Jeff Segal Kicks Off Rolex Series GT Title Defense
DAYTONA BEACH, January 8, 2011: Defending GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GT champion Jeff Segal took his first step toward what he hopes is a successful title defense and an all-out assault on his first Rolex 24 At Daytona GT-class victory as the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 three-day test got underway at Daytona International Speedway today.
Co-driving the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 alongside his 2010 co-champion Emil Assentato and Rolex 24 co-drivers Nick Longhi, Anthony Lazzaro and Nick Ham, Segal’s best lap on the brand-new Daytona pavement was a 1:52.113 (114.313 mph), which was 14th in the GT class for the day.
“We’re still working through a lot of major setup changes for the Continental Tires,” said Segal. “This is their first time at Daytona, first time on this pavement. Needless to say there was a lot to learn and it wasn’t really what we expected it to be, so we had a lot of different things to throw at the car today. We struggled a little bit but we found the time a little bit this afternoon versus this morning. We’re still a long ways off the front of the pack in GT but we have some ideas on how to get there, so that’s what we’ve got the next two days for.”
Segal and the team are back with resolve to conquer the Rolex 24, scheduled for January 27 – 30 at the “World’s Center of Racing.” While 2010 was a dream season in many ways, last year’s Rolex 24 represented a low point for the No. 69 team with a 16th-place class result.
Immediately following the Rolex 24 disappointment, however, Segal and Assentato quickly settled into a rhythm that carried them through the rest of the season. The duo amassed an impressive run of 10 consecutive top-five finishes, including back-to-back wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park, en route to the title.
“Last year I thought that we had a really good shot at the Rolex 24 but I never in a million years thought we could win the championship,” Segal said. “I just didn’t think we had that kind of consistency. I was wrong. We didn’t win the 24, but we did win the championship. It was a great year, but unfortunately, it’s last year. As soon as we started testing for this year it all went out the window so it was fantastic, but all it did was really raise the bar of what’s acceptable for this year, which will make this year a little bit harder, but that’s okay.”