With it being too late to do anything about it on site, it was going to be a rough one again. The racing machine would have to be sent back to the machining center after the race day for straightening, with the root cause of the out-of-shaped-ness not able to be determined. It was probably one of the early season shunts we were involved in, and then getting progressively worse with every little incident subsequent to the initial damage.
The only thing to help us out now would be weather. If it was damp and/or wet, the effectively broken chassis would have a more limited effect on the rear grip, which was basically non-existent and impossible to setup for on a non-straight frame.
Things seemed to be going our way though in the morning, when the team arrived back at the track. It was very damp, and the first free practice session saw about 40% of the field on rain tires, including Grabko GP. It paid off as well, as Deven showed good form and potential, driving his way up to 5th in the time tables for a long period in the session and ending up a very respectable 13th by the time it ended.
But the damp conditions were short-lived. The rain that hung in the air never came, and as the other classes made their runs, the track dried up. By the time the second free practice session was underway, it was slick tires being the only option in almost completely dry conditions.
And the back end just wouldn’t stick. Many heated discussions between race engineers and driver ensued, and floods of tears of and frustration later, it was decided that the team put in the best setup possible for rear grip, almost a wet race chassis setup, and then go out and fight at the back, and try to get through the race day, setting our own internal lap time and result goals.
10 laps later and he was there, right on the tail of the driver ahead, but it was one thing to catch up and another to make the pass. And so it was, that Deven made one attempt and couldn’t make it stick in the quick turn 2 that sets up for the first hairpin, turn 3, exiting out onto the long back straight, and he almost ended up losing positions because of it. He now had 2 laps left to catch back up and make another attempt. He did catch up on the last lap, but this is where it all unravelled for him, unfortunately.
Having done all the hard work, he made a very ill-advised dive into the same corner, this time from at least 2 kart lengths behind, and it did not end well. He got up into the rear bumper of the driver ahead and took off their exhaust in the process. He half spun as a result and lost his hard earned position, limping across the line in 30th and ruining the race for the driver ahead as well.
Not a great way to end the day, especially after having worked so hard to even get where he had - to the limited result that would have been a small victory given the handicap he had dealt with all day.
But you live and you learn, and as the team packed up, dismantling the kart and sending the frame off separately to the machining center, it was a philosophical and reflective atmosphere that settled over the caravan.
Our Team Principal’s comments mirrored the mood. “We’ve got to take stock now and regroup. The start to the second half of the season has been really tough for us, with mechanical issues left and right, one after the other - even our race tent has let us down and broken - now the latest blow being the discovery of the bend in the chassis here at Klippan, and you have to say that we have had more than our fair share of bad luck. But you know what they say, ‘you make your own luck.’ I still believe that, and so doing things in the right way, staying positive, and not getting down on each other is going to be critical to turning this around. We are going to have a thorough inspection of the equipment and make sure we don’t have any of these issues when we come back to the track in Gothenburg in 2 weeks time, where we hope to be able to put in a more representative performance.”
When asked about the incidents in the semi-final and final, he had this to say, “Yeah, these were a couple of rookie things that happen sometimes. In the semi (final) we had a situation where a driver tries to pass around the outside, and our guy is driving the racing line. Ask anyone, in any class here on the grid, and if they are truthful they’ll agree. In the final that was a simple matter of a driver making a hot headed decision to make a lunge on the final lap, a decision that he regrets. No more to be said about that. All credit to Deven though, he is a sportsman through and through. He apologized for both incidents of his own initiative, and he's really more down about both of them than he should be. He’s a good kid and hopefully will learn from these.”
So there you have it folks, yet another #grassrootsracing adventure on the road that in #racinglife! See you next time!