Defending GT Race Winner Jeff Segal Ready to Rebound In Grand Prix of Miami with Emil Assentato in the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT
HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 3, 2011) – Ready to get his season back on track after an early exit in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT-class Champion – and Miami resident – Jeff Segal, and his teammate Emil Assentato, will defend their 2010 Grand Prix of Miami victory this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT.
The 2:45-minute timed-sprint race is the second event on 2011’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series 12-race schedule and will air live on SPEED this Saturday, March 5, at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT.
Segal and Assentato co-drove to not only the Miami victory last year but also the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Series GT Championship. Along with co-drivers Nick Ham, Anthony Lazzaro and Nick Longhi, they were hoping to begin their 2011 title defense with a solid showing in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, but a multiple-car contact incident early in the day-long race dashed their hopes. Ham was at the wheel early Saturday night in the early stages of the race when he was caught up in the incident that eventually ended the No. 69’s race.
“The Rolex 24 definitely wasn't the result that we had hoped for,” Segal said. “We really felt like we had all the tools we needed to win this year, and yet again it didn't go our way. As tough as that is, it is racing and it’s the story of any race as tough as the Rolex 24. If it were easy to win, nobody would care about it!”
Saturday’s Grand Prix of Miami feels like the start of the season all over again for Segal, and usually does.
“To me, the season is always divided,” Segal said. “You have the Rolex 24, and then you have the rest of the year. It’s like two championships in one. Last year we had a really tough run at the Rolex 24, and we still managed to win the GT championship. This year, we have the exact same plan. From the disappointment of the race, I take comfort in knowing that we are motivated to bounce back strong at Homestead and build some positive momentum again.”
Segal and Assentato are racing together as full-season teammates for the fourth-straight year. Their final 2010 championship record included the Miami win, one more victory, five top-three showings and no finish lower than fourth in 10 consecutive races.
“The Rolex 24 and all of the pre-event testing are really tricky,” Segal said. “Now that we're back to the sprint races, we can focus more on the task at hand, which is nice. A sprint race is much easier to prepare for than the 24 hour race, so I'm definitely looking forward to a 'normal' race weekend and getting back on track.”
Although last year’s win at Miami should bode well for a strong performance, Segal knows that a repeat win will be even tougher than the 2010 victory.
“So many things have changed since last year that I wouldn't dare bank on our past results anywhere as an indicator of how we'll do this year,” Segal said. “The landscape of the GT class has really changed. We have different rules, different tires and different conditions. We arrive at Homestead with good memories from last year, but no expectations. We're definitely going to have to work for it.”
Work is actually something Segal has had plenty of in the five-week “break” between the Daytona opener and this weekend’s Miami round.
“I wish I could say I had fun or entertaining stories of my 'off time,' but the truth is I have been anything but off,” Segal said. “Immediately after Daytona, I flew to Philadelphia and I've been there working until just a couple of days ago. When I'm not racing, I'm taking on a growing role in the family business, so I certainly have my hands full juggling the different responsibilities throughout the year.”
Even his off-track professional life, however, keeps Segal in the fast lane.
“Fortunately, the family business isn't too far removed from the racing as I've been working at ALGAR Ferrari-Maserati, the authorized sales and service dealer in the Philadelphia area,” Segal said. “I am working on establishing our in house team that will compete in the Ferrari Challenge Series this year. We'll be campaigning a two-car effort, with one 430 Challenge car and one brand new 458 Challenge car. We're still in the formative stages, but with the first race of that series in April, we're working flat out to make it a successful debut!”
Saturday’s Grand Prix of Miami will be preceded by practice and qualifying on Friday, March 4. The Grand Prix of Miami can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, March 5, at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT.
-source: jeff segal PR