This presented a podium opportunity to the fledgling racer. If he could get a good start and get past the J60 kart just ahead on the start, while his closest competitors got stuck behind, there might be a chance to build a gap and snatch the final podium spot in the final.
This was the strategy and the hope, and it got even more exciting with a very light sprinkling of rain that was threatening to wreak havoc in the final. The rain, though never quite materialized more than a few drops, not enough to cause a real difference, and the strategy never quite materialized either. Our man’s start was good enough, but he got caught out of position going into turn 2 and lost 2 positions, one of which he made back immediately in the next corner, but the damage had been done. He had lost the initiative and couldn’t get past the J60 kart, while 2 of his main rivals, Dante in the number 77 and Edvard Spangenberg in the number 67, both did.
Deven was not done, though, and on the 3rd lap he made sure to get it done, sweeping to the inside of turn 2 and then extending and making the pass stick before exiting the first S’s onto the back straight away. By that time, though, Edvard had made too much of a gap for Deven to chase onto, and he never quite came within striking distance to try and snatch up another place.
It had gotten so bad that on lap 12, with just one to go, the engine gave up completely cutting out going into turn 3, the entrance to a technical uphill section of the track that led to the back straight. Deven managed to get the engine going again, but then had gotten picked up by the leading pack having taken the checkered flag behind him. He followed them into the pits without taking the checkered flag himself, but due to 3 other DNF’s was classified 29th and would start there for the feature final.
Outright panic had ensued in the paddock in the team, desperate to find anything that could give Deven a chance to do something in the final. An engine change to the old specification motor that was well overdue for a full service was the only option left as all other avenues had already been exhausted.
The young driver kept his head and got the kart loose by shunting himself forward, but just as it seemed he was free and was going to get going again, there was a loud “bang!” and the clutch package blew itself apart into tiny little pieces, impacting the cylinder head and blowing a hole right in it, as well as smashing apart the chain guard, and start motor housing. The engine went into super high revs decoupled from the clutch and Deven and the track stewards did their best to turn off the engine, a 3 person concerted effort that drew applause from the crowd when they finally managed to get it stopped by choking it at the air filter.
This was lap 2 of 14, so Deven had a long wait ahead of him stand at the 2nd steward post to spectate the race. Did out young development driver sit down and sulk, ruing his back luck, and focusing on the negatives??
Not our little man - no. In an impressive display of sportsmanship, Deven spontaneously stood up, and cheered on each and every remaining driver in the race until the end, clapping and giving thumbs up as they passed by. This was noted by the race director, who gave Deven the Sportsmanship of the Weekend Award post race. It was a touching ned to what had been an extremely frustrating weekend.
Team Principal Dan Grabko had this to say, with a rueful shaking of his head - “I couldn’t believe it - he (Deven) just all of the sudden stood up and started cheering on the rest of the field. We’re very proud of the young man - there are a lot of racers out here that definitely would not have had such a positive attitude after such a frustrating, stressful, and chaotic race day that we’ve unfortunately experienced here today. To have the presence of mind and the enthusiasm to encourage his fellow competitors after such a horrible race day for him personally was actually quite extraordinary. On our technical side, we’ve had an old motor explode on us in the end and another that we need to have a full inspection of, which won’t be easy - we’ve only got a few days to get our house in order for Klippan next week, but we will do our best to get him a machine under him that he can go out there and fight with.”
Keep fighting the good fight, and we’ll see you next time! Join the journey, support #grassrootsracing - support Grabko GP!