Jeff Segal gives R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari 458 team first podium finish with third place showing in Detroit with co-driver Max Papis.
DETROIT – Jeff Segal gave the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari 458 Italia team its first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series podium finish Saturday at the GRAND-AM Detroit 200, pressuring the race leaders to the finish in a third-place showing with co-driver Max Papis.
Segal and his R.Ferri/AIM teammates were frequently the fastest car at several races, in addition to solid practice and qualifying efforts, but only had a season-high fourth-place showing at Barber Motorsports Park to show for it. That all changed this weekend in the Motor City where the No. 61 was fast off the truck, Segal topped Friday practice, Papis put the R.Ferri/AIM Ferrari on the pole and the duo led or challenged for the top spot all race long.
“We are definitely where we belong and we had a winning effort this weekend,” Segal said. “It is great to be back on the podium, great to be up at the sharp end of the field, and I am sure there will be more of that for us, but we are looking for wins.”
Saturday’s race was Segal’s best showing since scoring multiple race wins and the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championship, his second GT title in the three years.
“Last year was a great a season for me, that is sort of the benchmark for me now, and I want that again,” Segal said. “We started off this season with a couple of lean races and now we need to make up for it. Being on the podium is a start but we need to win a few of these.”
A win could have easily been in the cards Saturday but a split-second difference in the pits put Segal on track in third after the No. 61 led the race’s opening 33 laps. Segal posted the team’s fastest race lap on lap 43 while staying locked on the winning first-place No. 57 Camaro and runner-up No. 63 Ferrari. Despite the pressure, Segal couldn’t find a safe place to pass on the tight 13-turn, 2.36-mile street circuit.
“There wasn’t an opportunity to get by the 63,” Segal said. “He drove exactly the way he needed to which was to put pressure on the 57 car but he never left the door open enough for me. For us right now, we are looking to make improvement, and a DNF was not what we were looking for. A podium is OK and it is encouraging we have a good car and all of the bugs out of the team. We are ready to go racing.”
Some diligent off-track work in the six-week break leading into Detroit paid off for Segal and his teammates with their new venture.
“Last year was great year but this year we started really with a clean sheet,” Segal said. “We have all new people on the 61 car and it took time to bring everything together. Being involved in that process, and helping give input from being with GT teams in the past, has been very helpful, but for us making the car work for both me and Max was very important.
I know what I like, the team knows what I like, but now we have a new important ingredient in the mix, and we are finally at that point where we have a car that we can both drive quickly.”
Next up for Jeff Segal and R.Ferri/AIM Autosport is the mid-season GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, June 14 – 15.
“Mid-Ohio is a track where my results have always been good,” Segal said. “I seem glued to the podium there, so that is very encouraging, and we are going there to win. I am not interested in seeing another Camaro win another race. We are going to take one and I know that is a track where our team feels pretty confident.
We have the right setups, the drivers have the right experience, and we are going to try and do the same exact thing we did this weekend. Hopefully we can push it all the way to the end of the race instead of just the first pit stop.”
R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing