Jeff Segal Ready For Return To Laguna Seca

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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Jeff Segal Ready For Return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT

Reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Champions Jeff Segal, teammate Emil Assentato and the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT team will bring their best championship points position of the season to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend for the Continental Tire Festival of Speed Powered by Mazda, July 7 – 9.

#69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8: Emil Assentato, Jeff Segal
#69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8: Emil Assentato, Jeff Segal

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Segal and Assentato co-drove to a fifth-place finish the last time the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series appeared at Mazda Raceway in 2009 and return this weekend ranked a season-high fifth in the 2011 GT Championship standings. Segal hopes to improve in both areas at the conclusion of Saturday’s race that kicks-off a five-race run to the end of the 2011 season.

“I'm really looking forward to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” Segal said. “The track is such a rush to drive, I can't help but look forward to running there again. It has an amazing mix of high speed corners with some really challenging elevation changes, and it really demands a lot of confidence from the driver.”

Segal’s familiarity with his Mazda RX-8 GT and hunch the car may perform well on the Mazda Raceway circuit have him optimistic for a good weekend.

“In order to go quickly there you have to really give a high commitment in entry speed, so I'm hoping that my familiarity with the Mazda RX-8 GT after all of these years can pay a bit of a dividend,” Segal said. “I think that this track will hopefully cater to our car a bit, with the Mazda’s agility and need for momentum. I'm really excited, very much looking forward to this weekend.”

The No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT team has 171 points at fifth in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team Championship standings. That’s just five behind fourth place and 20 points behind the current class leaders with the year’s final five races looming.

“I certainly think it’s time to get up and go if we hope to challenge for the championship, but to say that implies that we haven't been trying our best up to this point, and we certainly have,” Segal said. “It’s pretty unbelievable that given the horrendous weekend we had at Road America in the last race that we still improved our standing in the points race. I guess it speaks to the uncertainty when things are this close and proves that we shouldn't give up. Anything can still happen.”

Segal and Assentato finished 10th at Road America, just one race after a third-place showing at Watkins Glen International in early June. Segal also brought the No. 69 home to a second-place finish at Miami in March, but the top step of the podium is really where he wants to be for the first time this season.

“Our efforts remain on getting a win before the year is over,” Segal said. “This is also the best things we could do for our championship effort. Being 20 points out of first is a long, way, but not impossible.”

Much has changed in the GT class since Segal and Assentato finished fifth in 2009, but that result, and a victory by their SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT teammates in that race, is somewhat encouraging.

“I'm certainly hoping that we can improve upon this result from 2009, especially since our teammates in the 70 are the defending race winners,” Segal said. “No doubt a lot has changed in GT since 2009, but I'm really optimistic that we can turn things around this weekend.”

By: jeff segal racing

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Series GRANDAM
Tags grand-am, grand touring, laguna seca, mazda, mazda raceway, prototype, rolex, segal, speedsource