AUSTIN, Texas – The No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari F458, and drivers Emil Assentato and Anthony Lazzaro, jumped to second in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team Championship standings Saturday with a comeback fifth-place finish in the GRAND-AM of The Americas presented by GAINSCO and TOTAL following a Friday accident in qualifying.
The team’s sister No. 61 R.Ferri AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari F458 in turn led in the opening half of the inaugural sports car race at Circuit of The Americas only to see the pit problems and a late hit-and-run incident by an Audi competitor drop co-drivers Jeff Segal and Max Papis to 10th at the finish.
“We unloaded with two really quick Ferraris but the slightest of errors Friday in qualifying just had a huge impact on the day,” Lazzaro said. “The guys worked until 3 a.m. fixing our FXDD Ferrari and obviously did a fantastic job. When I got out of the car this morning after the warm-up we were P1 at that time and Jeff later topped the session in the No. 61.”
Assentato, who was uninjured in the Friday qualifying accident, started the No. 69 and quickly moved up five spots through the field after starting dead last among the GT entries. He handed off to Lazzaro in the race’s opening hour who in turn continued the on-track fight to the finish.
“The race was a little bit tough, we had some right rear tires get stuck on both cars in pit stops which is totally ironic, and I stalled in the pits one time,” Lazzaro said. “But fifth place is like a victory and we just wanted to get points and we have to be up there.”
The No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari F458 won last year’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Championship and has moved off to a strong title defense so far in 2013.
The pair of solid season-opening results has moved the No.69 AIM/FXDD entry to second in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team Championship points standings. The No. 69 trails the leading No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 by just two points, 58 – 56. Assentato and Lazzaro rank third in the GT Driver Championship standings with the same points tally of 56.
The new No. 61 R.Ferri AIM Motorsport team is still looking for a race result befitting the team’s field-leading pace at both Daytona and this past weekend in Austin.
Electrical problems hindered the fast Ferrari at Daytona while the pit issues and late hit by the Audi ended any shot at victory lane after the race-leading run at Circuit of The Americas.
“We were having such a good day, leading at the beginning of the race which was great, seeing the car out front where it belongs,” Segal said. “We had a little bit of a challenge on the first stop with a wheel-nut issue on the right rear and oddly enough the 69 car had the same issue. So, that is something we have to look into because we haven’t seen anything like that before.”
Papis led four laps in his opening stint after qualifying the No. 61 on the outside front row and came in for the ill-fated pit stop in first place.
“I was really pleased for the speed that the 61 car had,” Papis said. “We were very, very competitive but unfortunately did not capitalize on the speed and the ability that we had.
We didn’t bring home a result that does justice for the level of R.Ferri AIM racing. On the positive side, we all operated pretty good, another great weekend with a lot of speed, a lot of good showing and I had a lot of fun passing for the lead and handing the car over in P1.”
Segal later moved the Ferrari back into contention after rebounding from the pit delay. He raced to as high as second place and was zeroing in on the race leader when more setbacks emerged.
“I charged though the field, which was great, we were making really good progress,” Segal said. “We were positioned really well, we got shuffled back again in our last stop and then had a restart where we were a little bit back in the order.
I was trying to make up as many positions as I could with time ticking down, then the Audi hit us and ripped the valve stem out of a tire. We had to pit again and that was that. Top-10 isn’t horrible but that is not what we are here for.”
Next up for AIM Autosport Team FXDD and R.Ferri AIM Motorsport is the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, April 4 – 6. The two-hour race will be broadcast on SPEED on Sunday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m. EST/2:30 p.m. PST.
AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing