Steven Aghakhani believes he still has a chance of securing the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Am class title despite having missed the opening round of the season due to an age restriction.
The 16-year-old Californian heads into this weekend’s penultimate round of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca sitting third in the Am championship points, 22 points behind McKay Snow, who has contested all eight races so far.
Aghakhani made his Super Trofeo debut in the second event of the season at Watkins Glen International in June, due to IMSA rules prohibiting him from taking part in the season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park on April 6-7, just days before his 16th birthday on April 12.
The US RaceTronics driver has claimed three class wins out of the six races contested so far, with four still remaining this year.
“It was a little unfortunate for us of not being able to do the season opener because of the age [issue],” Aghakhani told Sportscar365.
“We really prepped for the race and wanted to give it all that we had. Unfortunately we were restricted so we had to look forward and shoot for Watkins Glen. We went out there and took first place both days, showed what we had.
“It was a pretty life-changing thing to first step into the series with all of the ‘old gunmen’ and big boys of the series. They have so much more experience and seat time and know the car more because they’ve been driving longer than me.
“I was just super pumped to get out there for the first time, [with the goal of] keeping clean, not causing any trouble and fly under the radar and show what we could do. And that’s exactly what we did.”
Having first tested a Lamborghini race car at the age of 13, Aghakhani has been on a long-term development program with the Shane Seneviratne-owned operation, which has included SCCA and NASA competition, as well as last year’s California 8 Hours in a Super Trofeo car running in the GT Cup class.
Aghakhani feels that his previous experience at Laguna Seca will play to his benefit this weekend in his title chase.
“I think there’s definitely the possibility [of the championship] especially because we have the World Final still to go,” he said. “I do have a lot of experience at Laguna Seca. It’s a fairly known track for me. I think we’re going to hold our ground out here and bring the points closer, hopefully.
“For not being allowed to race in the first race and coming back to win the championship, I think that would be huge, especially for my first season.”
Move to GT3 Dependent on Super Trofeo Success
Aghakhani said winning this year’s Super Trofeo Am title will be a “deciding factor” on whether he will step up to GT3 racing full-time in 2020 or remain in the highly competitive single-make series for another year.
“If we can’t take first place [this year], we’re going to come back again next year and go for sweep, and after that probably do a full season of GT3 and then just see how the path unfolds,” Aghakhani said.
GT3 options include efforts in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Blancpain GT World Challenge America, with all indications pointing towards a continued alliance with Lamborghini.
Aghakhani recently turned his first laps in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo as part of a test with Daiko Lazarus Racing at Monteblanco and Jarama, in what marked the teenager’s European debut.
“Obviously the more seat time, the better, and driving the Huracan GT3, it definitely helps,” he said. “I remember when I first drove the [Mercedes] AMG GT3 and got back in the [Super Trofeo], I realized how much more comfortable I was in just wheeling the car around. I think it was pretty huge for me.
“Especially getting to know the car and the team, there are now more doors that could open up for me. I’m just extremely grateful to have had that chance.
“So far Lamborghini has been great with the support. So I would see some very nice chances of us sticking with them for a very long time.”