Created in 2005, US RaceTronics (USRT), the "little team that could” proved that hard work and sacrifice still pays off. This season the team has been running a Mercedes-AMG in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Pro class with Steven Aghakhani and Loris Spinelli. For the Indy 8 Hour, Tristian Vautier will join the team.
SRO: You guys have had a challenging year. The four podium finishes were dashed by the hard crash at Road America. How is the team preparing to bounce back at Indy?
STEVEN: We were able to secure a chassis and purchase all replacement parts in order to make sure that we are eliminating the chance of the parts failure that we had in three of our races earlier this season. Sometimes it is very hard to swallow and look back to the season. Our pace has been undeniable throughout the season but it has been the “B” factor that was out of our control.
LORIS: It was a difficult year it is true, but the speed was never lacking so we had the strength to get back up stronger and stronger. Road America was another throw away but it's part of motorsport and when you're on the edge these things happen
SRO: Since you are no longer in the championship fight, can we assume Indy will be an all-out effort for the win?
STEVEN: It will be, the idea is to exit the season with high notes and success.
LORIS: Definitely Indy will be a new chance for us. As I said the speed is there and with Tristan we can only strengthen our team.
SRO: While the title is out of reach, you are in a close battle with Winward Racing to be the highest placed Mercedes-AMG within the Pro class. Do you think of them more as a Mercedes-AMG teammate going after K-PAX Racing and Turner Motorsports, or your chief rival in identical hardware?
STEVEN: Honestly, we are not looking at any individual team as our rival. Our job is to execute once the green flag drops. The Indy 8 Hour is going to be a fun and strategic race for our team.
LORIS: We have been the Mercedes team to beat for the whole championship so far but I don't worry about the others team. Steven and I work with the engineers at every race to have a strong car that allows us to get the best result. It will be the same in Indy.
SRO: What does racing at Indy mean to you?
STEVEN: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the oldest and historical tracks in the world not to mention that It is the largest seating capacity sports venue in the world. Therefore, it is in a bucket list for every team owner or driver to compete at that venue.
LORIS: I am very excited to run at Indy for the first time. It is one of the most historic and important tracks in motorsport. Having a good result would mean a lot to us.
SRO: Since the Indy 8 Hour will be 6.5 hours longer than your normal races, how does that impact your crew?
STEVEN: We have added additional crew members for this race to make sure things will go much smoother during pit stops and in the garage.
LORIS: I have experience in endurance racing and know perfectly well how to manage the stint. It will be very important not to make mistakes both on the part of the team and the drivers.
SRO: How did Tristan get drafted into the team for Indy?
STEVEN: Tristan has been our family friend and a mentor for last few years. He is very familiar with this track and he is so easy to work with. We had a test a month ago and it was a great success. All three of us performed really well and our engineers collected valuable data that we will use for the race.
LORIS: I met Tristan when we tested in Indy. He is a professional driver and very fast so I am very happy to have him on the team. During the tests we worked very well and we can say that we are ready.
SRO: Is it too early to talk about your 2023 plans?
STEVEN: It is actually, we received multiple offers from various manufacturers and sponsors and are considering them.
LORIS: I'm still considering some options, both in the USA and Europe. Let's see what comes out for 2023.
SRO: Thank you for your time.