The no. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia started the race in ninth position in the GT-Am class.
Le Mans, France - The waving of the French tricolour on Saturday afternoon marked not only the start of the 83rd 24 Hours of Le Mans, but also the culmination of season's worth of planning for Scuderia Corsa. The no. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia, driven by Jeff Segal, started the race in ninth position in the GT-Am class.
Fingers will be crossed for 24 hours.
Segal deftly moved the Ferrari to sixth position before handing the car over to Bill Sweedler, who then turned it over to Townsend Bell after two trouble free stints. The trio of drivers, the only All-American drivers lineup in the GT-Am class and one of only two in the race, are rookies competing in their first 24 Hours of Le Mans.
As the race approached the completion of the eighth hour, Segal was back behind the wheel running in fifth position in GT-Am class.
Jeff Segal: "Really, I'm relieved to get my first stint over with. There is a lot of pressure in the build up to this race, it's a three week endeavor in addition to many months, and years, of planning. But finally, once the race began, I found that the Ferrari was really good and we were able to find a lot of pace, which was nice because we didn't have a lot of practice in good conditions.
So, it's nice to see that the car is fast and competitive and nice to drive. We are seeing already that other cars are having problems, so we need to stay out of trouble and keep doing what we are doing which is running quick, not taking too many chances, taking a position here and there when we can.
The traffic is incredible. The LMP1 cars are so fast and you get passed by five or six of them and it can get really, really difficult at night. I guess for now I am enjoying the ease of daylight. "
Bill Sweedler: "From the start on, this is a pretty special place. You can see with all the fans, the support, the factories that are here and the history it is pretty amazing to get out there and literally be dicing it amongst all of the best teams in the world. It is exciting, really, and I can't wait to get back in the Ferrari and think about where I can improve and how I can make myself better. Fingers will be crossed for 24 hours.
After driving in the ALMS and now the TUDOR Championship, it kind of prepares you for the traffic - Sebring is as difficult as it gets. Clearly the LMP1 cars are very fast, so once you see them in your mirror you know they are going to get by you pretty quickly. The LMP2 cars are a little more difficult, but the LMP1 cars go right by you."
Townsend Bell: "I was pretty relaxed for the start of the race, just because we've done a couple of 24 hour races at Daytona and I've gotten used to that. But then I got out there, had a conservative approach, and I think halfway through the first stint I really started racing pretty hard and I had to calm myself down and remind myself that it's a long race.
I tried to focus on the balance of the Ferrari and giving good feedback so we can make the car as strong as we can for the end of the race. The balance is good, and we are learning the temperature and pressure that the tires like and that will be the biggest factor at the end of the race."