ST. LOUIS – Tristan DeGrand captured the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship over the weekend, an impressive accomplishment for an 18-year-old racer following an outstanding season competing in Canada’s leading junior open-wheel racing series.
Having piloted his No. 93 Exclusive Autosport Honda Spectrum to 10 wins in 12 starts to claim the title, DeGrand reflected on a stellar 2014 campaign.
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 performance 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 F-1 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 F-1 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 television 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.