NORTH-EAST karting star Tristram Oman has confirmed a major sponsorship deal with energy drink manufacturer Red Bull just days before an attempt on the Rotax Senior Max world title.

The HRS Motorsport driver, who lives near Stockton, has already claimed both the European and British titles this year.

With two victories under his belt from previous rounds in France and Britain, second in Austria in August was enough to clinch the European Mojo Rotax Max series with a race to go in Genk, Belgium.

However, instead, Oman switched his focus to an all-out assault on the British Super One title, which he clinched with a dominant performance at Lydd in September.

The results mean the 24-year-old has qualified for a shot at the world title in Langkawi, Malaysia, on Tuesday, November 22 - and he'll drive with the backing of Red Bull, which is fast becoming a major force in motor sport.

"Preliminary talks actually came at the British round of the European series at the PF International circuit but I didn't want to say much then because there was a bit to sort out before we went public - but I'm delighted to able to confirm the deal now," said Oman.

Although Oman is part owner of Sunderland-based HRS Motorsport, the sponsorship is a personal agreement which covers his activities as an individual.

Red Bull's support network for young up-and-coming drivers includes involvement in the new GP2 series - formally the F3000 championship but rejuvenated in 2005 as the official "nursery" for drivers destined for F1.

In 2004, the energy drink manufacturer also purchased Jaguar Racing from Ford. The F1 team was subsequently re-branded Red Bull and veteran Scot David Coulthard was hired to partner young Austrian Christian Klien and Italian Vitantonio Luizzi at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Red Bull also confirmed the purchase of F1's Minardi team in October and has since signed McLaren technical director, Adrian Newey, often credited with the design of some of the most successful racing cars in the history of Formula 1.

"Obviously, to be linked to such a major force in motor sport isn't going to do me any harm and I'm both flattered and delighted to have been approached," said Oman.

"I very much hope this is the beginning of a long-term relationship as it could open all sorts of doors for me as a racing driver."

And Oman will have another opportunity to pit his skills against the best in the world in Langkawi later this month.

"Both the competition and the temperatures are going to be hot," he said. "This isn't my first shot at a world title but that doesn't mean I'm taking anything for granted.

"The fact we've already won in Europe and in the UK certainly means we're going into the world finals on a high. We've earned the right to race against the best and there's no reason why we can't win.

"But proper preparation is the key and we have to be sure we've done our homework. We're looking forward to the race but there's a lot to do over the coming few days."

Oman began his career in karting at 15 and was quickly competing locally in Pro-karts before moving up to the 100cc series.

He progressed to national competition in 2000, first in the ICA and then the Rotax series in which he was crowned Northern Area Champion, which won him a place on the grid in the World Rotax Finals in Puerto Rico.

In 2001, he switched to national Rotax full-time and won the series the following year, following up with second place in the championship in 2003 and third in 2004, when he also finished third in the Rotax World Cup for HRS.