DAYTONA BEACH – Two-time reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Champion Jeff Segal worked through a challenging but productive three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona test this past weekend in his debut run with co-drivers Max Papis and Toni Vilander in the new No. 61 R.Ferri AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari F458.
Segal has driven the past six years with Emil Assentato, a partnership that produced GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Championships last year and in 2010, but the duo has divided ranks in 2013 to drive different AIM/R.Ferri and AIM/FXDD Ferrari F458s.
With Fisichella scheduled to join the team for the upcoming Rolex 24, Segal, Papis and Vilander handled all of the driving during this past weekend’s test. The trio’s best lap of the three days came in Saturday morning’s session with a relatively conservative time of 1:50.019 (116.489 mph). The focus of the Roar test for Segal and his teammates was to run through a deliberate schedule of component and setup iterations while also developing familiarity within the new team and personnel.
“It was a tough test, and we had a lot that we had to learn and figure out, but I think we did just that,” Segal said. “If it wasn’t tough I would be a little bit concerned. New car, new team and there are a lot things that we had to figure out and that’s what this test was all about.”
Starting the season as the reigning GT Champion for the second time in three years doesn’t faze Segal one bit. He and his teammates are also not about to let their guard down even though they are once again heading into a Rolex 24 as the current GT title holders.
“It’s really not top of mind at all,” Segal said. “Right now it’s all about the Rolex 24 and the greatest way to start the season is with big points in the first race. It’s all about this race and we will focus on the championship after that but for now the Rolex 24 is the big challenge.”