Reigning GT Co-Champion Jeff Segal Shifts Focus to Season Following Tough Rolex 24 At Daytona Weekend
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 30, 2011) - Although the Rolex 24 At Daytona proved difficult for the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT team, reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class champion Jeff Segal leaves Daytona International Speedway appreciative of his team and ready to prepare for the remainder of the season. The team started in 17th position and ran as high as third place in the race before being involved in a race-ending contact incident in the International Horseshoe.
"I'm very disappointed that our race ended like that, but I appreciate all the hard work that the team and crew did to get us to that point," Segal said. "Hopefully now we can get back to the shop, repair the car, and try to close the gap to the faster GT cars for the remainder of the season."
The Miami, Fla. native spent Thursday and Friday chasing a setup for the car, and the team made great strides heading into race day. Segal started the No. 69 and immediately set the pace for the Mazdas before handing the car over to co-driver Anthony Lazzaro.
"It was definitely a tough race for us and a tough weekend in general," Segal said. "We spent practice chasing the balance of the car, and really struggled to match the handling that we had found at the January Test Days. Ultimately, we ran out of time to work on the car so we had our hands full in qualifying and in the race. Despite that, and despite the speed deficit to the Porsches being so large, we actually had a pretty strong run going. We had managed to stay out of trouble for the opening few hours, and that alone had us hovering in the top-three."
Lazzaro took the car up to third before handing the controls over to Nick Ham for the night drive. On lap 145, Ham was hit by a Camaro and the impact left the Mazda with severe damage. The FXDD/SpeedSource team went to work right away and had the car back in action two hours later. Segal took the car back to the on-track battle before handing the controls over to co-champion Emil Assentato, who went on to complete 202 laps before the Mazda was retired.
"The race ended for us when we got caught up in someone else's incident," Segal said. "Nick was at the wheel and several GT cars tangled in front of him at turn six, blocking the track as they spun and collecting him as he tried to pick his way through. The impacts caused significant damage to the front suspension of the car, and although the SpeedSource crew did a tremendous job to put the car back on track, the damage was too great and the time lost in the garage was too much to overcome, so we were forced to retire."
Next up for Segal will be the Grand Prix of Miami, scheduled for March 4 - 5, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
-source: jeff segal PR