This was it, the seventh and final round of the 2022 Southern Swedish Kart Championship Cup. It was hard to believe it had already been 5 months almost to the day when it all kicked off with a maiden top 10 finish at the first round in Helsingborg.
Then a long rough patch as the team threw away a second consecutive top 10 in round 2 in Växjö when going for slicks in mixed conditions and an ill-timed rain shower ruined the day.
A powerful salvage job in round 3 followed that, also in Växjö during a double race weekend, grabbing a handful of points in the final after starting from the back of the grid when the spark plug cover fell off during qualifying, and fighting our way back through the field in the sprint heats to come home 15th.
After that the disappointment of round 4 in Klippan, where the team let Deven down in qualifying, forgetting to fuel his kart and he had to start from the back again, this time after making up 12 places in the opening lap of the final, crashed out and limped home to 28th.
Round 5 in Jönköping saw phantom mechanical issues that were not discovered until the next round of the competition, giving Deven no chance of putting in a performance and he bravely fought on at the back of the field.
The redemption in round 6 at Malmö where even with the mechanical issues only partly repaired, he showed his grit and skill to take home his best result of the season, another top 10 finish and silverware to put in the trophy room.
And now this - what would the final round have in store for Deven?
The decisive round of an ultra-competitive Kart Cup West series championship was upon us. It all comes down to this after a long and bumpy ride full of highs and lows. From a slow start in Borås way back in April, to the podium glory of Lidköping, another podium performance snatched away from us in Skövde, and undiscovered bent chassis woes of Gothenburg, now it was back home to the Glimminge Ring for the decider. Going into the final round Deven held a razor thin grip on 2nd in the driver’s championship, but was at a huge disadvantage due to having to remove the worst result in the series from your points tally, as he was most likely going to be forced to erase 8 more points than his rivals around him. He would basically have to win and have 2 of the 3 drivers around him not finish in the final in order to hang on to his position. A realistic result and one to be proud of for the season would be to take home 4th in the driver’s championship.
Free Practice Saturday Our man Deven was in good form, driving well with excellent minimum speed and low engine rpms higher than those around him, but the top end was letting him down badly. Again almost a second off the pace of the leaders, all at the back end of the straights, but this time the cause was known. The race motor was making its return, newly serviced, and so was a little tight, and thus the team were running it all through the practice day to break it in for the race day tomorrow. It was accepted and expected behaviour, so the mood was still one of quiet confidence as they packed in the gear prepping for race day the next morning. Data points were not lying.
Race Day Sunday
Free Practice 1 & 2 | 5 & 10 minutes | P8 & P7 The early morning session was cold and damp, so representative times were not being put up on the timing sheets. Quiet session trying to run in the motor. No panicking yet. The second session was expected to be better, but still the engine was refusing to breathe and give Deven the power he needed down the straights, about 300 revs down on where it should be. Deven was again top of the charts on the data in the corners but getting mugged on the straights by almost everyone. Still finished one better in P7 going into qualifying, but too far off the pace to be comfortable at all.
The races just keep coming, hard and fast! Marking the halfway point in our hectic 4 race September, the Team 13 Karting Circuit would again be our hosts. It was time for the 2022 Gothenburg Grand Prix, an annual event that attracts drivers from across Sweden, and the Formula Mini class was no exception.
It was a strong field full of drivers the team hasn't raced against previously, so it was going to be a good measure of our driver’s meddle, especially as we were looking to put up a better showing this time around than at the same track two weeks ago in the 4th round of the Kart Cup West. During that weekend, we had shown a notable lack of pace and the gap to the front was too large. We were looking to remedy that situation.
Practice Friday Friday was a lost day in many respects. The team was only able to arrive at the track and get the paddock area setup complete in time for two runs in the afternoon before the track closed down for registration and technical inspection for the racing tomorrow.
On top of that, it had started to rain after lunch and by the time Deven got himself out on track it was very wet conditions. A few off track adventures into newly laid dirt in the runoff areas, meant to be planted grass but transformed into mud pits because of the rain, meant that more time was spent rinsing off and cleaning up the racing machine than driving it out on track.
Not much time for analysis here, but Deven was able to study driver coach commentary from his 9th place finish in Malmö the previous week, so not all was lost.
Race Day The event had a slightly different format than what we are used to in the SKCC and KCV series the team runs in, with only a single practice warm up session before a 7min qualifying session. Then it would be two 8 lap sprint qualifying heats to determine the grid for a longer 10 lap Pre-Final race. The results from the Pre-Final would determine the starting grid for the 16 lap Feature Final.
It has been no secret that the team have been underperforming since the restart of the season after the summer break. Confusion and frustration had ensued as a result, trying to find the root cause of the problems that were manifesting themselves out on track.
Having poured over the racing machine, practice and race engines, and driving mechanics and technique into the smallest details, it was very difficult to find any one thing that could be causing such a loss in competitive pace. No avenue was left unexplored in the quest to rediscover the speed and performance we had shown throughout the Spring. A new driving coach was brought in to help the racing pilot fine tune his mental and physical preparation and technique. Borrowed race mechanics were brought in from fellow Intrepid Driver Program Sweden teams to supplement the team’s own resources (Special thanks to Intrepid Driver Program Sweden Team Alehall Racing!!).
It was a deep, dark hole the whole team had found themselves in, and on top of this, the final testing session at the Glimminge Ring in Uddevalla, our home and base of operations, showed that both the team’s engines had developed an unexplainable weakness. Neither wanted to rev into the high powerband all of the sudden, and it was as if the bottom had fallen out of both of them. No grunt on the low end and no push on the high end.
So it was with some trepidation that the team prepared for the 6th round of the South Sweden Kart Championship Cup 4 hours down the road in Malmö, Sweden, arriving later in the evening on Thursday in preparation for free practice on Friday. Our racing driver, Deven, however, was in a determined mood. He had a quiet confidence and focus about him that hadn’t been shown since his stellar performance in Skövde in the 3rd round of the Kart Cup West in June.
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.