St Louis, Missouri (September 17, 2014) – Tristan DeGrand captured the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship last weekend and for the 18-year-old St Louis racer, his title success is beginning to sink in following an outstanding season competing in Canada’s leading junior open-wheel racing series.
Having piloted his #93 Exclusive Autosport Honda Spectrum to 10 wins from 12 starts to claim the championship, DeGrand took time out to reflect on a stellar 2014 season, a campaign packed with highlights for the young American stand out.
Q: What attracted you to compete in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship this season?
Tristan DeGrand (TDG): “I knew that it would be the best place to get more seat time with my team, Exclusive Autosport. Looking at how the series was operated and the quality of competition, it was an easy decision to race in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship. Also, with the creation of the Super Series it gave me the perfect opportunity to drive at some big events.”
Q: In terms of the competition level north of the border – was it what you expected and was there anything that surprised you about the series?
TDG: “The competition was extremely tough as I expected. Every race was hard fought and by no means easy. The competition made me learn so much and at the end of the day it has made me a better driver.”
Q: Your level of dominance, scoring 10 wins from 12 starts, was impressive – what was the key to your performances this season?
TDG: “All the elements came together really well this year. Being a second year driver on the team made it easy to be strong right from the start. I was able to work hard with my engineer, Remi, to get the most out of the car and myself every session. I was determined to win every race and to perform to the best of my ability, which I did and the results showed.”
Q: You also picked up two wins during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend in Montreal – how much fun was it to be on the same schedule as Formula One™?
TDG: “It was an experience that not many people get to have. Being in front of all the F1 fans was a memory I’ll never forget. The Ferrari fans seemed to cheer the most, maybe because I was in a red car! Standing on the main F1 podium was a special moment as well.”
Q: The Toronto Indy in July was another major platform to race at – what was your experience of the downtown street course?
TDG: “The Toronto Indy was always one of my favorite IndyCar races to watch on TV so to actually be there and to drive the track was awesome. The track layout had a good flow to it, which made it really fun to drive. Equally, the Canadian fans made the experience even better as always!
Q: Did you expect to be named as one of the six finalists for the Team USA Scholarship and what does it mean to be in the mix for the prize?
TDG: “It’s an honor to be nominated as a finalist for the scholarship. At the beginning of the year I hoped I’d be on their radar, it made me determined to do well. The drivers who’ve been chosen in the past have gone on to do great things in motorsport so I hope to become part of that group.”
Q: Can you share your personal highlights from 2014, both on and off the race track?
TDG: “The cool down lap in Montreal at the F1 race was probably my favorite memory of the year. I was waving to the fans and they were cheering back like I was a Formula One™ driver! Off track I just simply had the time of my life with the team at every race we went to.”
Q: What are your immediate plans for the rest of the year and any thoughts on where you’ll compete in 2015?
TDG: “In the coming weeks I’ll be finishing up the Quebec Formula Tour F1600 Championship. My main focus right now is to try and win that series as well. I’m currently leading the standings. As for next year, I have nothing set in stone but hopefully I’ll move up into faster cars, possibly something like the USF2000 series and the Mazda Road to Indy.”
ENDS – www.degrandracing.com / @TristanDeGrand