Huddling in the race van with the heat turned up and the fans on full blast to warm up, race engineer and driver went over their plans for the rest of the day, reviewing the track and the strategy for qualifying later in the day.
The second FP session went much better, the circuit and the air temps had already risen to more acceptable levels and Deven quickly found his pace from the day before, putting in 1:04.3s laps near the end of the session, which was a bit quicker than Saturday practice. So the stage was set for qualifying, where a good session would be key to setting up for the sprint races to follow.
By the time the qualifying session came around, at 10:25am, track temps had risen significantly, nearing 15°C due to the sun beating down on it, with an air temp of 6-7°C. Rubber had also been laid down from all the other classes as well, so track evolution would play its part here as well. Our intrepid young racer had a slow start, sitting down in 12th spot for most of the session, but with only a couple of minutes to go found his rhythm. Putting in a 1:04.033s lap on his 8th pass of the circuit was good enough to see him jump up to a respectable mid-field 9th spot, only 0.003s away from an 8th position. This is how it stayed, and so it was a solid performance from The Kid. He would be starting the sprint races on the inside line, so missing out on 8th wasn’t the biggest deal in the world.
The starts have been the biggest opportunity for improvement this year, and unfortunately today was no different. Finding and being willing to take the right positioning on track for the opening corners is something that will come with more experience, and has been good at times this year, but the consistency track to track have been lacking.
The results of the Sprint races meant he was pushed down a grid spot in the Final, to 10th, and this meant being on the outside line for the start. It was the first challenge to overcome, but certainly not the last of the day. As they wound around the final corner of the formation lap and came slowly rumbling down the start finish straight, Deven was leaned forward in his seat, willing the start to go off. Down the front straight they came and The Kid made a good move to hang in there, staying even on the outside line through the fast turn 1 and through the quick kink that is turn 2. There was just no room to get inside for the turn 3 hairpin though and he was forced out wide on the exit, still even with those beside him. There was just no room left going into the fast right hander at turn 4 though and he was forced to concede the place as he couldn’t get to the apex first.
So he went over the bridge straight for the first time in 11th spot again, and was being hard pressed from behind by two karts behind. He defended well and when the kart behind dove in on him going under the tunnel at turn 11, he raced hard and dove right back on the all important final turn 13 that led out onto the start finish straight, and came over the line in 11th still after the first lap.
It was tense racing for the next few laps as The Kid was able to open up a small gap to those behind and even make a little headway on those in front, but it was looking like 11th was all that was going to be on the cards. But the two karts behind suddenly found renewed pace, and started closing on Deven again, and had caught him up by lap 7. Three karts in side by side, bumper to bumper racing came through the final turn, and our man got overtaken on the exit, but was able to maintain his momentum better because of it, and got up alongside coming over the start/finish line, crucially on the inside line. It was now a matter of who would dare stay on the gas the longest. Deven won that duel, and was able to force his opponent off the ideal line and sweep back past him.
At the same time, up ahead in the race Vendela Kördel, who had been having a cracking weekend herself, and fighting for a podium place all weekend long had disaster strike as her engine let her down and gave up the ghost. Such disappointment for her and her team. One person’s misfortune is another person’s opportunity, and the time it was Big D’s turn to ride the wave of fortune. Sweeping past the stricken number 17, Deven found himself in that top 10 spot he had been aiming for. This seemed to give him a boost because he seemed to gain focus, and dug a little deeper to find that little bit of pace, and was able to pull a gap again slightly in his three way battle, now for 10th spot.
The two behind then got in a tussle of their own a lap later, down the back side of the circuit, somewhere around turns 9 or 10 - it was hard to make out as the was no line of site to that part of the track. This ended up resulting in Deven pulling a comfortable 5-6s gap with now only a few laps to go. He drove it home, and completed his excellent weekend coming across the line in 10th.
In the end it wasn’t quite enough to get him in the top 5 of the championship, and so the energetic rookie would have to settle for 6th. Still a trophy winning spot, and the smiles and elation were huge at the prize ceremony.
All in all a very satisfying way to mark the end of a debut season.
The learning curve has been steeper than anyone could have imagined for the whole team. Upon reflection, though, we wouldn’t have had it any other way. There are far too many partners, sponsors, suppliers, and simply friends to the team that have helped us through the season in one way or another that it would almost be remiss of us to try and list them, but we’re going to have a go at it anyway. PLEASE forgive us if we do miss you here, we have appreciated every little gesture no matter how small.
First of all, our engine and chassis supplier as well as on site mechanic support, LK Racing. Leo & Mattias, thank you both for your dedicated support and input, which has been invaluable all season long, and on more than one occasion race-weekend-saving. Can’t wait to further develop this relationship next year.
Uddevalla Karting Club - what a great group of racing enthusiasts to be a part of. Great race track, good facilities, and amazing members make this a great platform for getting into racing. Thank you all collectively for being awesome.
Justin and Elliot Russell - help, support, advice, friendship, what a cool father/son duo, you guys are more appreciated than you know! Allehall Racing, thanks for being a great sparring partner and test day companion, really looking forward to even more fun next year. Jim Abrahamsson, for being accessible and approachable and willing to share with a rookie team. The Silverfjäll, Welander, Packalén Spangenberg, Fransson, Emanuelsson, and Hagardzon families, the entire LK Racing Intrepid Team, and all of you out there who didn’t hesitate to help us when we we needed it whether it was a stripped or broken bolt, a carburetor issue, kart and chassis setup, race van battery, etc. We are grateful to all of you!
Last but not least, a special and heartfelt thanks to our sponsors and partners. Without your support and encouragement, none of this would be possible. Freem Sweden, Improx Customs, Profil 461, Weret Surf Watches, The Techno Creatives, Elevate IoT Platform, Telus International, Intrepid Racing Karts, Sparco, Tillett, Shell Racing Fuels, Eni Racing Lubricants, Leatt, and of course our parent company, The Grabko Group - no words can describe our gratefulness!
In a field of 30, the rookie driver moved up the timing sheets into the top 20 with a 19th fastest time by the end of the second and last free practice session. Things were looking up and the driver also felt he knew where to find more time for qualifying.
So on with the race tires for qualifying, right? This is the point where the signs began to point to something being amiss in the alignment of the stars. The “newer” race tires had been mislabeled on loading for travel. This meant that the wrong tires were registered for the race, and also the wrong tires were mounted for qualifying. This became immediately apparent as The Kid recorded his first flying lap. He was visibly struggling for rear grip, and his times suffered badly for it. Instead of moving up the field for qualifying, he dropped down, even though his driving was improving with every lap that went.
Coming into parc fermé after the session the time sheets showed 23rd, and a 0.6s slower fastest lap than in FP2. The team had let the little man down. He took it on the chin and kept his head held high. He was no stranger to having to fight his way up the field.
As it was the Final itself started out in a dream scenario. The team’s closest rivals in the championship were either behind on the starting grid, or only just ahead. At the start there were several incidents that Deven managed to navigate cleanly through and he found himself in 20th spot after lap one was complete. Crucially those close rivals had been part of those opening incidents and this left Deven with the opportunity to make up some vital ground in the points standings where he was 6th going into the day.
Now, with two slower karts ahead of him after the jumbling at the start, he duly began to hunt them down and was closing fast. He had fully caught them up on lap 3 of 16, and it looked an inevitability that he would sail past them and go on to finish well up in the midfield and close out his season in fine style.
But then the worst that could happen, happened. The two karts ahead were fighting their own fight, part of the reason Deven was able to catch them up as quickly as he did. Going into the quick back side zigzag section of the track, The Kid had just come up right on the back of the karts ahead, planning to follow them through and then pass on the short little start finish straight that came after, maybe even getting both of them at the same time.
However, the kart ahead had no idea Deven was there, and tried an ill advised move of its own, getting into the side of the 18th placed kart and spinning out only millimeters in front of The Grabko GP machine.
Deven had absolutely no chance whatsoever. He was into the back and up over the top of the spun ‘round kart before he could even blink. It was race over, points gone, and series position lost, all in the blink of an eye.
True heartbreak for the young man, who sportingly cheered on the rest of the field from the racing steward post for a lap or two until he dejectedly sat himself down, head sunk into his hands and pondered what could have been.
Luckily the racing machine suffered no real damage, just simple bodywork. Deven drove it home into parc fermé after the checkered flag had gone, and after weighing in and being met by the mechanic team, the tears he had been holding in started to flow freely. They didn’t stop for a good long while after either.
It was no way to end the fight in the KCV series, and definitely not the way to end the season, and so it was decided by the team, which had initially not planned on making the final round in Lidköping the following week, that their plans needed to change in order to fight for that all important spot in the series championship, and give our driver a chance at redemption.
So The final round of the KCV series in back on the calendar and we will see you all next week for the real final race of the season, with hopefully a better and slightly more satisfying end to our rookie year in racing.
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The track was so wet that there was standing water in several key braking areas of the track, and fresh rain tires would allow for much better braking traction. Unfortunately this was not available to our little warrior, and he had to make due with what he had.
He fought on valiantly, but could only manage a 12th position in qualifying. Things got worse as well, as a start motor casing failure caused a delay in the pre-grid and thus the #14 GrabkoGP machine ended up a half lap behind on the formation lap. The race stewards made the decision to start the race in any case and not take an extra formation lap to allow the kart to catch up to the pack. Then mysteriously the black and white flag was shown on our next lap around the track in last place, with the start finish steward motioning our driver into the pit, which he duly followed, thus ending his race before it even started.
In the aftermath the Race Director made a visit to the team tent, apologizing for the miscommunication, noting that the wrong information was forwarded on to the on-track official, resulting in both the wrong flag being shown to the driver as well as the wrong gesturing to enter the pit.
It was heartening for the whole team to see his fighting spirit, and having taken himself up those 4 positions, he was doing well defending from behind as a couple of those who had spun out earlier were catching up and putting on the pressure.
He was even gaining on the 11th and 10th placed karts ahead when the 10th placed racer lost it in the final hairpin, and the 11th placed driver only several meters ahead of Deven was forced to make evasive maneuvers. He managed to keep himself pointing in the right direction, but right into the line Deven had chosen to take.
Thus he was forced to make a last second correction out to the wide side of the track and lost so much time that even though he went around the spun out kart successfully, he ended up a net 13th as the 2 karts chasing him behind were able to slither by with more time to react and take the much preferred inside line.
Then to add insult to injury, the original spinner was able to catch up Deven and pass him on the second to last lap, meaning that in the end he took the checkered flag in 14th as he crossed the start/finish line for the last time.
It was a bit of a let down given how hard he had fought and worked himself into a decent position.
The Kid was open about his challenges on the day. “I am really disappointed with 14th today, but I just didn’t feel as comfortable in the rain as some of these other guys, and I just couldn’t seem to get the same kind of grip as the other guys out there either. I was basically on ice skates, man! Afraid I was going to lose it and spin out on almost every corner. It was a real fight today just to bring the kart home every session!”
Chief Mechanic, Dan was equally keen to let his feelings be known. “Yeah, our tent broke apart during setup this morning, we had a start motor casing explode on the pre-grid for the first Sprint, we had a miscommunication from the race officials, and we didn’t even have the proper equipment for the conditions today. We still somehow came home with a bit of hardware. Go figure! That is racing sometimes.”
This being the penultimate race of the season for the team, with next week being the 4th round of the KCV series in Skövde! Deven still lies in 6th spot in the KCV championship standings after this round, so there is everything to race for in the final race of the season.
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Our man Deven was coming off his best result of the season and the whole team were hoping to keep that momentum through to a stronger finish to the SKCC finale. But again, as has been the case most of the season, there was no prior experience at the track for team or driver, so everything would have to be learned on the fly, with only 2 free practice sessions to try to dial in the driving and setup before qualifying.
The first FP session went as expected, sitting near the back of the 29 kart field, getting a feel for the track. Things were more worrying on the chassis setup side than the driving side at this point. There was an audible difference as the karts came flying through the fast right handed turn 1. The Grabko GP machine was struggling to hold revs under the load, while karts further up the field had more freely revving motors.
Notes were taken, consultations made, and in between sessions, the necessary chassis and gearing adjustments were made to free up the load coming through the corners. This made a good difference and with the kart in better working order for the track, it was now all focus on the driving.
After FP2, it was race engineer and driver going through the data, finding as much as they could to work on in preparation for qualifying. Given the circumstances, it was a decent result. The team would qualify in 23rd after all was said and done, the best qualifying positions achieved in this championship for the feisty little rookie this season.
However, the race heats are a completely different animal, and with 29 karts lining up on the grid, full commitment is required. It was clear directly from the start of the first sprint heat that Deven still hadn’t quite ridden himself of the demons conjured up in the previous rounds at Malmö and Klippan. His start was best described as gun shy. Far too passively he tiptoed his way through the start, allowing those around him to take advantage, and after the first half lap he found himself running 3rd from the back. He then proceeded to run a fairly pedestrian race, showing clearly that he had more pace than those around him, but not willing to commit to any passing moves to continue on up the field.
It was time for the Team Principal to step in. Taking the young rookie off to the side to visit the Formula Nordic racing machine on display at the track , we don’t know what was said or how, but when the pair returned, there was a renewed glint of determination on the steely little face of a young racer again. We will probably never know what was said or how, but what we do know is that whatever it was, it worked.
Having put ourselves in the position we did going into the final it was always going to be hard to rectify it. Starting 27th is no easy task to drive yourself up from, especially on a track where the start is not going into a hard braking zone to allow for a lot of passing.
Nevertheless, it was a night and day performance. Right from the start it was clear that the Kid was going to race and not just drive around the track. He got off the line and fought for positions, jostling his way through the pack and making up 2 positions on the start right away, but then getting unlucky to have to make evasive maneuvers to avoid a spin the sharp left handed turn 4, and losing out one position again due to that.
Taking tighter and more aggressive lines at corner entry, he was immediately well over a half second faster than his previous best times, and was bearing down on the kart ahead. Now within a second of the front runner’s times, he showed what he could do with the equipment he has underneath him.
Unfortunately, to his frustration, even though he was able to catch up to the #23 ahead of him quite easily, it was much tougher to get by. This time, though, his inability to make the pass wasn’t due to lack of trying. Lap after lap he just couldn’t get the exit out of the key corners 6 and 12 leading up to the long back and front straights to make a pass stick in the braking zones, and thus it was that a frustrating race ensued, and showed just what could have been had we had heads right from the start of the day.
Crossing the line in 26th in the final was another step sideways instead of forward, and was a somewhat disappointing way to end the 2021 SKCC Series given the form we shown coming into the weekend.
Chief Race Engineer, Dan Grabko, told it like is was. “More than half of motor racing is psychological, and if you don’t have your head right, you’re not going to get anywhere. We had a weekend where we came to grips with the mechanical setup quite quickly, but the driver mental setup was a tougher nut to crack. We finally did that, but the damage had been done. All credit to Big D for salvaging what he could in the Feature, but the incremental moving up the grid needed to happen in qualifying and the sprint races, not the Final. There was more in the car and the driver today than what we showed, and that is the disappointing thing. Fair enough if you give it your all and come up short, but when you know for fact that you have left performance on the table, then it is just a bit draining. Based on the data, a top 20 finish was well within our grasp today and we didn’t go out there and take it.”
With the final rounds now coming for the KCV Series as well, it is well and truly a wrap to the season soon, and preparation for the 2022 Championships are already well underway. Coming up next on the race calendar is Round 3 of the KCV back in Gothenburg, and then Round 4 the weekend after that, in Skövde. Due to prior commitments the team will not be able to enter the final round in Lidköping.
Thank you for all your support, every like, follow, and message of encouragement are truly appreciated by the entire team!
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Deven charged him down though and by lap 3 of 14 he was breathing down his neck, and it was bumper to bumper racing for the final podium spot for 10 laps. To say it was nail biting for the team looking on would be one of the understatements of the season. It was an intense period that seemed to last forever. Lap after lap Deven showed the consistency and focus needed to fight for a top place. At one point, lap 7 or 8, he managed to get a better exit from the fast turn one and got up almost alongside for the pass into turn 2 but couldn’t quite beat his man to the apex, and did the smart thing and §§didn’t dive in recklessly. At the same turn 1 the next lap, he was caught out by the slower exit of the #82 and bumped him from behind. This produced a warning from the stewards, but lucking there was no front fairing and the intense fight continued.
Meanwhile the pacy #96, who had gotten a less successful start to the race, had made their way clear of traffic and was also now bearing down on the two ahead, also putting in their claim for the final podium spot. Suddenly it was a 3 kart race for 3rd, all bumper to bumper racing, and all very nerve wracking.
Credit to the drivers, they raced hard and raced well, and in the end when they crossed the line, it was the #82 who just held on to 3rd spot. Our man Deven came home 4th, his best ever result, and even though in the moment tears were shed in frustration at being so close to glory, yet so far away, it was a real injection of positive energy that has been injected into the team with this result.
The Team Principal had this to say, “Finally! That’s what I have to say - The Kid showed he can do it on his day with the right equipment and setup under him. All credit to him and to the team for putting in a solid, focused, and measure performance throughout. I’m so proud of everyone involved, especially Deven, as he showed the determination, skill and maturity to go the distance today. He’s going to sleep well tonight I’ll wager. We’ve been waiting for this kind of end result to our toils for a very long time. We started slowly this morning in FP1 but didn’t panic, just methodically went through our paces and worked our way forward all day. Awesome drives by big D in the 2nd sprint and the Final. Nail biting to watch, but so exciting to be up there fighting, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Deven was buoyant by the time the driver interviews came around, “4th place, baby! Love it. Should have had 3rd, but this is so cool as well, can’t wait to go again!”
And go again GrabkoGP shall, as in a week’s time it is the final round of the SKCC, this time in Helsingborg.
Follow us to find out how it goes! #grassrootsracing #grabkogp