Monrovia, California (Tuesday, October 29, 2019) – Steven Aghakhani made a statement this weekend in Jerez, Spain. The 16-year-old, Southern California native, became the youngest Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Champion on Sunday with his fourth consecutive win of the weekend. Aghakhani came into the weekend focused on winning. His goal was to win every pole and every race and that’s exactly what he did. Aghakhani missed winning the North American championship by one point, but that just seemed to fuel his fire even more. He drove every session with precision and remained cool and calm under pressure.
Aghakhani started Race 2 in the No. 106 Lamborghini of Beverly Hills from pole, but was passed in the first turn by Jake Rattenbury in the No. 33 car. Aghakhani stuck to the back of Rattenbury ready to pounce if the Welsh made even the slightest mistake. The mistake came on lap 20 and Aghakhani took full advantage surging into first-place and never looking back. He focused on building as big a gap as possible and crossed the finish line 5.631 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. He continued his dominance of the weekend in the Am class and letting the world know he’s arrived on the scene.
Race 2 of the World Finals was going exactly as planned for the drivers of the No. 109 Lamborghini of Vancouver until their pit stop. Jacob Eidson ran an amazing first stint after starting from fifth-place in Pro-Am and had the track position the team felt they needed in order to give Canadian driver, Damon Ockey, a good shot at bring home the Pro-Am win and the World Finals. Ockey was handed the car from second-place in class, but left the pits 0.2 seconds early due to a miscalculation by the team. The result was a drive-through penalty that dropped Ockey out of contention for the win. He continued to push hard, but the deficit was too great to overcome and the pair finished fifth-place in Pro-Am.
While disappointed with the Race 2 outcome, the North American Pro-Am champs chose to focus on how successful their season was leading up to that race. Sunday’s race was the first time this season that Ockey and Eidson did not finish on the podium. With 11 wins out of 12 LSTNA races, the season was definitely one to be proud of for both the drivers and the team.
Ron Atapattu started Race 2 in the No. 124 Elephantea Lamborghini of La Jolla from 11th-place in Pro-Am. Atapattu put down some strong laps and avoided the accident that took out several cars early in the race. He had moved up to ninth-place in Pro-Am when he brought the car in early in the pit stop window. After a great driver change, Patrick Liddy almost immediately started experiencing issues with the electric systems of his car that effected the ABS and power steering, leaving the Southern California driver struggling to maintain track position while muscling the car home safely to an eighth-place Pro-Am finish.
It was not the final race Atapattu and Liddy were hoping for, but their success on Friday to clinch the third position in the North American championship helped ease the pain. The pair came into the weekend fourth in the standings and had podiums in both races moving them into the final podium spot for the season. Atapattu and Liddy paired up for Race 6 of the North American championship 48 points back of second-place finisher William Hubbell and ended the season only 39 points out of second-place. USRT is proud of the efforts of both drivers this accomplishment.
Team owner Shane Seneviratne had mixed feelings at the end of the day. He went from the high of winning the Am World Championship with Aghakhani to the low of knowing that unfortunately, the pit stop error likely cost Ockey and Eidson a World Championship of their own. Seneviratne is proud of his amazing group of drivers and his great crew and he’s already making plans to be back in the LSTNA series again next season.
The 2020 LSTNA season kicks off at Barber Motorsport Park April 3-5, followed by Watkins Glen International June 25-27, Toronto July 10-12, Virginia International Raceway Aug. 21-23 and the final race on U.S. soil at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Sept. 11-13. The final two races of the North American season will be in conjunction with the World Finals in Misano, Italy Oct. 29-Nov.1, 2020.
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Steven Aghakhani – “All-in-all it was one crazy weekend! We might not have taken first for the North American championship, but you know weren’t able to race for a full race weekend, so we did what we could. We only lost by one point, so it wasn’t that bad. Coming back from 32 points down, we were pretty happy with it. Nonetheless, second-place is still up on the podium. But this weekend we really focused on just finishing first-place in every single race and keeping the car clean, not getting into any contact. Yeh, contact happens… it is what it is. But we took first-place every single race and we did what we had to do, so I’m super excited and I can’t wait for next year!”
Jacob Eidson – “It’s a tough pill to swallow. We had some kind of issue on the pit-out, but I really think we had what it took to win the race or to win World Finals ultimately. But that still doesn’t take away from the great season that Damon and I had, as well as the team. One small error cost us, but we still had an amazing season and an amazing World Finals, so all-in-all I can’t complain.”
Damon Ockey – “Well, today’s race was a little disappointing. Jake had an awesome run and brought the car in P5 in class. I went out, but unfortunately our pit timer wasn’t quite set up right or malfunctioned and we got a drive-through penalty because we were under our pit limit for time. The drive-through basically cost us the race. We had the pace to pass P1 and stay in front, but unfortunately with the 30-second drive-through it just wasn’t going to be our day. The car was great!”
Ron Atapattu – “It was a fairly common and uneventful race for me while I was in the car. The car was running fairly well, and I had some minor issues on the track with other drivers but nothing major. My pit stop was fine. I think when Patrick got in the car, he had some problems that I didn’t face, with steering issues and ABS issues. So, something didn’t go according to plan. I’m happy we finished eighth in Pro-Am, but we didn’t make it to the podium today.”
Patrick Liddy – “Not the end to the weekend that we were hoping for, getting riddled by car issues. We had an electrical shortage that gave us issues with the pitlane speed limiter, our ABS and our power steering, so we were left to pretty much fend for ourselves with the car at the end of the race. But we kept it on track and passed several of our competitors, so happy with our personal performances, but looking for some redemption next year.”
Shane Seneviratne – “It’s a bittersweet day. We did good with Steven… won the World Championship in Am. But we did not do well as a team for Damon Ockey and Jacob Eidson. We got a drive-through penalty for being 0.2 seconds under on our pit stop time. But that’s what it is now and we can’t do anything about it. Just want to thank everyone for a solid effort this weekend. We have three cars that are in one piece and are rolling back to the US and we did collect quite a few trophies. We’ve got to reflect on all the positives and learn from all the negatives and look forward to the next season.”
*Photo Courtesy of Eros Maggi Fotografo