have at the last three races since the Rolex 24 At Daytona opener, Segal and AIM Autosport Team FXDD made the Ferrari better throughout the weekend, from unofficial promoter testing on Thursday straight up to and through the race.
“We spent a lot of time in practice making changes to the car,” Segal said. “I think we changed gear ratios every session. The guys just never stopped working, chipping away at it. We had some disagreements, I wanted to make the car a little faster over one lap and Ian Willis and the guys at AIM Autosport kept sort of focusing me on ‘long race, long race, long run,’ and they won, and ultimately we won, so I guess they were right.”
Segal began his stint in seventh place, moved up over the course of his two-hours in the Ferrari, and made the winning pass for the lead with just 15 minutes remaining in the race. The final 12 laps were the only ones Segal led all day but it was enough to give him and his teammates the enviable record of victories in half of the year’s first four races.
“We have just an unbelievable resource with our partner in Ferrari and this car, being built special for the Rolex Series, it is still heavily based on the GT3 car, and there is 40 of those in the world. We have a lot of support, we are learning a lot, we have found very quickly that the window for this car being good is very small, but when you are in that window, it is good.”
Segal gave high marks to a new Continental GT-R tire that was used for the first time this weekend.
“We had the benefit of testing a couple of weeks ago on the GT-R tire and we really needed that mileage,” Segal said. “We need to figure out what our car needed in hotter weather on this type of course, and that really helped us a lot. The new tire has clearly been faster, the times this weekend were tremendously fast compared to last year, and the longevity is good, so it is really a good step in the right direction, and we are really happy about it.”
Segal and Assentato entered the race as the GT points leaders and the 2010 Rolex Series GT champions extended their lead to eight points, 125-117, over the nearest competitor. The No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am leads the team championship standings by the same margin.Next up for Jeff Segal and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the inaugural Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 at Belle Isle in Detroit, June 1 – 2. That weekend’s featured two-hour sprint race can be seen live on SPEED, Saturday, June 2, at 5 p.m. EDT/2 p.m. PDT.