LOS ANGELES - Steven Aghakhani, the world's youngest AMG pro driver, is set to debut in the 2022 SRO Fanatec GT Wortd Challenge America powered by AWS with co-driver Loris Spinelli. The Steven Racing and US RaceTronics (USRT) duo, featuring new engineer, David Grabengiesser, will compete with Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing. Aghakhani and Spinelli will co-drive the No. 6 SADA Systems/USRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Pro class of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America.
"The field of racing is constantly changing and improving," said Aghakhani, the 18-year-old native of Los Angeles. "It only makes sense that our team does the same. Better technologies, faster cars and newer drivers. We're very excited to grow with Loris this upcoming season. Loris has been an inspiring mentor during our GT training."
Steven and his father, Armik Aghakhani, who is also the team manager, first met Spinelli in Lamborghini Super Trofeo competition. Spinelli, an Italian who turns 26 December 30, brings a strong GT3 background to the team.
"Being so close to Christmas, it's fitting that I received the gift of getting to run alongside Steven for the 2022 GT World Challenge America,' Spinelli said. "I know the abilities of my new teammate well and the potential of the USRT team. I anticipate satisfying results that will land us podium positions. Some of the upcoming tracks are new to me, but I'm sure my experience competing in Mercedes-AMG GT3 will serve me well. All-in-all, I'm excited to start working with the team and master this championship."
The Aghakhani effort has been bolstered with the addition of German international racing engineer David Grabengiesser for the full season. Grabengiesser has vast experience with several different GT3 platforms, with recent success with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, including the 2021 German Touring Car (DTM) with GetSpeed. He has also worked with Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams Gruppe M, SPS Automotive Performance, Haribo Racing and Olimp Racing, in addition to working as an HWA support engineer for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing from 2014 - 2016.
Aghakhani, Grabengiesser and the entire USRT team performed their first test run together with the No. 6 SADA Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Sonoma Raceway, the site of the 2022 season-opening race in April. Spinelli will join Aghakhani and the USRT team for his first test run in early 2022.
"The initial meeting with David was electrifying,' Aghakhani said. "He knows the Mercedes-AMG GT3 inside and out. Regardless of this being our first test run at Sonoma - let alone our first time working with David -we all felt very comfortable, and the teamwork flowed naturally. Being able to push a car as powerful as the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with such ease is a testament to the kind of engineer David is."
The 2022 season GT World Challenge America opening race weekend at Sonoma Raceway is scheduled for April 15-17.
"We need to keep focus and maintain our reputation as one of the strongest teams in North America," Aghakhani said. "Our team has the drive and power necessary to bring home the championship our first time around. I'm ready to get behind the wheel. This upcoming season will be our fiercest one yet."
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