Will The Klippan Curse Strike Again?
Sprint Heat B+C | 10 laps | P16 → P12
The field was split into 3 groups for the qualifying sprint heats - A, B, and C. Each group would race against each other and the results would be used to make up the grid for two semifinal races, which in turn would separately determine the grid for the ultimate final.
The Grabko GP and AD Motorsport driver was P8 in group C and thus would start on the 8th row of the grid for both of his sprint heats, on the outside in P16. It was another irritating niggle to start on the outside for both sprint heats, but above and beyond that, it was also the Kid’s first ever mini 60 race start.
He had earned a reputation for his powerful and aggressive starts in Formula Mini in previous seasons, but mini 60 is another kettle of fish, and in this group of drivers, he was seen as just another rookie to take advantage of. He would need to really gather all his nerve to not only survive the start against hardened international competition, but make any headway as well.
An extra formation lap was needed to start the race as the leaders were too eager the first time around and didn’t let the whole pack behind catch them up to make the start. It was only slightly better the second time around, but the lights went out and we were racing!
Deven held his own out of the gates, but lost a few positions in the shuffle to line up for the turns 2 and 3 combination that leads out onto the back straight. Then he gained a couple spots back coming back down the hill towards the infield section of the track, and another net position in the shuffling of the last sector of the track to end up back in 16th spot after lap 1.
From there he settled in to a nice bit of racing with the kart in front, and together they moved up through the field a bit after deciding tussling with each other wasn’t going to get them anywhere. Halfway through the race, Deven found himself in P14 and catching the group ahead with his sparring partner, the #13 of Swedish pilot Wilhelm Abelmann.
They caught and passed the next kart up the road, who then out-broke himself right in front of Deven almost ending both of their races but for some quick reactions from Deven, avoiding the spinning kart at the last second.
The evasive maneuvers meant that he lost a bit of momentum after that but caught back up on the final two laps and had a nice shootout for 12th position on the final lap, Deven drag racing his opponent to the line and only just missing out by less than 0.04s. However, a pushed in front fairing penalty for that same kart meant that Deven would be classified 12th of 31 in his first ever mini 60 race - not a bad way to start!
Sprint Heat A+C | 10 laps | P16 → P12
After lunch it was time for the 2nd and final sprint heat before the semifinals. With a successful debut race under his belt, and a couple of grilled hotdogs, Deven was ready and raring to go. He seemed to have grown in confidence as the day had gone on and was bolstered by the first race result. Now he knew he could compete near the top.
The start went better for the Kid than the first one as well. He was finding his groove and it showed. He made up 3 spots during the first lap and then followed through with the 4 kart group he was in to be in 12th spot halfway through the race. The final 5 laps were a ruthless but clean battle for a top 10 position, an international fight between Sweden (#35 Charlie Jonasson) Denmark (#111 Zackarias Ringstrøm) and the USA (#14 Deven Grabko).
Deven was slightly quicker than the two in front, but couldn’t get himself in a position to try and make a pass, pushing a bit too hard in the wrong areas, denying himself an attacking opportunity at the best passing zones on the track, which are the entry to the hairpin at turn 5, the entry to the slow “W” section at turn 9, and the final turn 11 at the end of the sector 3 “W.”
It all came down to another drag race to the finish line on the final lap, all three karts taking different lines out of the final corner. Deven got the best exit, but only just lost out in the end, crossing the finish line 0.009s behind Jonasson and Ringstrøm. Good clean racing at its best, but it was also clear that the Kid needed to hone his race craft skills, as he had been quicker and should have been able to get by both of his competitors a few laps previous.
It is a steep learning curve, but Deven was in the best school there is - seat time and practical experience.
Semifinal 2 | 12 laps | P8 → P7
After the two sprint heats, it was time to tally up the points and split the nearly 50 strong field into two groups for the semifinals. Deven landed in the 2nd race together with his AD Motorsport and mini 60 teammate, Jonathan Landström, who was having a poster weekend to start the season himself! The experienced mini 60 driver had been inside the top 5 the entire day, with a P2 and P4 finish in his heat races, earning him a front row spot for the semifinal, 3 karts in front of our man Deven, who was rewarded with a 4th row start for his sprint heat results. This was heady stuff for our young intrepid racing driver, who had never expected to find himself this far up the starting grid in the semifinals of his debut race.
But he went out and showed the field that he deserved to be there. He went proper red mist mode at the start, flying through the wide radius turn 1 and diving down into the turns 2 and 3 combination hard and fast, gaining 1 spot there and then charging down the lead pack through sector 3, diving down the inside at the final corner to take another. P6 after lap 1!
His pace was strong as well, and he seemed to be able to hold a comfortable gap back to the kart behind, who had their hands full fighting over 7th spot with a few other karts. He wasn’t able to make any headway forward though, and as the race progressed, he lost touch with the lead pack a bit. This meant that he lost the all important draft down the two back straightaways and this fact brought a charging #2, the Danish Swede Benjamin Poulsen, right up onto the back of him. Deven was forced to let him go as he realized he was just too quick to keep behind, and instead smartly decided to try to keep up with him as best he could to try and reconnect with the lead pack.
That was easier said than done, though, and after a couple of laps of chasing, Deven lost any effective draft and instead refocused himself and started putting in 3 personal best laps in a row. This was good timing as well. The final 4 laps saw the field compress into defend and fight mode. No more working together to catch up to the group ahead. Now was time to fight for position.
Deven accepted the challenge and drove home a well deserved and strong 7th place. This was a first top 10 result in his new class, and a statement of intent for the rest of the day and the season as a whole. Very satisfied faces inside both the Grabko GP and AD Motorsport camps.
Teammate Landström finished the semifinal in P2, and would start P3 for the big 15 lap Final, while Deven would be starting in P13 for the main event.
Final | 15 laps | P13 → P14
So this was it. Everything that came before had served only one purpose. To get to this position in the Final. It was all to play for. Starting on the 7th row of a final packed with race winning drivers from the length and breadth of Scandinavia in your debut race in the category. First time out with the new team, different chassis, different tires and engine, new routines and new expectations, new people to try and impress. It was an achievement in itself - but now it was time to complete the mission. It could still just as easily all end in tears at turn one.
On the pre-grid before the race, The Kid was feeling it a bit. “Daddy, I’m a little bit nervous.”
“Don’t you worry, kid. It is good to be a little bit nervous, it keeps you alert and on your toes. Just remember, be aggressive at the start, remember your driving technique, and do your very best. You know that whatever happens, I love you the mostest. You can do this. Let’s go!”
Pep talk and patent-pending handshake done, it was time. The karts fired up and rolled out from the pre-grid onto the track.
Deven was confused for a moment as the karts in front of him were out of position after the red line, the #81 of Carl Nellegård falling back behind the #111 of Zackarias Ringstrøm. He quickly put it out of his head, though. It wasn’t his problem and he was still in the right spot.
Pushing the back of Nellegård through the start, Deven thrust them both through and together they made up a spot right at the first turn, having the inside grippier line. They held station through the rest of the lap crossing the line in P11 and P12 respectively, and made a run at Ringstrøm as they crossed the finish line to end the first lap. They both made it through, Ringstrøm pressed the issue from the outside and tried to hang there through the whole first corner, but was forced to concede or go off into the marbles as Deven had track position on the race line already. At the end of lap 2 it was up to P11 for the young Grabko GP and AD Motorsport pilot.
3 more laps of close, tight racing saw Deven forced to begin defending his position only a third of the way into the race though, which meant he dropped off the pace of the pack ahead. Focused too much on those behind, the Kid battled back and forth, determined not to let go of position. It was too defensive however, and he did concede first one spot, and then one lap later another, although he fought back and took 12th again for 2 laps, it cost him, and he ended up losing 2 more positions on lap 10.
Now in 14th, he tried to bring it home but was again being hounded from behind, this time by another quick Ward Racing rival, the #33 of Alexander Frykberg. It was on the final lap that Deven lost the position, and ending the race on the back foot never feels good.
It was the first race of the weekend in which he had not gone forwards from his starting position, and he was angry and frustrated about it, as any racing driver worth their salt would be. The pace just couldn’t be found in the final, the last few tenths of a second per lap that would have made all the difference. He knew a top ten finish would have been on had he found that race pace, but it just wasn’t on the cards today.
After an hour or so to cool down, though, he was in a more reflective mood, “Yeah I mean with almost 50 drivers here it was always going to be hard. Our first goal was just to make the final. Instead I was right up there with all these experienced guys. I have to be satisfied with today even though I feel there was a top 10 in it for me, that would have been a dream start to the season. But top 15, in my first race in this super hard core new class, that is a good place to start. We can do good stuff from here.”
Overall a very productive debut weekend that saw Deven exceed all expectations from team, coaches, and boss. Deven showed that his entertaining and fearless driving style survived the change of class, and that he will be mixing it up with the top of the field this year.
The weekend marks the first of 7 race weeks in a row for the team, who are off to Malmö next weekend for the Malmö Rookie Cup, a warm up event for the upcoming Southern Sweden Kart Champion Cup race to be held at the venue after the summer break.
Grabko GP would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors, without whose support and trust, this journey would not be possible.
Brunbergs | Trollhättans Oljor | Chassis Autonomy | The Grabko Group
Until next time, thank you all for the support!
#karting #racing #motorsport #speed #grassrootsracing
#winningenergy #energycorse #admotorsport #grabkogp #usackarting
#hardwork #nevergiveup #believe #jointhejourney
#brunbergs #trollhättansoljor #chassisautonomy #gotrollhattan #visittv