It was a special double race weekend in Växjö for the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the 2022 Southern Swedish Karting Championship Cup. The team was in high spirits coming off a maiden podium performance in the Karting Cup West Series, and was ready to take revenge at a track that had dished out disappointment for the team last year, when our then rookie driver Deven missed out on the final by a single position due to the circuit's reduced 30 kart track license.
Deven’s performance was exceptional throughout the weekend, and his development curve as a driver continues to impress, especially given the extenuating circumstances he had to fight through as the weekend progressed.
It would be easy to blame technical issues that included a race motor that gave up after the first session of the first day, carburetor issues on day 2, getting bad luck with the weather in qualifying on day 1, and a crippling ignition cable disconnection during qualifying on day 2 - and we will do exactly that, but the way Deven rose to the challenge with a laser edged fighter pilot mentality was a lift for the whole team.
DAY ONE - SKCC ROUND 2:
Qualifying - 10 minutes - P18 After showing pace near the top of the field in free practice on Friday, it was time to lay it out on the table in qualifying. The first two practice session in the morning were on rain tires as scattered showers kept the track too wet to venture out on slicks. The story remained the same for qualifying in a tricky session. The team never really were able to find a wet setup that Deven was comfortable with. Combined with not getting proper track position, this led to a P9 in the first qualifying group. The second qualifying group had a much drier track to deal with and the times dropped by several seconds, which resulted in the qualifying results being combined separately in a scissor combination rather than put all together to make it as fair as possible. Not ideal at all and it meant a P18 starting position for the sprint heats, and a tough assignment for Deven if he was to make a bid for another top 10 finish in the final.
Lidköping Karting Klubb hosted the second round of the Kart Cup West National Series on a world class figure 8 track that drew a strong international field in many classes. In challenging conditions with an extreme wet track during free practice on Saturday, and still on rain tires on Sunday morning’s warm up session as the circuit rapidly dried out, Deven showed the pace of his current development and gave the paddock a glimpse of what is to come if he can continue on his current trajectory.
Fastest in the wet on Saturday, the still inexperienced driver was full of a different kind of confidence coming into race day. It was a quiet but steely self belief that the team could feel surrounding their driver as he went through his morning pre-race preparations, getting involved in the chassis and motor setup and installation, reminding his mechanic that he needed everything to be right if he was going to win today. To win. This was the mentality shift the team and driver coaches had been waiting for. He knew he was there on pace and he wanted it. Badly.
FREE PRACTICE - P3, P5 The first session of the day was a 5 minute warm-up and the track was still too wet to go out on slick tires for any kind of representative running, although it was drying fast. The front runners went out on wet tires, with the team electing to stay on a full wet chassis setup instead, knowing it probably wouldn’t be the optimum choice. Others had gone over to dry chassis setups on wet tires. Deven went through his paces and after the short 4 flying lap session it was clear that slicks would be the way to go by the time the 2nd practice session came around. Deven was third fastest, on the right tires but the wrong setup. A good start to the day.
The second practice session was all about dialing in the chassis for the qualifying session to come. It was now an hour on from the first short warm up session, and the running of the other classes competing had given the track a nice dry line by the time Formula Mini lined up again for Free Practice 2. The decision was made to not break in the new qualifying set of tires, but run on an old used set instead. The data indicated that on this track with the predicted track temperatures and Deven’s driving style, that optimum use of new tires would be about 4 laps into the first session of use. So out on old tires it was for FP2. Deven went out and was 5th fastest on a track that was not quite ready for full speed yet, as the top times were still over a second off proper qualifying pace. Nonetheless, it was a reassuring result. All the data showed that Deven would be there at the pointy end in qualifying.
Another strong performance by Deven Grabko saw him go one better than his 2022 debut result a week ago. Crossing the line in 9th position in the Final of the first round of the Karting Cup West Championship, it has to be marked down as another successful race weekend, even if both he and the team felt there was more that could have been achieved.
Round one was held at the Borås Motorpark Karting Circuit, in Svaneholm, Sweden. This is a tricky 1.1km track with big elevation changes in the 2nd sector, climbing uphill on a double apex turn 5 and 6 combo and then looping back down again on the long turn 7, and a niggling little chicane at the final turns 14 and 15 coming out onto the start/finish straight.
Last year at this track, the team had such a hard time with setup and grip, Deven was wallowing at the back of the field despite his best efforts. This year the team and the driver were much more prepared, and went into the free practice day looking towards the front of the field instead of the back.
The weather was again stellar for racing on both the Saturday Practice Day and Sunday Race Day. Partly sunny and not too warm, with almost no wind to speak of. After a very productive practice day on Saturday It was early bedtime and focus on the coming qualifying sessions.
Another special touch was the addition of the American Flag at the Circuit, a really nice gesture from the host club, FMCK Borås, as Grabko GP is the only US entry in the series. Thank you!
Grabko GP is a grass roots race team whose main focus is on amateur and young driver development, from first forays into karting, through amateur racing series, with the aim of one day culminating in the minor formulas and beyond. The team aims to promote participation in and love for motorsport while enabling the development of elite racing drivers.