So now it was the moment of truth. All that came before was compressed down into one end result - 18th on the grid in the semifinal. This meant our kid racer needed to simply gain 1 position to qualify for the feature final.
The starts were a weak point today, and something that really needs work on going forward. This showed again as Deven the Kid again was late on the gas at the start and lost a position going down into the first corner section. This time though, he got up to speed quickly and was able to take that position back before the end of the 2nd lap. Now he had 6 laps to catch up the 17th driver up the road, and he set about it with a vengeance. It was an epic battle. Even the commentator stopped watch the fight for the lead of the race and directed the crowd's attention to the fight for the last place in the feature race.
It was a yo-yo battle. Deven caught up, got on the back bumper, but couldn’t quite make a move stick, with the number 33 kart of Edwin Sääf defending valiantly for his life as Deven made attack after attack. However, after 4 laps of this, it appeared that it wouldn’t happen. Deven backed off a bit a gave a bit of a gap, and we thought it was all over. But it wasn’t. Coming around the last corner for the 7th time, Deven got an amazing grippy exit and came storming down the straight as a race steward held up the last lap sign. Deven wasn’t quite close enough to get alongside and beat Edwin to the first corner apex, and again we all thought it wasn’t going to happen. But Deven had decided otherwise. He simply didn’t brake at all for the turn 2/3 chicane, and dove down the inside of turn 2 and right past kart 33, taking him and everyone in the crowd by surprise. Edwin had no answer to the move, and Deven was past him. An audible oohh and ahhh rippled through the crowd and the commentator was equally impressed. He immediately showed his superior pace as well and drove off ahead, crossing the finish line in 17th to a credible applause from the stands, and making the starting grid for the final for the first time. Yet another last lap heroic effort from our up and coming rookie!
There were lumps in the throats of senior team members as they came down to the technical building to greet their racing pilot. Quite a moment for the team, and a really well earned first appearance. After waiting a few minutes for the official results and the feature final starting grid docs, it was clear. The little man had done it. He had improved and tenth and a half and was now down to 1:03.867s and with everything to fight for in the feature.
There was really nowhere for us as a team to go in the feature race but forward. Lined up on the final row, in the 2nd to last spot, 33rd of 34, we knew it was going to be a really tough ask to move up many spots, unless there was some kind of larger incident at the start that we could somehow avoid. However, the whole team was determined to find as many positions as we could and take advantage of any opportunities that came our way.
Yet another mediocre start put us on the back foot, but we were able to make a position on the start for the first time today, and as the 12 lap feature race progressed, Deven really found his rhythm. He was suddenly lapping in the 1:03.4s range, a whole half second faster than at any time previously in the day, only a second and a half off the leaders times. He duly moved up the field, making some smooth passing maneuvers in the early laps to get onto the back of a gaggle of 7-8 karts fighting to get into the top 20. He was slowly chasing them down, getting closer with every lap, but couldn’t quite connect to the back of them enough to threaten any more passing moves and at the end of the 12 laps we crossed the finish line in 29th spot. After the official results we moved up another spot to 28th due to a 10s penalty assessment to someone ahead for unfair driving. So our tapper young lad moved up 5 spots in the feature final and took the last multiple points paying position, scoring his first two points in the Southern Swedish Karting Championship Cup!
Team Principal Dan had this to say about the day, “We knew it was going to be tough going into the day, as Big D hasn’t been here before ever. But I cannot stress how impressed I was with his focus, drive, and maturity today. There is a saying in racing - if you aren’t moving forward, you’re going backward - and today the whole team showed that we are going nowhere but forward at the moment. We never got discouraged with our task today, we focused on positive development and not looking at what others were doing, and it really paid off. Really proud of the whole team, and especially The Kid, who got himself within a second and a half of the top experienced drivers today in just 6 sessions on the track, culminating in earning the first feature final appearance, and first championship points in this series. Now we pack it up and go again to yet another unfamiliar track in Kalmar in just a few days time before a well deserved summer break. Really looking forward to the next one!”
The team’s young ace rookie had this to say, “Making the final meant everything to me today. The track was really fun to drive and I just kept getting faster and faster throughout the day. I found new places to improve and make passes with every race, and being able to fight and pass was amazing. I can’t wait for the next one!”
So there you have it folks! Just a couple of days back at home base now, prepping for the cross-country trek to Kalmar and round 4 of the Southern Swedish Karting Championship Cup - don’t forget to register with the site to be notified of all new news and happenings - support #grassrootsracing, support Grabko GP!