No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Ferrari 458 Italia Team Rebounds from Early Season Woes

By Max Papis Racing | April 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Max Papis and Jeff Segal Score Season-Best Fourth-Place Finish For R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari at Barber Motorsports Park

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (April 6, 2013) – The No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari team, and drivers Jeff Segal and Max Papis, finally had a race result they have been looking for while the sister No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari, and drivers Emil Assentato and Anthony Lazzaro, had a race from which they may want to quickly move on Saturday in the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Ferrari 458 Italia teammates started side-by-side on row four but soon found different fortunes in the timed two-hour race on the scenic 2.3-mile Alabama road course.

 Starting driver Papis quickly moved the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Ferrari from the seventh starting spot into a top-five position he and Segal would maintain the entire race. Papis raced to as high as third before handing off to Segal early in the race’s final hour.

“I really enjoyed the battle we had in the beginning with the other cars,” Papis said. “Obviously, this track does not suit the Ferrari as much as we thought, but it is OK, you can’t always have a leg up on the handling. I felt like we more or less finished right where we belonged, maybe one position behind, because a podium might have been a possibility.”

 After the No. 61 team’s driver change, Segal returned to the race in sixth but quickly moved up to a fourth place position the R.Ferri/AIM Ferrari would hold to the finish.

“It was a good race for us,” Segal said. “It was definitely a bit of a shot in the arm, we really needed to put it all together and we did today. The lack of total dry practice made setup a total gamble. For the greasy track we had today, and the higher temperatures, we just weren’t where we needed to be on setup. We made the most of the situation and fourth is nothing to be too unhappy about. It’s good points, it sort of gets us in the game, and we know now that when we have a good car, and we execute like we did today, we will be on the podium. That’s where we should be.”

While the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Ferrari nearly hit the podium, the No. 69 FXDD/AIM Ferrari struggled to get any higher than its eighth-place starting position and eventually crossed the finish line in ninth.

“It was kind of the perfect storm of errors,” Lazzaro said. “Emil did a really good job in his stint and we had a really good pit stop. I got in and it was OK, having not raced here before, and with only 10 laps in somewhat dry conditions on slicks, but I made two mistakes. I had the pit lane speed limiter on accidentally and got caught up in major traffic, and that ultimately cost me two positions. Then later on I spun.

“The insult to injury is that I really needed to run with somebody, but all I did was run by myself,” Lazzaro said. “I needed more experience at the track, there’s no doubt, and I think my learning curve would have been much better running with people versus without people. That’s the bottom line. Hopefully ninth place is our worst finish of the year and we can move on.”

Assentato was pleased that the No. 69 AIM/FDD Ferrari came home in one piece but is already looking forward to a better run at the next race.

“It is always good to get the car back in the garage in one piece,” Assentato said. “No damage, it gives the team less work to do before the next race, but quite frankly I was disappointed with my stint. I was struggling with the car, in some places it was more me than the car, but we made a change on a pit stop and that cost us a little. I think we missed the setup in general but we will do a better job at Road Atlanta.”

Despite the tough day in Alabama, the reigning champion No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari entry remains a factor in the early-season GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team standings. The No. 69 now has 73 points to rank third, just five points out of first place. Assentato and Lazzaro rank fourth in the GT Driver Championship standings with the same points tally, and just five markers shy of first place.

The No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari team has also entered the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT championship picture after today’s race. The No. 61 is seventh in the team standings with 65 points while Segal and Papis have cracked the top-10 for the first time this year in the driver championship in ninth with the same points total.

“Overall, I am really pleased with how we applied our strategy today, how we used our tools the best way we could,” Papis said. “This weekend I can say that we were one position away from optimum. It was OK to finish, but we are not here to just finish, but we have to start somewhere after two tough races to start the season. They should all look out for us at Road Atlanta.”

Next up in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the debut GRAND-AM Road Racing event at Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Georgia, April 18 – 20. That weekend’s featured GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race can be seen live on SPEED, Saturday, April 20, at 4:30 p.m. EDT/1:30 p.m. PDT.




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