AUSTIN, Texas – Jeff Segal endured another competitive but challenging GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race Saturday in the inaugural GRAND-AM of The Americas presented by GAINSCO and TOTAL where the No. 61 R.Ferri AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari F458 team finished 10th after pit stop issues and a hard hit from another GT competitor.
Segal, the two-time and reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Champion, paced Friday practice, topped race-day morning warm-up and was once again one of the fastest GT drivers on the track all weekend.
“We had a great car from the moment we rolled off the truck in Texas and were really optimistic heading into the race,” Segal said.
“We certainly have shown we have the performance and the speed both at Daytona and this weekend at Austin but we have just had some largely unforeseen circumstances get in the way.”
The debuting No. 61 AIM/R.Ferri team is still looking for a race result worthy of its class-leading pace at both Daytona and all weekend in Texas.
Electrical gremlins plagued the Ferrari at Daytona while the pit issues and the late mauling by the Audi ended any chance at a win after a race-leading run at Circuit of The Americas.
Co-driver Max Papis led four laps in his opening stint after qualifying the No. 61 on the outside front row but Segal never had a chance to keep the lead. As Segal was strapping in the Ferrari, the AIM/R.Ferri crew was grappling with a faulty wheel nut that cost valuable time.
“Leading at the beginning of the race was great,” Segal said. “It is good to see that car out front where it belongs but then we had an issue on the first stop.
As I was getting in, a wheel-nut on the right rear stuck and that is something we will have to get into because it happened to the 69 car as well.”
Segal raced the Ferrari back into contention after recovering from the pit delay, charged to as high as second and was just about to mount a challenge for the lead when more problems surfaced.
“I was making it through the field, making good progress and was in a really good position but we got shuffled back again on our last stop,” Segal said.
“Any time you get dropped down in the order you have a chance of getting caught up in something and that happened to us. I was kind of under the gun to get going with 35 minutes to go in the race and I went inside the Audi at an apex and got clouted on the right side. It ripped the valve stem out of a tire, we had a flat and that was that.”
Segal returned to the race after a quick stop to change the tire and managed to claw into the top 10 by the finish.
“We got back to the pits, changed the tire, kept going and laid down some of our fastest laps of the race,” Segal said.
“The car was great, it didn’t do anything to us, but it was really unfortunate because we were in the hunt for a podium even with all of the problems that we had. I hate to leave here empty handed. A top 10 isn’t horrible but it is not what we are here for.”
Next up for Jeff Segal and R.Ferri AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari 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.