Darren Keane Impresses in Junior Debut

"New class and new chassis for the 2012 Vortex TaG Cadet Florida Winter Tour Champion"

02 May 2012

Deerfield Beach, Florida - After completing a successful winter season that resulted in the Vortex TaG Cadet Championship at the 2012 Florida Winter Tour, up-and-coming karting pilot Darren Keane recently made the jump to the challenging and competitive junior ranks. Also taking on the challenge of learning the nuances of a new chassis brand, as Keane and the Keane Racing team have made the switch to the championship-caliber Tony Kart chassis, Keane was impressive in his double debut. Recently taking on some Florida regional racing, Keane had the pace to run at the front of the pack at both the South Florida Rmax Challenge and the Florida Karting Championship Series.

Starting off at the South Florida Rmax Challenge at the Homestead Karting Complex in Homestead, Florida for Rounds 1 & 2 of the series, Keane was seen at the pointy end of the field all weekend long. A successful run to fourth on Saturday was soured by a penalty for passing under yellow, relegating the future star to the 13th place. Not to be deterred, Keane came back on Sunday, earning a top-five finish in the day's feature race. Making a statement in his Rotax Junior debut, Keane's feat was intensified by the fact that he had only received his new Tony Kart chassis the Wednesday prior to the race, and had only practiced in the junior chassis for one full day before his first event.

Heading over to Andersen Racepark in Palmetto, Florida next for the fourth round of the Florida Championship Karting Series (FKCS), Keane would take on the FKCS competition for the first time this year. Pulling double duty in both TaG Junior and Rotax Junior, Keane continued to post impressive results despite his junior rookie status. Qualifying 12th out of 18 drivers in TaG Junior on Saturday, Keane made it as high as the sixth place in the prefinal race before being involved in a pile-up during the closing stages of the ten lap heat. Relegated to the 15th place, Keane would not have a chance to make up lost positions in the final, as the day was eventually called due to bad weather conditions in the area.

Sunday morning saw Keane come back with a vengeance, qualifying an impressive fourth out of 22 drivers in a rain soaked Rotax Junior qualifying session. Continuing his promising start in the junior ranks, Keane went on to score his first win in a junior class after taking the prefinal victory by just under one second. With pole position for the feature race, Keane held his position as the leader for the first few laps. Losing the lead to a local driver with vast knowledge of the Palmetto circuit, Keane held on to second place until succumbing to the pressure of the reigning Florida Winter Tour Rotax Junior champion. Keeping pace and closing the gap on the last lap, Keane attempted a last chance pass on the seasoned driver in front of him, but wound up crossing the stripe in the third place. Unfortunately, due to a WKA-imposed 'no hopping' rule Keane would receive a two position penalty, putting him back to the fifth place.

"Overall we are extremely pleased with how Darren has transitioned into the Junior ranks," explained Keane Racing Team Owner and father Patrick Keane. "We were taking a calculated risk moving Darren up to Junior this year instead of letting him complete the 2012 season in Mini Max, as Darren is still only 12 years of age. We have a lot of hard work to do to get ready to compete in the Nationals but to this point Darren has shown that he is ready for any challenge we put his direction."

Next up Darren Keane and Keane Racing will take on the Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida on May 6.

For more information on Darren Keane or Keane Racing, please call 954.564.0655