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AGHAKHANI: Rolling With the Changes into 2021

Steven Aghakhani files his final Sportscar365 column of the year…

Photo: Supplied

Before I get into my final Sportscar365 column of the year I want to wish all of you – particularly after the bizarre and challenging 2020 we have all endured – a safe and successful Happy New Year.

For those of us in professional IMSA sports car racing, 2021 has already seen some changes before we’ve even turned the calendar page, and I for one have no problem with it.

Along with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and other racing series, 2021’s season-opening IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America race that was to be in April at Laguna Seca has been moved to September.

No surprise, the schedule change is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the situation in my home state of California.

It’s also no surprise that IMSA and the management of WeatherTech Raceway stayed ahead of it and grabbed a September date for a race that is important to everyone and the main event of the year for me and our primarily California-based sponsors and team, US RaceTronics.

The main thing is making sure announced races happen safely, and IMSA and the event organizers did a great job with that this year.

We all want to start the 2021 season as soon as possible, but if moving Laguna Seca to September helps ensure the race will happen at all, I am all for it.

We can push races back months later because in the end it will help us all go racing. We will still have the chance to drive these amazing machines at these amazing tracks and get to enjoy every single second of it, even if it means having to wait a few more months to do it.

The move now means our Lamborghini Super Trofeo season-opening race will be at Circuit of The Americas in May, and I also have no problem with that. In fact, I am pretty pumped about it!

Photo: Brian Cleary/MB USA

To this day, COTA is still my favorite track ever. In my debut there in 2019 in GT World Challenge America, we topped a practice session and were competitive in both races in our Mercedes-AMG GT3.

I was also lucky enough to test at COTA recently with US RaceTronics and driving our Lamborghini Super Trofeo Evo there is really something else.

The car just has so much power and so much aero, and we are flying around the whole track.

We are out there doing 2-minute and six-second laps, which is essentially the same as GT3 times. The car is just hauling out there. It is ridiculously fast, and it is just a crazy feeling.

After our one race at COTA in 2019, it will be nice to start the 2021 season there. It’s an exciting feeling because we have so much experience with the car and so much experience with the track. We are looking forward to showing what we can do as soon as we get there.

I am happy to confirm that I will be paired up again with Jacob Eidson in 2021, and it was never really a question.

There is no doubt about it; Jacob is an incredibly fast driver and an awesome teammate. We always have some fun on the side, and we always have some great energy going with the team.

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

Jacob is most definitely one of the best teammates I could have for the Super Trofeo North America series. He is easy going, really comfortable with setup changes, great with the engineers and has a good connection with the team. With Jacob, everything is perfect, he is a great guy, and I couldn’t ask for anyone else.

I am also happy to report that I will enter 2021 as a recent high school graduate at the age of 17. I am extremely happy and grateful that I had the ability to do home schooling and finish my grade school education early when compared to many of my peers that are still in school.

It’s a big burden that has been taken off my shoulders, and I can now put even more time into racing. There is no more school work while I am on a plane, or back in my hotel room, or even right at the track.

One of the weirdest school experiences I had while racing was at this year’s Sebring finale in November.

Just 45 minutes before the last race of the year, and with everything on the line, I finished up an essay paper right there in our team transporter just before the car rolled out. I guess it is OK to say it now, but I was rushing to get it done so I could just go out there and shift my focus to the race!

Now I am going to shift my focus to enjoying the New Year’s celebration and another holiday weekend.

I hope you all have a chance to do the same, take a moment to remember those who had a particularly difficult time this year, and join us all in looking forward to a much better year in 2021.

Thank you for reading, appreciate Sportscar365 kindly providing this space all season, and I will see you next year!

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

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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