Segal, Emil Assentato and the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Rebound From Early Incident to Seal GRAND-AM Road Racing’s Best 2012 Finishing Record
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (September 30, 2012) – Two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Champion Jeff Segal shook off an early-race incident for the second time this season and joined co-driver Emil Assentato and AIM Autosport Team FXDD in wrapping up the best 2012 finishing record in the Rolex Series Saturday with an eighth place result in Saturday’s season-ending GRAND-AM Road Racing Championship.
Ferrari win the GT manufacturers' championship while putting the final touch on a nearly perfect and championship-winning season with another strong finish. Both goals were accomplished by the time the checkered flag flew to end a typically wild Lime Rock race and the 2012 season.
“The manufacturers’ championship was incredibly important for Ferrari,” Segal said. “For us and the team, the driver and team championships are great, personal gratification, but Ferrari is the one who started this movement. They are the ones that started this process, they wanted to come back to the Rolex Series, and had we ended the season without them winning the manufacturers’ championship it would have been very disappointing. I am very happy that we could help them do that, especially with today's crowd, and with the President of Ferrari North America in attendance as well as representatives from Ferrari Corse Clienti and Michelotto.”
Starting driver Assentato was running to plan in his opening stint when he got caught up in a multi-car GT incident near the end of Lime Rock’s narrow back straight. Assentato spun but avoided any major contact and drove the No. 69 to the pits. Segal got in, the team made some quick repairs, and the fight back to the front was underway.
“It was an ugly race, but we knew that coming into Lime Rock,” Segal said. “You can get involved in weird incidents here, it’s a narrow track, it’s a tight track, people get aggressive around here, and we got caught up in that early in the race. The rest of the race was recovery by the time I got in.”
Segal clawed back to eighth by the finish, matching the team’s debut race result in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. In between those races, Segal and his teammates ripped of a string of 11 races that saw only one finish out of the top five. The streak included a GT-class leading three victories at Miami, New Jersey and Road America, four second place finishes and one third-place showing. Segal and the No. 69 team earned Ferrari’s manufacturer points in each of those 11 races.
Saturday’s eighth-place result would have been enough for Segal and AIM Autosport Team FXDD to clinch the manufacturer crown for Ferrari, but the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari F458 earned the points, getting the job done with a third-place finish.
“Finishing eighth is a bit disappointing but ultimately to go through the season and have our worst finish be eighth is remarkable,” Segal said. “The handling of the car was pretty good, but not great. I think we might have missed a little bit on setup with the lack of time that we had in dry practice, but it was good enough for us to hold our own.”
Segal, who also captured the 2010 GT championship with Assentato and FXDD, earned his first championship in the 2007 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Challenge Grand Sport (GS) division. Segal now has three GRAND-AM Road Racing titles in the last six years at just 27 years old.
“Truthfully, it is a tremendous relief, it is a great accomplishment, two-time GT champion is spectacular when you look at the quality of entries that we race,” Segal said. “I am really proud of that, to have won races with Ferrari at this level is something that I only could have dreamed of a few years ago, but now I am really determined for more. Championships are great but there is one that I feel like gets away each year and that is the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Right now that is the next thing on the agenda.”
Source: Jeffery Segal media