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Jun 28, 2013 - 08:49 AM
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R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport and AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari 458 Italias Look to Launch Championship Run
Posted by: newsla on Jun 28, 2013 - 08:47 AM
Grand Am News
R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport and AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari 458 Italias Look to Launch Championship Run


The No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport and No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari 458 Italia teams will be looking to launch a championship and race-winning run as the second half of the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Season begins this weekend, June 28 – 30, at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

 

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Round 7 of 2013’s 12-race schedule, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen airs live on SPEED at 11 a.m. EDT/8 a.m. PDT this Sunday, June 30.

The Sahlen’s is the second endurance race of the year following the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Finnish factory Ferrari driver Toni Vilander joined the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM team for that race and returns to co-drive with Segal and Papis this weekend for the six-hour race at Watkins Glen International.

On the No. 69 AIM/FXDD front, Leh Keen, an experienced Ferrari driver in international competition and two-time Rolex Series GT Champion, will run his debut race with AIM and his first in a “Prancing Horse” in GRAND-AM competition. Keen will team with season-long No. 69 drivers Emil Assentato and Anthony Lazzaro.

Both the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM and No. 69 AIM/FXDD Ferraris have reached the podium at least once this year, but the expanded two-car team is still looking for its first 2013 victory. Assentato and Lazzaro scored the team’s most recent podium showing two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Course where they finished third for the second time this season.

“We were happy to get on the podium at Mid-Ohio, although the drama of the last few laps helped us get there,” Assentato said. “But we have a lot of work ahead of us for this season, and a win would go a long way to helping our championship hopes. The Six Hours at the Glen is an iconic event at an iconic track. Anthony and I need to at least get on the podium again and with the help of Leh Keen we might get on the top step.”

Segal and Papis finished third in the No. 61 for their only podium showing of the season two races ago in Detroit. They also had a car capable of winning at Mid-Ohio only to literally be knocked from contention after being hit in the pits by a rival just as Segal was making a move for the lead.

“Mid-Ohio had a lot of positives and ultimately our downfall was totally out of our control,” Segal said. “We had a strong car, good strategy and great pit stops and you can't ask for much more than that! This bodes well for the rest of the season, but it is definitely frustrating that we are still waiting for the race result that the team has worked so hard to achieve. I'm sure that if we keep running races like we did at Mid-Ohio, wins will come.”

The first podium result of the year for the expanded R.Ferri/AIM and AIM/FXDD operation came in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona where Assentato and Lazzaro co-drove with additional drivers Mark Wilkins and Nick Longhi to a third-place showing. All three of the R.Ferri/AIM and AIM/FXDD team’s combined podium results this season have been third- place showings.

“Lucky third at Mid-Ohio helps keep the dream alive but we need to win out right on pace,” Lazzaro said. “We need more top speed to compete. Longer races offer more opportunity to win, and the team was on the podium last year, so we need to get back, but on the top step. Leh should be a big help with that, looking forward to having him on the team.”

Although they have split ranks this year within the AIM organization, Segal and Assentato co-drove the No. 69 Ferrari to the duo’s second GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championship in three years in 2012, a successful season that included a third-place finish in the Sahlen’s.

“Last year, we had a good car at Watkins Glen so that definitely helps our confidence heading into this weekend,” Segal said. “Having said that, a lot has changed in a year. Other brands have had a lot of rules concessions from the series and I think that it is pretty telling that a Ferrari hasn't seen victory lane yet in 2013. We've been thereabouts all year, but to win against such strong competition everything needs to be perfect. We need to put together a perfect race weekend, and I think we can compete for the win.”

Segal, Assentato and Longhi co-drove to their first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race wins for FXDD in the 2008 Sahlen’s Six Hours.

“In recent times, I have had good luck at Watkins Glen,” Assentato said. Back in 2002 I was on the podium twice, once for the win in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series and third place in the six hour the next day. Then again in 2008 Jeff and I won our first GT race together in the six hour that year. That was one of the best wins as it was our first!!”

The AIM/FXDD Ferrari squad comes to The Glen solidly positioned in its 2012 championship title defense in fifth place in both the team and driver standings with 155 points, just 14 points out of the lead in both championships.

The No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM team is not out of the championship running and a strong result at the Sahlen’s could be a major in a title run. Both the No. 61 and Segal and Papis rank seventh in the respective team and driver standings with 143 points.

A three-day weekend event, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen begins with practice Friday afternoon. Saturday includes only morning track time with final practice at 9 a.m. and GT qualifying at 11:05 a.m. Race-day Sunday’s only on-track GRAND-AM Rolex Series activity is the featured Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen that is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. EDT.

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