Jeff Segal and Max Papis Give R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari 458 Italia First GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Podium

Jeff Segal and Max Papis Give R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari 458 Italia First GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Podium

02.06.2013: ...with Third-Place Showing at Detroit Papis Leads From Pole as Segal Pressures Leaders to the Finish; Emil Assentato and Anthony

...with Third-Place Showing at Detroit



Papis Leads From Pole as Segal Pressures Leaders to the Finish; Emil Assentato and Anthony Lazzaro Endure Challenging Run to Seventh in No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari 458 Italia


 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari, and drivers Jeff Segal and Max Papis, scored its first and long overdue podium finish Saturday in the GRAND-AM Detroit 200 at Belle Isle to put the crowning touch on the first-year team’s best weekend performance to date in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.


After earning the team’s and AIM Autosport’s first GT pole in Friday qualifying, Papis led all 33 laps of his race opening stint. He pitted at the one-hour mark to hand the Ferrari off to Segal who kept the No. 61’s competitive pace up to finish despite rejoining the race in third. The clearly dominant car and drivers of the weekend, the difference between third and first place for the No. 61 came down to a split-second or so in what was the team’s only pit stop.


“I am really proud of the effort of R.Ferri/AIM racing,” Papis said. “We came here with a task to win and we were up there fighting for what we deserved. Obviously, when you come in the pits first and come out third you have a little bit of a bittersweet feeling, but we were in contention and that is what we count, and I am really proud of all the guys too. I feel that step-by-step we are showing that we are getting to where we want to and this is a great beginning to the rest of our season.”


While Papis won the pole on Friday, Segal posted that day’s fastest practice time and pressured the first and second place finishers to the line in today’s race. He set the No. 61 team’s fastest race lap on lap 43.


“It was a great weekend, practice and qualifying went exactly according to plan and we just dominated all of Friday’s running,” Segal said. “We were always fastest and then today we led the majority of the race, but we just got beat by probably under a second in pit lane. That was enough for the 57 and 63 cars to sneak by in the pits but we had a great car.”


Segal stayed locked to the race-winning No. 57 Camaro and runner-up No. 63 Ferrari but the tight 13-turn, 2.36-mile street circuit has few places to make a risk-free pass. “We were turning really competitive lap times, stayed right there, but it is tough around this place,” Segal said.


 “The two guys in front of me drove a flawless race and we really didn’t have a lot of green running time anyway. We just didn’t have enough time or any huge advantage to get it done. I guess Detroit is kind of like our Monaco where you see some cars much faster than others but they just can’t make a pass without risking contact. We will take it, but we are still hungry for that win.”


R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport owner Remo Ferri was delighted with his new team’s best weekend of racing to date.


“I think we came here with an agenda to do much better than we did in the past and I am really pleased with what we did,” Ferri said. “We could have won, yes we could have won with a better pit stop, but that is racing. You learn every time. We have a good car and going forward we will fight for the lead that is for sure.”


While the No. 61 had its best weekend of the season, the No. 69 AIM/FXDD team was left wondering how their equally as strong Ferrari 458 could turn so wrong in Saturday’s race.


“Overall the weekend was fantastic up until the race,” Lazzaro said. “We unloaded really fast, Emil did a great job in the first stint, and we came out of the pit stops seventh and then got up to sixth. But the tires I had, I have never had this much under steer on a set of tires this year. On the start it was bad, it was really causing me issues, and it was like the balance changed suddenly.


“Great car, we hadn’t touched it all weekend, and all of a sudden we had huge under steer,” Lazzaro said. “On the last restart it was massively bad, Patrick Long got by me, there was just no way I was going to keep him off. I pulled away from him on an earlier restart but on the second one it was just horrible.”


Assentato shared his teammate’s disappointment. “All in all, it was kind of disappointing, we had a good car until the last stint, and I am just not sure what happened,” Assentato said. “The tires went away on Anthony and unfortunately we finished seventh. We were looking for a podium this weekend and it didn’t happen.”


Despite the No. 69’s rare off day, AIM Autosport principal Andrew Bordin was pleased with the team’s overall weekend.

“This weekend was a very positive step,” Bordin said. “We have really been working hard on the set-up over the last month, but we knew what we needed, and have very experienced drivers. We tried to get back to basics and run the car within the zone it is supposed to be and I think you saw much quicker cars this weekend which allows the drivers to be much more relaxed.


“Every time you expand you shake up the primary group a touch but we always knew we had great basic setups,” Bordin said. “The racing this year has been a lot different, very intense and competitive, and we got caught out some times and had our hands full. That is part of it, what happens when you expand, but it is worth it.”


Both the R.Ferri/AIM and AIM/FXDD Ferraris are in the thick of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championships after the year’s only street race in Detroit. Assentato and Lazzaro are fourth in the GT driver standings with 125 points while the No. 69 ranks third in the team standings with the same points total. Segal, Papis and the No. 61 entry also took a solid jump in the standings to 120 points which ranks the drivers seventh and the team sixth.


Next up for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the mid-season race at Mid- Ohio Sports Car Course, June 14 -15.


“Both Anthony and like Mid-Ohio,” Assentato said. “Great track, I like it for me, relative to the other tracks I race at, I tend to be a little bit better there than some of the other tracks, so that is good for us. We are just going to punch away and see how we come out.”


- Conrad Italiano -   photo by Halston Pitman

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02.06.2013 / MaP

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