Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer racing teams won the first race of the inaugural SRO Motorsports America Winter Invitational series and secured three additional podium finishes in the doubleheader event last weekend at The Thermal Club. Steven Aghakhani, 16, won Saturday’s opening race in the No. 6 US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 and was joined on the overall podium by second-place finisher David Askew in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The new winter series includes three weekends at The Thermal Club, which is located in Southern California near Palm Springs. This past weekend’s debut event used a 2.7-mile configuration while the remaining two rounds of the series in January and February each will use different configurations.
Aghakhani’s victory came in his second career race in a Mercedes-AMG GT3. Last March, Aghakhani – then at the age of 15 – and co-driver Richard Antinucci scored a top-five finish in the No. 6 US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Circuit of The Americas in Aghakhani’s SRO debut.
Aghakhani and Askew rose to the overall podium again in Sunday’s second and final race. Aghakhani finished second, less than half-a-second behind the race winner, while Askew crossed the finish line in third.
Aghakhani won the pole for the second race and set the fastest lap in both of the weekend’s 40-minute sprints. His qualifying lap of 1m26.892s was the fastest of the weekend, and his Sunday race lap time of 1m28.677s was slightly quicker than Saturday’s top lap of 1m28.884s.
Both the qualifying pole run and Sunday’s fast race lap established SRO GT3 track records on the 2.7-mile Thermal circuit.
“My comfort level in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is great. I get great feedback from the car therefore, I can really push the car to its limit,” said Aghakhani. “I was actually told that I set the lap record in the GT3 class on that configuration. Moreover, I love the torque and the power band in the Mercedes-AMG GT3. I honestly feel very comfortable to drive this car, especially on tracks such as The Thermal Club.”
In addition to his overall podiums, Askew earned a pair of class wins in his No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The remaining rounds of the SRO Motorsports America Winter Invitational at The Thermal Club are scheduled for January 17-19 on a 3.1-mile configuration and February 7-9 on a four-mile layout.