SUNDAY - RACE DAY
All the rain that had held off the previous evening had come down overnight, in a deluge that had completely waterlogged the paddock area. The track was soaking wet as well, but it was no longer raining. It was clear that the morning warm up session would be wet, but all the teams and drivers held out hope that the track would dry out enough for slicks by the time qualifying came around.
Free Practice | 7 min | P5
It became clear right away during the course of the warm up session that every category that came out was seeing a dryer and dryer track, even if there would definitely be no slicks for the warm up. Going out in a full wet setup, Deven showed the same speed he had done in the dry the evening before. As the track kept getting better and better it was simply going to be a case of who took the checkered flag last. Well, it was not Deven. The Kid was wallowing around in mid pack of the time sheets until the last flying lap, where he set a time good enough for 4th position, when he was the first to take the checkered flag. The rest of the group of quick drivers he was chasing down getting in an extra lap.
He ended up P5, but this was just a preamble to the drama that would ensue for qualifying.
Qualifying | 8 min | No Time (LAST)
As the warm up sessions continued and the first categories started their qualifying sessions, it was still wet tires that were faster. There was literally no wind to help with the drying of the track, and the clouds above seemed to be full of water, ready to dump it all down on the track at a moments notice. The Mini 60 qualifying was up right after the all the junior and senior kart categories, and were the first to really have to make a decision about which tire might be faster. It was a nightmare for the mechanics, waiting until the last minute to decide. There was a dry line right on the racing line, but not all the way around the track, and off line it was still treacherous.
It was a mixed bag that rolled out onto the track from the pre-grid. About 2/3 of the field went out on rain tires and played it safe. Our man Deven was not one of them. In a decision that was ultimately the correct one, as pole position and the top 6 qualifiers would all be on slicks, it would require easing into the session and not pushing too hard at the start.
Unfortunately for Deven, he didn’t make it that far. After an out lap where he successfully navigated his way around the track and set himself up well to start his flying lap attempts, he had a little niggle of a moment at the penultimate turn 13, but survived. He came out to the start/finish to start his first flying lap. He looked solid, under control, and pacy. Then he came down the short back side straight on to turn 11 and then the turn 12 kink into the tunnel. Out of the tunnel and back to the penultimate turn 13 again, and here he made a fatal error that would cost him his weekend.
Carrying just too much speed for the grip available on the slick racing tires, he desperately tried to rotate the kart through the still wet rubber line, and when he came through it the grip took and spun him around, his tail going off into the grass where he unfortunately beached himself.
What a disappointment. It was a blow that is hard to recover from, especially when you are looking to fight for pole position, and know you have the speed to achieve it. Team, driver, mechanics, coaches… nobody could actually believe what had just happened. It took the wind out of everyone’s sails.
No time. Starting last. Only two heats races to try and make a comeback to move up the grid for the Feature Final - no extra race like a pre-final or super heat to help climb back up the grid.
Qualifying Heat 1 | 6 laps | Last → P10
To make matters worse, only 15 minutes before the first heat race was scheduled to begin, and the track had dried enough to make it a dry race for sure, the heavens opened up for 2-3 minutes, with big, huge, juicy rain drops that sank the track back into wet conditions.
It was another blow to a bid for a comeback towards the front end of the field. In addition to making the race that much more tricky to pick your way through from the back - anything can happen in the rain, and it is so easy to get caught up in someone else's incident, but also the laps were cut from 8 to 6 according to the 75% wet race rule. Not a lot of time to make your way through the pack!
Nevertheless, the mission was clear - make up as many places as possible to improve your grid position for the final. If you can get into the top 10, it is a bonus.
The Kid was cautious at the start, which is uncharacteristic of his exciting and full send driving style. But he knew where he was in the championship standings, and that he couldn’t afford any more offs or DNF’s. He didn’t start pressing until after the first corner, and then he methodically started tiptoeing his way through the masses, kart by kart.
It was a parting of the waves, literally. He didn’t even seem to make any contact with any other kart during the race, even though he was going through them left and right, and also avoiding a crash in front of him on one occasion. It was smooth and calculated and an excellent performance.
He managed a top five lap time in the wet, even though he was in traffic the whole time, as he passed kart after kart, and in the end came home a well deserved P10. It was a great effort where he showed that he can focus and be precise as well as fast in treacherous conditions and put in a performance. First hurdle cleared and on to the next one.
Qualifying Heat 2 | 8 laps | Last → P12
During the lunch break, the sun came out in full force and the threat of rain diminished to zero. It was now only white, puffy clouds in the sky as the wind picked up and blew away the last traces of wet from the track. The sun was warm as well, when it was out from behind the clouds, and track temperature was rising.
Just the conditions we were hoping for going into the 2nd and last heat race before the final. And it was another prime performance.
Again taking a measured approach to the start, he trailed the pack through the first corner before picking his spot and entering the fray and dancing through the pack. Unfortunately in his favorite conditions, he lacked that decisive edge in his overtaking, and got caught an extra lap behind P16 as well as another behind P13 when he came upon them.
Thus when he got free on lap 6, he launched away like a rocket ship. In P12, he chased down the gaggle of 5 karts battling over 7th spot in short order, setting the fastest lap of the race and closing the gap rapidly to the trailing kart in that group. Unfortunately he now only had the final lap to catch them and also try to pass. He caught them going over the bridge for the final time, but first chose not to send it down the inside at turn 11, and then again hesitating at the key moment into the braking zone at the penultimate turn 13, ultimately crossing the line only a tenth behind them all, but having to settle for P12, and ruing the extra couple of laps spent behind slower karts when he needed to be more decisive in his charge.
Still, fastest lap of the race, which spoke to the form he was in, especially given the high level of competition. It also bode well for the longer 11 lap Feature Final to come.
Final | 11 laps | P13 → P5
After the intermediate classifications were tallied, Deven’s smooth performances earned him a place just outside of the top ten for the Final, the inside of row 7 in P13. It was one row further back than the team had been hoping for, to really be able to gain access to the front of the field right from the start, but other results had not quite panned out the way we needed them to in order for that to happen, and it was still a position where we could fight from and an outside chance at a podium wasn’t completely out of the question. The Kid had done it before, storming to a podium finish at the previous round in Gothenburg before the Summer break from P10 on the starting grid.
So there was all to play for as they fired up their engines in the pre grid in the now hot summer day, 23° and full sun bearing down on the track. As they rolled down the backside of the bridge, tension among the team was palpable - the last two Feature Finals had ended in tears within the first few corners when Deven had been in fine form as well.
This time though, he made it.
It was a measured, but still aggressive start. Deven held his line on the inside and followed right on the bumper of the #35 of Charlie Jonasson, not letting anyone get in between him and the kart ahead. He went through on the #56 of Frykberg through the first corner. P12. Jonasson made it by the #94 of Hugo Eklund, the championship leader, who slotted in behind and right in front of Deven through the second portion of the high speed “s” that starts the lap.
Up next though, was the first real overtaking corner at the turn 3 hairpin, which has a huge wide open entry and exit, making for a huge choice of racing lines and also for dive bombing the kart ahead. This time though, Deven was blocked by both Jonasson and Eklund, who came back at the #35 and they went side by side through turn 3. The Kid had to bide his time, but kept his momentum well and took advantage as Eklund held his outside line into the turn 5 & 6 double left hander. Deven got up underneath Eklund there before he could slot in behind Jonasson and the move was complete. P11.
That is how the first lap ended, but Deven was just getting started. His pace was electric, and he had to get through fast, before the top 4 got too far ahead. Next up was the #51 of Ward Racing Driver, Elias Johansson Åkerlund. He was caught at turn 4 but Deven was lining him up for the hairpin at turn 7 to beat him up the hill. Jonasson was also just ahead and lost some momentum at just turn 7 in a fight with the #114 of Simon Karassas, who got the better of Charlie and was off ahead. In probably the move of the weekend, Deven dared to try and take them both over the crown of the hill at the top of the bridge before the very hairy, very high speed turn 8. It was a 3 wide drag race over the bridge, and when they dipped from view down the backside, nobody knew whether the move had been done or even if they would all emerge down the back straight before the tunnel, where the karts remerge into view.
But he had done it. He took two positions and was already several kart lengths ahead by the time they came back to the tunnel, and chasing off after Karassas ahead. P9.
Such was Deven’s pace that he made up the over 1 second difference to Simon ahead in less than a full lap and as they crossed the line to start lap 5, and it was time to attack. Deven was in a groove, carrying so much speed through the corners and nailing every apex to perfection, it was actually almost breathtaking to watch this charge he was making through the field.
He swept through on Simon, sliding up the inside of the entry to turn 7 smoothly and then powering away after the next group of 3 more karts. P8. It felt as though the race was coming to him. But would he have enough laps?
Over the line to start lap 6 and the speed with which he closed up on the trio ahead fighting over 5th sport was spectacular. It was the #2 of Benjamin Poulsen, led by the the #131 of Ralph-Hugo Hager Nieminen, and the #99 of championship rival and friend, Eric Bondarov-Naperotti, all fighting for 5th spot. It couldn’t have worked out better for The Kid. Poulsen made a late move at Turn 7 and made contact with Nieminen, and both lost momentum just as Deven was swooping down on them anyway. He was able to smash the apex and accelerate by them without losing any momentum in his second double pass move of the race. P6.
Now the going was going to be a little bit tougher. The top 5 had pretty much had their way and had not been fighting. All very quick, they were not expecting Deven’s charging speed. Deven ate multiple tenths a lap out of the gap ahead to Naperotti and the speedy #9 of Ward Racing driver, River Nilsson. In two laps he had caught Naperotti. On lap 7 he made an unconvincing attempt to make another pass over the bridge but had to pull out because he had not been decisive enough. On the final corner of the same lap he again made a half move and pulled out again, losing momentum across the start finish line. These would be the only mistakes he made during the race, but they would prove critical, as we would see later.
Deven continued his chase, but now he had to start over and come again at Naperotti. He had about a 4 tenth of a second pace advantage over him and needed to get by now. This time around, as he came onto the back of Eric up the hill and over the bridge, instead of trying to make the pass there, he decided to push up against him and draft through the fast turn 8 and overtake at the braking zone of turn 10 instead. It worked to perfection. He dove down the inside, broke late and was through. P5.
Now the hunt was on for P4. How many laps were left? 2 or 3? He put his head down and pushed! He was taking tenths out of every sector and getting closer and closer with every corner, but would he have enough time to catch the speedy Ward Racing driver? It was going to be tight. Deven set the fastest lap of the race at the time in his chase, taking 4 tenths out of the gap on lap 10, going onto the last lap. Closer and closer but it just looked like it wouldn’t be enough. Tantalizing. He took 7 tenths out of the 1.2s gap in the last two laps to take the checkered flag only a half second off of P4. The failure to pass Naperotti on the first time of asking had cost him. One more lap was needed to push up and make a run at P4.
An incredible race weekend, and after such a run of bad luck in the last two Feature Finals, it felt like sweet justice that he had performed so well. Only Maximus Unt and Ludwig Granquist had been able to post a lap at the same level, with the trio the only drivers to post 58 flat lap times, and all three within 2 hundredths of a second of each other.
It was also a very important result for the Kart Cup West National Series driver standings. Deven had taken points off all of his championship rivals, the result putting him just above Naperotti, equal on points but by virtue of Deven’s podium in Gothenburg putting him into the 2nd spot, as well as narrowing the gap up to championship leader Eklund from 7 points to just 3 after Eklund would cross the line in 10th, but be promoted to 9th after a 3s penalty assessed to Nieminen for a false start.
It was a very satisfying weekend that had Deven and the team wondering what could have been had Deven put in even a mid-pack time in qualifying.
Dude! That final was probably the most fun race I’ve had all season, I mean I was on it. Focused and everything, and what a feeling! I mean the kart felt like it was reading my mind, doing what I wanted it to before I even did it. Huge thanks to Max and Alex for all their hard work with me this weekend. When we didn’t know what to do with tires and they supported me even when I let them down in qualifying. Fasberg also, amazing - what a rocket ship engine they had for me this weekend. The power was awesome! If I hadn’t screwed up qualifying we would have been fighting for the win!”
Yes, Dev continues to show he has it in him. We really need to iron out these silly mistakes, but The Kid has come so far in such a short time. He is ready to take a step and needs to show he can just put the whole weekend together. If he does that, it is looking really good for him.”
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!
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