Final | 14 Laps | P7 —> P4
(P5 after post race penalty for sitting up on top of his seat before the front bumper inspection was concluded)
Here it was, the series had all come down to this. Things had not gone our way in the heat races, but the only race that counts is the final and here everything would be put out on the table for all to see. We would be starting 7th on the grid after the results of the sprint races. At least it was the inside line, but we would have to get off to a much better start, at least hold station, to get any real chance of taking it to the top three, who had had smooth sailing up front all day long. About 30 minutes before the race was scheduled to start, the rain started to come down. Out of nowhere, and not in the forecast at all for the day, suddenly dark clouds were upon the track pouring down a steady stream of rain. There were still 3 races to be run in different classes before, but it wasn’t a little 3 minute shower. It continued to gently rain on and off, and it was causing no end of unease in the paddock area. Tires went off and karts were held without wheels until the last moments, being alternatively set up with either wet or dry setting on the chassis.
When it came time to actually line up on the pre grid, it was a 60/40 mix of wet vs dry setups. The frontrunners had wet tires fitted but were fidgeting nervously with their wheel guns as they looked on to the track evolution happening before then as another class’ race developed. With only 2 laps to go it happened. The leaders were switching to slicks. This triggered a mad scramble from all but 2 teams to switch back to slicks. Grabko GP was prepared, and had everything they needed on hand in the pre grid to widen the chassis back out at the same time as they fitted the tires. It was smoothly done with only a slight hint of nerves. The team lowered the kart after double checking all the wheel nuts one more time, just as the steward signalled 5 seconds to engine start. Deven hopped into the kart and almost immediately started up the engine. they were off on the formation lap.
One of the teams had trouble with their wheel change and got out of the pre grid late, and was speeding around the track to make it back to the pack. Just as Deven had a week ago, he didn’t make it and was the whole of the straight behind when the start went off. This caused a hole on the outside of Deven for the 10th placed driver to attack, and it was a chaotic start. In the melee that followed Deven came out having gained one spot to 6th. He got another down the back straight who was on rain tires and was going to go on attack for the next one at the 2nd ’s’ section at turn 9. However, as they came down the back straight and into the turn 8 hairpin, it suddenly became apparent how slippery the track still was here on the back side where the late afternoon sun couldn’t reach it anymore. Suddenly Deven was sliding all over the place. Deven slid out wide but managed to keep the kart on track, but the two drivers in the field on wet tires easily slipped through here and got a march on Deven. At the same time several drivers were making evasive manoeuvres.
What had happened? Well a front wheel had come bounding towards the pack across the track! It was the kart that had gotten out late. The front right wheel hadn’t been bolted properly and had come flying off, through the grass, and right across the track as all the karts were passing down the straight to turn 9. Luckily all the karts were missed and the wheel bounded off up the hill and into the woods behind the track.
It was a chaotic start to say the least and while Deven didn’t lose places, he didn’t gain any either, and was now stuck behind two slower karts, both on rain tires. There were still two corners on the track where they were the quicker tire, but the rest was definitely slicks. As long as they were close though they could go on attack in those areas. Deven had to pass the 6th places kart in front twice in the early part of the 2nd lap before he got by him and then tip toeing through the treacherous turn 8 allowed the other rain tire equipped kart in 5th place to gain more legs on him through the latter part of the first lap. He finally caught up to him at the end of the front straight at the beginning of lap two but again couldn’t make 3 separate passes stick until the turn 9 second ’s’ section was completed, and by this time the front 4 had really gotten a march on him.
He proceeded to do the only thing he could. Hunt them down like a stalking predator. For 8 laps he chased, taking a 3 seconds gap to 4th place and chipping away at it. 3 tenths here, 2 tenths there, another 3 tenths. Half a second. 2 tenths. 1 tenth. Suddenly he was within striking distance, ready to pounce. Sure enough the mistake came ahead as Deven mounted the pressure. With two laps to go, going into the still wet and slipper turn 8 hairpin, the driver ahead outbroke himself trying to carry too much speed, and slid out wide. It was all the opening Deven needed. He accelerated past and was on his way. He had battled his way back into 4th position.
Now it was not nearly enough laps to try and chase down the top three and they had too much pace anyway in these later stages of the race, but Deven came across the line with a 1.3 second gap to 5th. It was a great fighting performance by our young driver.
The aftermath of the race is a different story. Deven lost his head a bit and decided to sit on the top of his seat to await the front bumper inspection. He never left the kart or made any attempt to leave the kart or touch anything on his bodywork or anyone else’s. He simply raised his bottom up to the top edge of his seat to sit… and was handed a 5 second penalty.
It was a black cloud and a final twist over a rollercoaster ride of a day. Another dubious penalty in the series and the gutted feeling from Skövde began forming in the stomachs of the team. However, a quick check by the statisticians as they ran the numbers and all was not lost. Deven would only lose one position in the race, being classified 5th instead of 4th, and in the driver’s championship, the one less point didn’t end up mattering for him, as he still was able to claim 4th position overall.
Well, what can we say, here? We are so proud of the way Deven has developed as a driver and you can just see there is so much more to come from him. As a team, we've got to continue to make sure he receives the best conditions and equipment possible to help him realise his potential. We’ve got one race left in our hectic September schedule, and it is another big one, the 7th and final round of the Southern Swedish Karting Championship Cup, down in Kristianstad in less than a week’s time. We really have to focus on everything going smoothly down there now to go out on a real high this season. The goal is to come home with a top 10 finish in the Final and a top 15 finish in the series. It is a tall order, but would be so sweet to achieve after all the hard work Deven has put in.”
I really think that was totally harsh. The penalty I mean, yeah. I never even got out of the kart and I never made a move to touch anything or anyone. It makes me so sad because I fought so hard to make that 4th place finish. I was doing so well after the first couple of laps, I could see him getting closer with every lap and I just tried to make sure I wasn’t overdriving, and hitting my apexes. That second hairpin on the back side was like ice the whole race though!! And then he slid there and I was through! Anyway, just really happy now after that. I still made 4th in the championship, even though I was 2nd going into the final round. Those guys didn’t have to take away any points but I did. I guess that’s the rules, but it feels wrong. I didn’t skip any rounds like they did. Anyway, big congrats to my Intrepid Kart teammates. They were fast today, and I got stuck fighting others behind them so wasn’t able to fight up there beside them. Engine issues, which is getting irritating to keep saying all the time, it sounds like I am trying to make excuses. But it is true. First heat I had no top end power and no revs. So I ended up getting a penalty trying to defend too hard because I had to cover the straight line speed everyone had over me. Would have finished behind them anyway. Doesn’t matter now, we made our goal today, which was to finish 4th in the driver’s championship, and I am proud of that. Only way I would have ended up higher today is if my teammates crashed out of the final and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone let alone my teammates. Thank you Leo for all the help this year and with the chassis and helping my dad figure out the engines in the end.”
Grabko GP would like to thank its sponsors and partners, without whom we wouldn’t be able to compete at all:
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