Two time series champion looking to better February results in Rotax Senior category at familiar facility
EUREKA, MO (March 22, 2011) –American karting star Tristan DeGrand is set for his return to a favorite and successful facility from his past. The final round of the Florida Winter Tour Rotax Max Challenge will take place at the Ocala Gran Prix circuit in central Florida over the March 25-27 weekend. The short yet fast 1/2-mile venue has been a welcomed stop on the karting schedule for the recently turned 15-year old from Missouri. Following his Senior debut at last month’s event in West Palm Beach - racing alongside former national and world champions in addition to IndyCar drivers Dan Wheldon and Jay Howard - DeGrand has shown his development as a driver is paying off and looks to continue that momentum into Ocala.
DeGrand’s event in Palm Beach began with a sixth place qualifying effort for his first day in the Senior category. He was quickly initiated, getting shuffled by multiple competitors to drop to 29th across the line for the first time. DeGrand put his head down and knifed his way forward to end up 14th with lap times similar to the leaders. From there, Tristan made up numerous positions in the opening laps of the final to join the lead pack. A heated 20-lap feature race saw common racing contact throughout the duration with DeGrand climbing to cross the line fifth, only to be handed a three-position penalty as the lone and questionable offense. Day two began with a ninth place effort in qualifying aboard his J3 Competition Kosmic powered by a Supertune USA Rotax and holding the position after some heavy shuffling in the Prefinal. Similar to Saturday, the opening corner was very dicey and the mistakes by others caught Tristan, dropping him to 19th after the first lap. With determination and skill, DeGrand found himself trailing the lead group once again by the halfway mark. Running as high as fifth, he would cross the line sixth to complete his first weekend racing in the Senior category.
DeGrand’s jumped to the Senior category was last minute but the young Missouri driver was ready, “Racing in Seniors was unexpected in Palm Beach. I originally planned on racing in the Junior class but a mix up in registration forced me to move up to Senior. This was an exciting new challenge to fight against very experienced drivers. I wanted to take the success I’ve had in Juniors and my experience overseas to carry that to the next level. The heavier weight of the kart was the first noticeable difference to racing in the Junior category. From the first practice, I felt comfortable so my preparations have paid off. I learned a lot and finished both finals with possible chances at the podium. I’m looking forward to the final round in Ocala. This is a track where I have had lots of success.”
Lot’s of success is an understatement when reflecting on the 2009 event of the Florida Winter Tour at Ocala. Competing in the KF3 and TaG Junior categories, DeGrand earned three main event victories and one runner-up finish over the two days. Two of those wins helped to clinch the KF3 series championship. Following Ocala, DeGrand will shift his efforts toward the Rotax Pan American Challenge, with events in Homestead, Florida and South Bend, Indiana for April and May.
Tristan would like to thank his sponsors - J3 Competition, Supertune USA, Alpinestars, Pro Am Golf, Inc. and Thinkglobale Inc. - for their support. Additional information on Tristan DeGrand can be found on his personal website - degrandracing.com .
About Tristan DeGrand:
Eureka, Missouri’s Tristan DeGrand has grown to be one of the rising stars in North American karting. Getting his start in the sport at age 7, DeGrand was among the best at a young age. After establishing his name in the Cadet ranks, he matured in the last three seasons in the Junior category. DeGrand was crowned the 2009 KF3 North American champion and competed in Europe in 2010. The highlight of last season came at in WSK World Series when DeGrand stood on the KF3 podium at the United States round to become the first American to stand on the series podium. For 2011, DeGrand is focused on competing in the Rotax division throughout the USA, including the Florida Winter Tour and Rotax Pan American Challenge in addition to the WSK Nations Cup in Canada.