AIM Autosport Team FXDD and R.Ferri AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari Teams Set to Continue and Establish Momentum in Inaugural GRAND-AM of The Americas in AustinBy Max Papis Racing | March 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm
AUSTIN, Texas (February 28, 2013) – AIM Autosport Team FXDD and R.Ferri AIM Motorsport will be looking to continue the season-opening momentum of one of its Ferrari F458s and establish some for the other in this weekend’s inaugural GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at Circuit of The Americas, March 1 – 2.
The featured GRAND-AM of The Americas presented by GAINSCO and TOTAL is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. CST local time this Saturday, March 2, and can be seen later that day on SPEED at 5:30 p.m. EST/2:30 p.m. PST.
The No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari F458 finished a strong third in last month’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona where lead drivers Emil Assentato and Anthony Lazzaro were joined by Nick Longhi and Mark Wilkins.
In the same race, the No. 61 R.Ferri AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari F458, anchored by lead drivers Jeff Segal and Max Papis, was often the fastest car on the track despite being plagued by a string of nagging electrical issues. Along with Rolex 24 co-drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander, Segal, Papis and the No. 61 were classified 21
“If there was any season that the No. 69 car needed to finish Daytona in a good points position, it is this one,” Assentato. “This year will be the toughest in the way of competition than any of the preceding years. It may be hard to believe but, just like Daytona this year was the toughest most competitive Rolex 24 in history, I think the rest of the year may shape up the same way!”
After winning two of the last three GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT championships with Segal, Lazzaro has joined in this year as the fulltime teammate in the No. 69.
“The Rolex 24 result was pretty huge,” Lazzaro said. “Stepping into the championship-winning car this year, it is a well-oiled machine that Jeff, Emil and Nick Longhi included have all put together. So for me to step into that ride was really quite a privilege. We have the benefit of their expertise from last year, so we got a really great result at Daytona and it always good to go into the second race, this year at Austin, with a really good points situation. We are really looking forward to it and hopefully we can get another good result.”
With the winning Rolex 24 car from the Daytona opener not entered at Austin, the No. 69 AIM/FXDD Ferrari team heads to the inaugural Texas event basically just two points out of the GT championship points lead.
The No. 61 R.Ferri AIM Ferrari team, with Segal and Papis as season-long co-drivers, in turn just wants to deal itself back into the early season championship picture with a solid result in Austin.
“The Rolex 24 was not what we were expecting,” Papis said. “We were the fastest car in the field but we really couldn’t capitalize on that. What I am looking at is taking advantage of every single race that we have from now on to showcase what R.Ferri AIM Racing is. We want to win races, win poles and prove our abilities on the track.”
Segal is hoping to use some recent Ferrari Challenge driver coaching experience to his advantage in Saturday’s race. He coached Ferrari Challenge competitors at last November’s inaugural Formula 1 race and has returned in the same role with the series in the last few weeks. He expects the excitement and energized atmosphere he encountered in his recent visits to be back in full force for this weekend’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series debut.
“I have no doubt that this event, this circuit, and this city will more than live up to the level of excitement that they have created,” Segal said. “I was fortunate to be there for the inaugural Formula One race, and it was an amazing event, with an unbelievable atmosphere in the crowd. The scale and quality of the track facility is on a different level from any of the other new tracks we’ve seen in North America, and I really feel like it is a privilege to be able to compete at this spectacular place.”
A two-day event, the inaugural GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at The Circuit of the Americas includes practice and qualifying on Friday. Race-day Saturday begins with a final 20-minute practice session at 8:30 a.m. before the featured GRAND-AM of The Americas presented by GAINSCO and TOTAL at 3 p.m. local time. An unofficial track test day is also scheduled for Thursday.
- Segal isn’t the only member of the R.Ferri or FXDD team who has had some laps on the Circuit of The Americas before this weekend. “I have been there just a little bit,” Lazzaro said. “I was coaching the Ferrari Challenge series there on the Formula 1 race weekend and I have done a little bit with both the Ferrari guys and the IMSA Prototype Lite cars. I think Jeff recently has been there quite a bit with the Ferrari Challenge cars so, between the two of us, we should have something good to draw from. I have probably about 10 hard laps in a Ferrari Challenge car and another 10 in a Lites car. I also got quite a few in a new FF Ferrari and that was pretty nice.”
- Excitement and community buzz aside, teams and drivers will have to conquer a challenging Circuit of The Americas course if they want to truly enjoy the visit to Austin with a victory. “The biggest thing for me is the elevation change, and not just in Turn 1 where you can see it clearly,” Segal said. All throughout the track the road rises and plunges, and creates a lot of blind corners, making it really difficult to figure out where you need to place the car. The first half of the track is really high speed, and has a long sequence of corners, so you really can’t afford to make any mistakes, or you will lose loads of time. It’s a great challenge!”
- Papis is making his Circuit of The America debut but is familiar with Austin for another good reason. “Austin is a special place for me,” Papis said. “It is close to the headquarters of Live Strong, which I represent and am really proud of, and it is a place where I have spent a lot of time in the past. The race track looks amazing. It looks like a combination of some of the best tracks I have ever raced on. It has esses like Suzuka, hairpins similar to Laguna Seca, a lot of challenges and it is definitely one of the best layouts I have seen. I am truly looking forward to running there.”