J3 Competition/Kosmic driver places second and fourth in stacked Rotax Senior field
OCALA, FL – The Ocala Gran Prix facility in Ocala, Florida has been a favorable destination for American karting star Tristan DeGrand. This past weekend (March 25-27), the Florida Winter Tour Rotax Max Challenge held its series finale at the 1/2-mile circuit with DeGrand making his second start in the Rotax Senior category. Following last month’s top-10 performances and visiting a facility he has gained a lot of success at, DeGrand entered the event with strong confidence of recording the best results possible. Tristan accomplished that feat by standing on the podium following Saturday’s round of action and missing out Sunday by just one position.
With the large entry numbers for the event, the FWT program holds their qualifying sessions on Friday afternoon. Sunday’s round six session took place first during the afternoon with DeGrand posting a 36.664-lap to place eighth overall - just over one tenth off the pole position. Later that day, qualifying for Saturday’s round five events took place with DeGrand gaining a tenth of a second (36.569) to sit fifth overall - still just one tenth out of the fast time in a field of 38 drivers.
“I was excited to return to Ocala and repeat my results from 2009. We worked really hard in both West Palm and Ocala to find a good setup,” commented DeGrand, looking back on the weekend. “The track proved more difficult in Ocala. During the second qualifying session, we seemed to find a better setup and I managed to increase my pace in the second qualifying session from the first qualifying session on Friday.”
Following a warm-up session Saturday morning, DeGrand set up in grid spot five for the 18-lap Prefinal. Avoiding any opening lap incident, Tristan was comfortable in the lead group. The comfort did not last long as the group began shuffling around for position. At the checkered flag, DeGrand was able to hold on to his fifth position, where he started the race, to place him at the favorable inside of row three to start the Final. Another solid start put DeGrand in the third position after completing the first lap, trailing the top two drivers. The 24-lap run saw Tristan hold onto their draft but unable to make any advancement, crossing the line in third position. Following post-race inspection, the second place driver was found to be improper, thus moving DeGrand to the second spot on the podium in just his third Rotax Senior start.
Sunday’s action began poorly for DeGrand, right from the drop of the green flag. Through the opening lap, Tristan was involved in an incident that sent him back to the 22nd position the first time across the scoring stripe. As he showed in Palm Beach, DeGrand was capable of regaining his lost positions. After 18 laps, DeGrand was shown in the 13th spot. The good news was his inside starting position of the seventh row. Through the opening lap of the Final, DeGrand was able to avoid the early carnage and break into the top-10. DeGrand was on the tail-end of a seven kart pack that trailed the leader. The group shuffled positions throughout the closing laps with DeGrand able to capitalize and move up to the fourth spot with two laps to go. Unable to overtake for third place, DeGrand crossed the line in the fourth spot to complete a double top-five weekend performance.
“I am very proud of the team as they worked very hard to get these results,” continued DeGrand. “I’m happy to have improved on my performance from West Palm Beach and standing on the podium in just my second weekend in the Senior class is a true thrill. Thank you to team manager Justin Stefani and the rest of the crew at J3 Competition for all their hard work.”
The 15-year old will return to the state of Florida on April 8-10 for the first event of the Rotax Pan American Challenge, set for the Homestead Karting facility south of downtown Miami. 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.