SATURDAY RACE DAY
Warm Up Session 1 | 10min | P3 Group, P4 Overall
In the morning the plan was to use a scrub set of tires for the first warm up and then use the fresh new set to run them in during the 2nd warm up and see which tires to scan in for the rest of the race day.
Well, where did we take the scrub set of tires from? The testing chassis, of course. Speed. Right at the front and within hundredths of a second of being fastest as all 3 AD Motorsport Energy Storm Chassis were the class of the field, easily outpacing all but one of the rest of the competition by almost 3 tenths of a second.
Warm Up Session 2 | 10min | P7 Group, P11 Overall
All was looking good, right? Well, not for our man Deven, anyway…on went the new set of tires and up went the lap times. Deven lost a whole 4 tenths of a second compared to his first run, and there was no other real explanation. Teammate Alexander Frykberg had a similar experience, but not as drastic.
It was never considered to go back to the testing scrub tires for the rest of the day, when in hindsight it should have been at least talked about. No, the backup plan had always been to go with the other new set that had been tested in the final session on Friday, which had also been slower.
Qualifying | 7min | P4 Group, P4 Overall (P7 Staggered Ranking)
Well the tires were scanned in now, and the only thing to do was get on with it. Full focus ahead and see what we could do. It was immediately apparent that it was not a real improvement over the final warm up.
Deven got faster and faster as the session went on in relative terms, but in absolute terms he was nowhere compared to earlier. Only able to improve by a couple hundredths of a second from the previous session, it was barely good enough for P4 in the Group in the end, just under 4 tenths off of pole position.
It was also good enough for the 4th best time overall, but because all the fastest drivers were in the same grouping, the 101% rule came into effect, causing the results to be staggered. What this meant for Deven was that he would still be in Group A, but would now be ranked 3rd in Group A instead of 2nd, where his time would otherwise have placed him. It moved him from P3 on the grid for his qualifying heats to P5, and just made things that much more difficult for The Kid leading up to the Pre-Final, as he knew his compromised pace would make it difficult for him to fight all the way at the front once the races got through their start phases.
The starts would be where he could make track position and hope to drive smooth and clean to maintain any gains he could make at the start. Once the races got into the middle phase and everyone got up to full race pace, it would be hard for him to go hunting today on the rubber he was stuck with.
Qualifying Heat A+C | 12 Laps | P5→P3 Overall (P3→P3 Kart Cup West)
The plan was simple. Use the inside grid starting position to your advantage and gain as many spots at the start and during the first lap as possible before the race really gets going so as to minimize the damage the compromised race pace would create in the middle and later stages of each race.
Deven effected his strategy to perfection. By the 2nd corner he was up to P2 and used strong early lap pace to build a small gap back to P3 and the 3 kart group chasing just behind. Hopefully they would fight amongst themselves and Deven would be able to hold until the finish.
Well it almost worked! Indeed the race played out almost exactly as hoped for. Deven was relatively comfortable in 2nd place all the way until lap 10, holding a 2-3 tenth gap between him and P3, the Pirelli Racing Formula K driver Viktor Svan, when teammate Frykberg, who had started in P2 and lost out from the outside of the grid at the start, finally was able to break through into P3 with 2 laps to go. He had the extra 2 tenths of pace to push up on Deven, so as they crossed the line to start the final lap, he was right on Deven’s rear bumper.
The move was made under braking at turn 7, and Deven chose not to defend heavily, in order to ensure he didn’t ruin both their races and so as not to lose momentum and possibly drop even further back.
They crossed the line together, Deven having to be satisfied with a well executed first Heat to start his day, and Frykberg showing increasingly good pace and race craft to capitalize on it.
Qualifying Heat A+B | 12 Laps | P5→P3 Overall (P4→P3 Kart Cup West)
The strategy was the same. Take places at the start. Build whatever gap you can in the early phase of the race. Hope it is enough to hold position to the end. Focus. No mistakes. Consistency.
Again Deven made the race come to him through sheer willpower. He felt as though he had to wrestle the kart the entire time to make it do what he wanted while the squirrelly rear end wanted to step out constantly due to the sub-par rubber.
Somehow he managed to do it again. Gaining two spots at the the start he wasn’t quite able to push through to P2 past Svan on this occasion, the Swede putting up a stiffer defense this time around going into turn 2 and successfully holding off Deven’s attack there and at turn 7 when Deven had a brief look before deciding better of a late lunge. He also wanted to finish the race, after all.
This time his main rival for P3 would be good friend and competitor Eric Bondarov-Naperotti. He had started the race from P4 but lost out on the start a couple of places and had to use the first 2 laps to get himself back into 4th. However, he was never able to get closer than 2 and a half tenths behind Deven, and Deven was so consistent he never gave Eric an opening for an obvious attack.
There was a moment on lap 8 when lapped traffic presented a challenge, but happily both got through without compromising their races and in the end they crossed the line front to back well ahead of P5 and it was another job done in the heats.
Pre-Final | 12 Laps | P4→P6 Overall (P3→P4 Kart Cup West)
When the heat points were tallied, it was 3 drivers on 6 points, tied for 2nd on the intermediate classification table. Both the other drivers had 2nd and 4th place finishes to Deven’s two 3rd place finishes, so they won out on the tie breaking criterion, and Deven would be ranked 4th overall, 3rd in Kart Cup West for the Pre-Final.
It meant an outside grid position for the start, and this was really going to make things tough, especially at this track where it is so important. Taking into account that on this day Deven would have to rely on making good starts to get track position, it was going to be all about damage control here. Try to make sure not to lose too many positions in the first corners and see what could be done about fighting back in the first laps and not get caught in any upper midfield battles.
At the start, Deven was hampered by the man ahead as Viktor Svan missed the start slightly, so before he knew it, Naperotti and Frykberg were through, and the #25 of Linus Einarsson also took full advantage and made it through as well from P7.
So Deven came through the second corner in P7 himself now and needed desperately to make up something quickly if he was to stay with the leaders. Hugo Eklund, who had started P9, had also made a great start and was the kart ahead in P6 as they came down to turn 7 for the first time. Deven got a run on him out of the turn 4-5-6 combination and dove down cleanly to get by at the turn 7 hairpin to take P6.
He then pushed up to the P5 kart ahead, the Kart Republic of Einarsson, and on lap 3 tried a move at turn 8 but was too far back and had to back out of it. This proved to lose him some momentum, as the #132 of Kevin Gharib, right behind, was able to close up and dive down on Deven at turn 7 on the next lap, making it past for the overtake. But The Kid wasn’t having any of that! He got the better exit and hit back immediately at the turn 8 hairpin to regain the position.
Now back in P6 Deven tried to set about getting a rhythm back and consolidating his position, as well as pushing back up towards Einarsson. But he couldn’t shake off Gharib for 2 more laps and was forced into defending a little bit before being able to gap the Falcon driver and focus forward.
Unfortunately now it was lap 6 and the gap ahead was 1.3 seconds. Deven put in his best stint of the race here, putting in his three best lap times and charging up to the group ahead that had started to fight. He was able to close to within 7 tenths by the end but again not quite able to get close enough to involve himself. If he had been able to shake off Gharib earlier, and also kept his pace up when he got within a second of the group ahead, he would have had a good chance, but as it was, he allowed himself to get sucked into the pace of the drivers ahead instead of pushing on as before.
P6 was how it ended, then. While it was not a disaster, it would be another outside grid start and from a row back from before, making it even harder to stick with the front runners. Deven, though, was determined not to let a podium slip away from him.
Final | 16 Laps | P6→P5 Overall (P4→P3 Kart Cup West)
Deven found a way to make the start count on the outside. It was an audacious plan. Frykberg in P2 made a good start and as such was side by side Maximus Unt through first corner, but then lost out as both Einarsson and Svan sailed through on the inside. Deven decided to hang it on the outside through the first two corners as well and then have the inside line as the track narrowed up for turn 3.
It worked! Not really sure how, but it did. Eklund had a look down the inside of turn 2 and Naperotti was ahead, but Deven made it stick on the outside of turn two and had the initiative going into turn 3. He slotted into P6 there, and found himself with very good momentum as they came to the turn 7 hairpin for the first time.
He got a great exit there and a good run on both Naperotti and Frykberg, both of whom had gone defensive into turn 7 and not gotten out of the corner well. He made a great double pass, white lining the inside at turn 8 to get under both of them as Naperotti also went inside of Frykberg. 3 wide then through turn 8 as it narrowed at the exit. It was squeeky bum time for a moment as they all went through at the same time, but in the end they made it, and it was Frykberg who had to give way, going from P4 to P6, while Deven did the opposite, going from P6 to P4.
This was how the first lap ended and now the race was on! Frykberg and Naperotti fought with each other for 3 laps before Frykberg finally won out at Turn 8 and was back in P5. He was enormously quick today. Deven had been able to build a gap of just under a second, but Frykberg was rapid. Within two laps he had caught Deven. The Kid knew it would be better for him to try and follow Frykberg through, as he was just not on the same pace and fighting would only drop him back into the clutches of the chasing pack. The AD Motorsport teammates went down to turn 8 together on lap 6, and Deven did not go defensive when Frykberg made the inside move.
Naperotti was less than half a second behind as well now, though, and Deven had to make sure not to make any mistakes from here. It was a very similar situation to the earlier qualifying heat, with Naperotti able to close up to within a couple of tenths, but not get quite close enough to make any kind of passing attempt, as Deven seemed in control of this particular fight.
However, there was another driver who had found enough pace to join the fight for P5. It was the #43 of Jacob Wång. By lap 11 the Kart Republic pilot had been able to hook onto the back of Naperotti, but in a similar sort of yo-yo effect, he couldn’t quite close enough to make a move.
But on Lap 13 he decided to do it anyway. As they came out of turn 7, it looked like Naperotti didn’t have too much to worry about as Wång didn’t look close enough to pull to the inside. However, into the braking zone, Wång chanced an extremely late move that ended in tears for both Naperotti and Wång. As the corner closed up on exit, it was abundantly clear Wång needed to back out. Unfortunately he was fully committed and couldn’t get out from underneath Naperotti in time. He clattered into the rear left of Eric and spun him out, sending himself off the track and into the grass at the exit of the corner, ending his own race. Naperotti was able to continue but was now last of the runners.
While Deven was actually lucky to escape being involved in the incident as it happened only a few meters behind him, it was Hugo Eklund that really benefited. He had been circulating relatively anonymously in P8 since the middle stint of the race, but now all of the sudden found himself only one spot behind Deven.
This was significant for the Kart Cup West Driver’s Championship, as going into the weekend, Hugo was leading the series by 3 points. Had the crash not happened, it would have been another spot behind in the KCV classifications, and he and Deven would have been tied on points going into the final round in two weeks time.
As it was, Eklund would cling to a 1 point lead going into the last round, because this was how the race finished as the final 3 laps played out in rather unspectacular form. Deven was too far back to attack up to P4, even though he was able to close the gap slightly, and Eklund had no answer for Deven’s pace today, even given The Kid's challenging tire situation.
Deven crossed the line taking the checkered flag in P5 in the race, P3 in the Kart Cup West Classification. Another podium for our young pilot!
In the end a very satisfying end to an extremely challenging weekend, where we felt we were chasing and off the pace completely almost the whole time, but when we came up to breathe every once in a while we realized we were still inside the top 5 even with our tire woes. Deven showed great mental strength in the adversity, wanting so much to be up fighting for the win again after he tasted victory, and he saw glimpses of it in early free practice and warm up sessions. It was his 2nd podium of the series and also 2nd podium in 3 races, including his victory two weeks previous in Linköping at the Final Round of the IAME Series Sweden!
It just wasn’t meant to be today, to be all the way up at the front, but a warrior’s performance to ensure he secured a fine podium result, and kept the fight alive for the Kart Cup West crown going into the final round in Borås. It is going to be a real nail biter!!
Yeah, there was some niggling issues with the driving, but I think it was hard on Dev who was also trying to compensate for his tires and probably was made to try and push a little bit too hard in some places, and then in other situations it looked like he was relaxing too much, so some things we can still work on with consistency, but his lowest level is so high now, it is great to see, still in the top 5 when the material wasn’t quite there and the driving was compromised trying to make up for it.”
Grabko GP would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors, without whose support and trust, this journey would not be possible.
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Until next time, thank you all for the support!
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