Top Canadian Indy Car and road racing star Alex Tagliani will partner reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT co-Champion Jeff Segal in the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Autosport Racing with Ferrari 458 Italia at next weekend’s inaugural GRAND-AM Road Racing SFP Grand Prix at Kansas Speedway, August 16 – 17.
Tagliani will be filling in for regular No. 61R.Ferri/AIM Ferrari driver Max Papis who was previously committed to the NASCAR Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The announcement aligns Quebec-native Tagliani, one of Canada’s top racing stars of the last two decades, with fellow Canadians Remo Ferri and AIM Autosport team principals Ian Willis and Andrew Bordin for the first time.
“It’s not every day that a driver has the chance to drive a red Ferrari in racing, and doing it for R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport means even more,” Tagliani said. “I have a great respect for Ian as an engineer and Andrew, whom I raced against. They have been long-time friends on and off track. Driving Remo’s car is a great opportunity and an honor for a Canadian-born driver with Italian heritage. Remo is such a passionate guy for motorsports and I can already feel a great vibe in this team.”
Tagliani and Ferri share their Canadian-Italian heritage and a passionate and enthusiastic connection to motorsports and Ferrari.
“I am delighted to have Alex Tagliani drive for our team and for Ferrari in Kansas,” said Ferri, No. 61 team principal and owner. “He’s a passionate and intense racer and having a Canadian driver on our Canadian team means a lot to our country’s racing programs. He brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to our program and is a perfect fit for us in Kansas.”
Tagliani will join Segal, the two-time and reigning GT co-champion, at the wheel of the No. 61 just two races after the R.Ferri/AIM team won its first race last month in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Segal, Papis and the R.Ferri/AIM team have been competitive and on the pace at every race this year but finally had the luck to match their performance at Indy.
“Teaming with Jeff Segal, one of the top drivers in the Rolex Series, will allow me to learn a great deal about driving these cars,” Tagliani said. “I fully intend to support the team in the best way that I can, and contribute to the best result possible.”
Another No. 61 team win with Tagliani partnering Segal is more than a realistic possibility in Kansas.
“I am very happy having a driver the caliber of Alex join our team for Kansas,” Segal said. “He’s a top-flight driver who has won races and poles in Indy Car. The Kansas banking is a pretty big part of that track. His experience on those types of ovals, in addition to his road racing ability, is all pretty exciting for our team. I am really looking forward to meeting Alex and racing with him.”
Willis is the Chief Technical Officer for AIM Autosport that fields both the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM entry and the sister No. 69 Team FXDD AIM Autosport Racing with Ferrari 458 Italia of Emil Assentato and Anthony Lazzaro in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series. Segal co-drove the No. 69 FXDD/AIM Ferrari with Assentato to last year’s GT title.
“I am looking forward to having Alex join us at the Kansas race,” Willis said. “When Alex became available we jumped at the chance to give him an opportunity to drive in place of Max who has other commitments that weekend. We have known Alex for many years, dating back to when AIM was first formed in the mid-1990s, and it will be great to have him as part of our team finally.”
While Tagliani is new to R.Ferri/AIM, he brings a great deal of sports car and road racing experience to the team despite being best known for his winning Indy Car accomplishments.
“My first experience driving sports cars was a few years ago in a Ford Mustang for Black Forest,” Tagliani said. Last year in Montreal I drove in both the Daytona Prototype and NASCAR Nationwide Series, qualifying the Nationwide car on pole. I was lucky to drive again in Daytona Prototype at Laguna Seca, finishing that race on the podium. I’m very much looking forward to driving in the GRAND-AM series again. I feel this is a great opportunity”
Tagliani most recently competed in Indy Car with Bryan Herta Autosport. In 2011 he had won back-to-back poles, including the Indianapolis 500 during its centennial year. In total, since the beginning of his career in open wheel racing, Tagliani has accumulated eight wins, 10 pole positions, 24 podiums and 35 top-10 finishes.
In addition to V8 Supercar and the sports car prototype and GT experience, Tagliani has also made his mark in Canadian NASCAR races. He started from the front row in each of the last two runnings of the Montreal NASCAR race, winning the pole last year and finishing second from the outside front row starting spot in the No. 12 Penske Racing entry to race-winner Marcos Ambrose in the 2011.
Next up for R.Ferri/AIM Autosport Racing with Ferrari and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 this weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 8 – 10. The featured VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 can be seen live on SPEED at 5 p.m. EDT/2 p.m. PDT this Saturday, August 10.Alex Tagliani, GRAND-AM, Max Papis, Sports Cars