SATURDAY - QUALIFYING AND SPRINT HEATS
Free Practice | 8 min | P8
It was more of the same as far as the weather went on Saturday. It was very damp, and seemed to have rained overnight, and everything was back to being soaking wet without actual rain coming down. As you were, then - on with the practice wets for the single warm up session before qualifying. It was a strange session. It was clear that the kart lacked speed compared to the day before, but it was more wet as well now in the morning. However, Deven had gotten in a wet weather rhythm, and was extracting the maximum from the kart on the used set of tires. Of those out on used tires he was the leader, setting a time 1.6s off the pace and finishing the session 8th fastest. It was a very promising start to the day, but now the hope was that the conditions wouldn’t change too much in the intervening 2+ hours before the qualifying session.
Qualifying | 10 min | P2
No setup changes were made. It was a simple tire change from used wets to one run old new scrubbed wets. It was a revelation. It was night and day. It was magical. From the first flying lap, Deven never let go of 2nd place. Instead he was looking ahead, not behind. Feeling the grip in his tires immediately, he picked his way as quickly as he could through the field, and together with Intrepid teammate Alve Alehall, they had the entire track free ahead of them to fight for pole position from lap one. And that is exactly what they did. They gave each other almost the whole front straight as a gap and just went at it. It was a pleasure to watch as the two Intrepid Driver Program pilots traded blows. In the end it was Alehall who took pole by just over 0.3s with Deven taking 2nd and locking out the front row for the Italian manufacturer. Fellow ace Intrepid pilot Leo Abrahamsson made it complete by taking home P3 as well and making things look really good for team orange going into the sprint heat section of the race weekend.
Sprint Heat 1 | 8 laps | P2—>P2—>P5 (3s penalty)
At this point, it seemed like the only thing that could stop us now was ourselves. So of course - that is exactly what we did. 🙃 Deven was starting from the front row for only the 2nd time in a major event this season, and it was of no surprise, despite pre-race meeting briefings, that he got a bit overexcited. The thing was is that he made an excellent and fair start, almost inch perfect in fact, and in the wet conditions simply stuck to the outside of the long sweeping turn 1 while everyone else tried to squeeze themselves to the inside line. He then went into full attack mode like a diving bird of prey, and dove down hard and ruthlessly into the turn 2 & 3 chicane. For the other racers it was either give way or be swallowed up in the wake of Deven’s wrath. They chose the latter.
Deven stormed off with a little gap behind in his wake. The only problem was is that the start camera caught him head steering, as he looked over at Alehall to time his start he drifted out of his corridor by mere centimeters only a few tire diameters from the 25 meter line - and it cost him 3 seconds added to his race time after the race. But for the moment he was riding high on a clean and agressive start that cemented his P2 position through the first lap. It was going to be a battle the whole way through. On lap 2 he made a mistake just after the chicane and it was all he could do to keep the kart pointed forward as the rear came out on him and he lost momentum into the wide entry, 180° turns 4 and 5. The #119 of Henrik Bergström was there to take advantage, who himself was already having a fine race weekend. He dove down cleanly on Deven and took the place. Deven wasn’t having any of it however, and the two battled it out in the slippery wet in what was the most heart-in-mouth close racing of the heat.
How they managed to fight that hard and keep it clean with no significant contact is still a mystery. They did it though, and eventually Deven won out the fight and was able to regain a bit of a gap. It was an amazing display of racecraft from both drivers, and Deven showed the ability to adapt and plan an attack as he first made two failed attempts at the backside hairpin of turn 7 before taking the spot in the technical section turns 7-8-9 complex instead. Unfortunately he couldn’t make a 3s gap, only 1s, and was demoted to P5 after his false start penalty. It was a bitter pill to swallow for him after a pretty epic drive, but he would have to get past it in order to get the most out of the weekend.
SUNDAY RACE DAY - SUPER HEAT AND GRANDE FINALE
Warm Up | 8 min | P10
The morning session was more of a, “get your blood flowing” session to make sure things were good to go for the super heat. The weather situation was unchanged again for the morning. Misty dreary, damp. No setup changes necessary as the team threw on the older set of wets and mostly went out to verify carberator jetting and tire pressure settings. It was an encouraging start to the day as Deven went out and recorded a P10 result on the old tires, again being right at the pointy end of the times of those on older tires. On to the Super Heat!!
Super Heat | 8 laps | P4—>P6
The Super Heat concept is different than a pre-final or semi-final, and is used to make the race weekend more fair by reshuffling the grid and giving another chance at a result. The classifications from the first two heats are used to make the grid for the Super Heat. Then all the results from heats 1 and 2 as well as the Super Heat are averaged together to make the Feature Final grid. What this meant for the team was that barring any catastrophic loss of pace or a crash, a top 4 grid spot should be secure with any top 10 result. Knowing this was one thing. Trying to get your fledgling racing driver to allow this fact to sink in was quite another. However, Deven showed surprising maturity as this information sunk in during the morning team briefing, and he said, “so I don’t actually have to worry that much and just make sure I am up there near the front?” A resounding yes was the answer, and the team went out and lined up on the pre-grid.
As we were tipping the kart down on the grid, we noticed it - a huge sky-wide break in the clouds, almost like a laser straight cut and beyond clear blue skies! It was heading directly our way. It would not reach us for this race at all, but with almost 3 hours intervening between this race and the Grande Finale, thoughts were already churning in the team’s head. Surely it would be dry for the final if the sun beat down on the track for 3 hours?? It was a question for another time. Right now we had to secure our grid spot for the Grande FInale. Again nobody was a match for Deven’s irresistible starts. He cut his way into the first chicane and took one place into 3rd. He didn’t quite have the pace to hang with the pair ahead, but again the middle stint looked like he would relatively comfortably take home 3rd spot and cement his place for the Grande FInale.
Then it happened again. Lap 6. Lost 0.3s in pace. Lap 7. Lost another 0.3s. Powerless to stop the kart behind from passing him. Now P4. Lap 8. Another 0.4s fall off and he has no answer again as the kart behind almost effortlessly gets by on the final lap. We cross the line P6, and wonder what is happening. It seemed that a pressure or temperature threshold was being reached where this particular set of tires just weren’t working. While this result was fine for the team, as Deven would start P4 for the Grand Finale, an awesome result thus far and one we would gladly have taken any day of the week if offered to us, but it was a 12 lap race, and if these tires were only going to last us 5 full race laps, we feared we would tumble down the order if the race would be run in wet conditions.
What a weekend!
Deven was on top of it for the entirety of the event, from free practice through to an excellently executed qualifying. He then showcased his entertaining and fearless driving style through the sprint races and on to the Super Heat, culminating in a powerful and explosive performance in the Grande Finale, earning him more than a few admirers and no small measure of respect up and down the paddock, both on and off the grid.
Such a beautiful way to end the season on a high, and give the team the confidence to come back and do it all over again next year! Grabko GP would like to thank everyone who has helped us this season with everything from helping to finance the racing endeavours to turning a screw, to loaning out equipment, time and expertise, or just a helping hand or kind words of support - YOU are the ones that make it all possible!
Especially our generous and amazing sponsors, the best we could hope to work with!!!
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