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AGHAKHANI: Perfect Weekend… Almost Perfect Season

Steven Aghakhani files his latest column after Sebring sweep of season finale weekend…

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

Perfect isn’t a word you often hear in motorsports, but I honestly can’t think of another way to describe how our No. 6 SADA Systems/US RaceTronics Lamborghini Huracán team performed at the season-ending Super Trofeo North America race at Sebring International Raceway.

Along with my incredible co-driver Jacob Eidson and the entire team, we pulled off a truly perfect race where we took the battle for the series championship down to the wire with a double victory.

After pacing Thursday practice, Jacob and I each won the overall and Pro class poles later that day in the split qualifying sessions.

It was the second time this year, after VIR back in August, that Jacob and I swept the poles for a Super Trofeo weekend, but this time around the celebration was a little bit shorter.

We were happy to pick up the pair of single points that go along with Super Trofeo poles, but we knew the only way were going to have a chance at catching the Pro championship-leading Change Racing No. 16 entry was to pull off another sweep in Friday’s twin races.

With the poles locked down, we immediately shifted focus to a critical 100 minutes of racing on Friday.

The same-day doubleheader schedule was pretty cool and fit the fast pace of our “mission critical” task at hand.

We knew what we had to do and showed up ready to get on with it. We were checking off the boxes and the twin races couldn’t come quickly enough.

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

At the start of Friday’s race, things got pretty tight in the fast run into Turn 1. The No. 16 tried to go outside, couldn’t hold it and lost control a little.

With the start and our title rival behind me, I just zeroed in on ripping off laps and building as much of a gap as I could for Jacob.

The focus quickly paid off, and I set the fastest time of the race on Lap 2 of 2:02.546, which – for a few hours at least – was a new track record.

Our driver change stop was timed perfectly, and I pitted with a six-second advantage.

Jacob took over and, after a great stop, returned in the lead. He maintained a comfortable gap on the field and even had some room to ease up a little to save the car at the end, cruising to a 3.637 second margin of victory.

The No. 16 never really recovered from the opening lap move and finished fourth.

With just Friday afternoon’s final race remaining in the season, we were suddenly just six points out of the championship.

The title was in reach, but to get there we had to keep doing what we were doing for another 50 minutes.

The only thing I like better than starting a race is watching my teammate Jacob drop the hammer at the green flag.

He did just that for the finale and absolutely flew in his opening stint. I had no problem when he broke my track record with the fastest race lap of 2:02.535!

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

I took over after US RaceTronics nailed it once again in their final pit stop of the season on Lamborghini, which put us back into the race still in the lead.

After not seeing the No. 16 after Turn 1 in the first race, there it was in my mirrors in my final stint of 2020.

We were too close to achieving our weekend goal to let in bother me, however, and I felt more than comfortable taking the checkered flag with a 0.936-second margin of victory to complete the amazingly perfect Sebring performance.

We cut the points lead in half with the second win but needed another fourth place from the No. 16 to take the title.

We did everything we could, but unfortunately, they held on for second and there was only so much we could do about it.

We topped the series with four wins to the No. 16’s three on the season and ended up second in the championship to them by just three points after coming into the weekend a full 15 points behind.

Of course, we absolutely wanted to win the championship, but we came into the finale focused on looking ahead and not dwelling on what didn’t go our way this year.

I’m super proud of the team. Everyone put in a lot of effort to make this car as fast as it is, and a lot of people don’t see that.

It really is a team effort, and we need all of them to be this competitive.

We did everything we possibly could at Sebring. We were just happy to be there, finally able to go racing again in a challenging year.

It wasn’t until I got home a few days after Sebring that I realized I actually completed my first full season in a professional racing in a year in which so many things didn’t even begin or were postponed and cancelled.

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

Last year’s Super Trofeo North America championship started when I was 15, too young to compete in IMSA, and I missed the first race.

I made up for it in part by winning the World Finals in Jerez at the end of the year, but I still wanted a full season back home

We were delayed four months due to the COVID-19 shutdown, but I want to thank everyone at IMSA, Lamborghini and the various circuit operators in the U.S. for working so hard to make 2020’s full-season happen.

The 2021 season can’t come soon enough. It brings with it new opportunity and some exciting new circuits we are very excited about.

The preparation starts now, and before the end of they year I will be on Sportscar365 again with another column on everything we are doing in and out of the car to get ready for 2021.

Until then, stay safe and healthy and have a great Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for everyone who makes it possible for this 17-year-old to live the dream of racing professionally.

That includes my father Armik Aghakhani, SADA Systems, Carney Shegerian and all our dedicated sponsors, and the huge group of family, friends and fans that are always there for us.

Thank you to all of you taking the time to read this and to Sportscar365 as well for kindly providing this space all year. I will check in again in December.

Steven Aghakhani is a 17-year-old championship-winning driver, competing in the 2020 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Pro class with US RaceTronics and Vincenzo Sospiri Racing in the Italian GT Championship.

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