MIAMI (April 15, 2009) -- The Rolex Sports Car Series will be back in action next weekend for the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway. The race is the second event on the 2009 Rolex Series calendar, and the first since the ...
MIAMI (April 15, 2009) -- The Rolex Sports Car Series will be back in action next weekend for the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway. The race is the second event on the 2009 Rolex Series calendar, and the first since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. So it comes as no surprise that Jeff Segal is impatient to get back to racing.
Heading to a track that's a unanimous driver favorite, VIR has a special place in Segal's heart, as it was the site where he clinched his first professional championship with his KONI Challenge GS Class championship in 2007 with Jep Thornton. Now, as he returns to the 3.27-mile, 17-turn track, the Miami, Fla., resident looks to make his way back to victory lane, this time triumphing in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT competition.
In 2008, Segal made the move up to run a full season campaign piloting the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 with Emil Assentato. After a strong race finish in the 24, Segal appeared to be podium bound at VIR as he ran third for much of his stint before a puncture sent him to the pits and out of contention. But that pace would not be denied, as Segal scored a big win with Assentato and co-driver Nick Longhi as the trio took the top spot in the Sahlen's 6 Hours of the Glen.
This year, his Mazda RX-8 took the checkered flag to start the season with a top ten at Daytona, and while Segal had been hoping for more, he can already find reason to smile. He was among the quickest in last month's two-day test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Mazda RX-8, and has grown accustomed to the Pirelli tire, which became the official race tire of the Grand-Am Rolex Series in 2008.
"The entire SpeedSource team has done an excellent job putting together a strong car for Emil and myself to run over the entire Rolex Series season," said Segal. "We've been competitive on these longer tracks and definitely showed our strength at VIR last year. We just didn't get the results we were looking for. There have been some rule changes that haven't gone in our favor, but if we can get the most out of the RX-8 and the Pirelli's, we should have a solid chance. We are up against some very fast equipment."
"The Pirelli tire is definitely fun to run on, and the RX-8 on Pirellis has definitely been a competitive package," continued Segal, who alluded to SpeedSource's four victories in 2008 with two different cars. "The combination has shown a lot of speed wherever we go, and I expect to see that at any track we visit. Mazda has been great to work with; they've shown a lot of support. Now, we just need to put two and two together for a solid result."
While his Rolex effort continues at full speed, the 2007 Champion continues to work on finding the right competitive environment to keep his KONI resume growing after missing the recent Grand-Am Fan Appreciation Weekend at Homestead-Miami.
Segal looked set to make a KONI ST Class start at Homestead after setting some impressive times in the No.24 V-Pack Motorsport BMW 330i during the promoter test day, but race-day illness kept him from converting that pace into a shot at another KONI podium.
But that doesn't mean he isn't still pushing for a part or fulltime KONI Challenge ride, however. Segal said he wants to return to the series. His past suggests running a BMW, as he competed for Automatic Racing for two seasons in the Grand Sport class with a title in 2007 and third-place points in 2008. But that's not definite -- yet.
"Nothing is set in stone at this point," Segal said, "but I've competed in this series for the past two seasons and want to keep racing there because it is so competitive. That's what I look for as a driver. I've talked to a few people and hopefully will have something to announce soon."
The Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 25.