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October 02, 2014
Exclusive Autosport Sweeps Formula Tour 1600 Championship Titles
Exclusive Autosport, the North American Spectrum factory team wrapped up a tremendously successful F1600 year in the Quebec based Formula Tour 1600 Championship. The team captured the Pro-class, Masters-class and Rookie championship titles Sunday, September 28 at Circuit Mont Tremblant (Mont Tremblant, Quebec). Exclusive Autosport continues to re-write record books, capturing back to back Pro, Masters and Rookie Championships in Formula Tour 1600 in both 2013 and 2014.

Tristan DeGrand, an 18 year old second year driver for the powerhouse team, drove his #93 Exclusive Autosport / Spectrum / Sparco / Exclusive Management Inc. / Honda Racing HPD to his second championship (DeGrand captured the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship earlier this month in Ontario) of the 2014 season with 18 wins, 21 podiums and 13 pole positions in two championships.

Jayson Clunie, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, piloted his #90 Sparco/ Exclusive Autosport / Spectrum / Exclusive Management Inc. / Honda Racing HPD machine to not only a Masters championship but also a rookie off the year Championship with three wins, eight podiums, ten top five and 12 top ten finishes. Clunie finished 4th in the overall championship points.

Max Hanratty, a second year driver for the Exclusive Autosport squad from Hartland Wisconsin, finished the season in 5th place overall in the championship standings. He drove his #91 Juniper Networks / Exclusive Autosport / Spectrum / Sparco / Honda Racing HPD to three podiums, four top five and eight top ten finishes in the 12 race Formula Tour 1600 Championship.

Heading into the final weekend of competition, DeGrand led the Pro class championship by 22 points over fellow Spectrum Honda driver, Olivier Bedard. Clunie sat in 5th position overall and Exclusive Autosport teammate Max Hanratty, driver of the #91 Juniper Networks / Exclusive Autosport / Spectrum / Sparco / Honda Racing HPD was just ahead of Clunie in 4th position overall. Also joining the F1600 squad this weekend was Exclusive Autosport’s current F2000 driver Thomas McGregor, last year’s Formula Tour 1600 Champion, for a one off event. The foursome qualified for race one on Saturday morning with championship leader DeGrand putting his #93 on the front row in P2. McGregor put the #92 Exclusive Autosport / Spectrum / Sparco / Exclusive Management Inc. / Honda Racing HPD in P3.

From flag to flag, Saturday’s race was a wild ride. McGregor held his position off the start however trouble ensued as he navigated into the third corner of the first lap. A competitor attempted to pass McGregor on the inside, however there was simply no opportunity for the pass. McGregor was subsequently pushed hard into the cement barrier. McGregor was physically ok after the hard wreck, however his Exclusive Autosport Spectrum Honda was not. He would not return to race action for the remainder of the weekend. The incident brought out a full course caution early for the 14 car field. At the restart, DeGrand pulled into the lead and began to build a large lead that would eventually be over 20 cars in length. Late in the race, a competitor experienced mechanical issues which brought out another full course caution. With very limited time in the race remaining, the field would see a green, white, checkered situation. DeGrand had championship contender Olivier Bedard hot on his heels on the restart however, DeGrand confidently and skillfully drove his #93 to his 18th win of the 2014 racing season. Meanwhile, Hanratty and Clunie sat comfortably in fifth and sixth. On the last lap a competitor dove under Hanratty and made contact. Clunie had to get hard on the brakes to avoid the incident. Clunie finished sixth overall, second in the masters class. Hanratty finished 11th overall in the race.

The next day would conclude the 2014 Formula Tour 1600 Championship season. The Exclusive Autosport squad put their Spectrum Hondas well in the top ten with DeGrand qualifying on Pole, Hanratty in fifth and Clunie in sixth. DeGrand slotted into P2 after the start. He had no intentions on challenging for the lead as he simply needed to finish fourth or better to capture the championship. DeGrand sat on Bedard’s gearbox for five laps. The lead pair had an 8 second lead on P3 by that point. Michael Duncalfe, team owner and driver coach, had DeGrand pull back and just bring the car home in P2. Hanratty had contact on the first lap with another competitor and dropped back to tenth position. He put in an incredible drive, navigated his way through the field and managed his way back to the top five and finished the race in fourth position. Clunie, who had clenched the Masters championship the day before had a very exciting race. He dropped back to sixth off the start and engaged in an exciting battle with competitor Serge Lacroix. The two exchanged positions many times. While they were battling, Hanratty was able to slip past. On the last corner of the last lap, Clunie and Lacroix were side by side. No contact was made, however Lacroix spun. Clunie finished a hard fought race in fourth position overall, first in Masters.

Tristan DeGrand, No. 93 Exclusive Autosport / Spectrum / Sparco / Exclusive Management Inc. / Pro Am Golf USA / Honda Racing HPD F1600

“Our weekend in Mont Tremblant played out exactly the way we hoped it would go. I was able to win the first race to give myself a little more of a cushion in the championship. Qualifying for Sunday’s race was huge because we needed to stay clear of any first lap action. Finishing the race was my main goal. Coming away with second place in the race and claiming the championship on Sunday was as good as winning anyway. I’m really proud of the Exclusive Autosport team and all their hard work. Their determination to win fuelled my desire to win even more. I’m really thankful for everything they’ve given me this season. I’d also like to thank Spectrum, HPD, Sparco USA and Pro Am Golf USA for supporting me this year. Big thanks also to the whole Formula Tour 1600 Series for providing a great racing platform. Winning two titles in Canada is really special but I’m already focusing on next year and seeing what the new season will hold for me.”

Jayson Clunie, No. 90 Sparco / Exclusive Autosport / Spectrum / Exclusive Management Inc. / Honda Racing HPD F1600

“When Michael (Duncalfe) and I reviewed what we had put forward as goals for this year with respect to the open wheel car, it was simple… work toward being top ten every weekend. Considering that I have been driving sports cars for the past while running consistently in the top ten seemed like an achievable goal. Finishing the season 4th in Overall points, Formula Tour 1600 Masters Champion, Formula Tour 1600 rookie of the year Champion as well as fourth in the F1600 Super Series is really unbelievable. The skill level of the competitors I raced with this year was nothing short of amazing and only emphasizes how shocked I am with the outcome. This year wouldn’t have been possible without my generous and amazing partners and teammates. Special thank you’s to Sparco USA, Exclusive Autosport, Exclusive Management Inc., Spectrum Race Cars, Michael Duncalfe, Team engineer Remi Lanteigne, the entire EA Crew (Sylvain Hetu, Benoit Vaillancourt, Felix Courtueir-Lamy. I am really looking forward to returning to open wheel racing next year.”
Pacific Mountain Central Eastern International

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