FRIDAY FREE PRACTICE
It was a warm and sunny morning that greeted the team as it pulled up and took its place in the AD Motorsport tent, which was starting to feel more and more like home as the halfway point of the season approached.
The day’s testing program was discussed and decided upon, motors delivered and installed, driver’s suited up and it was out on track to execute. The Kid was quick from the get go, pacing in the top 5 during the morning sessions and getting quicker as the track started gripping up properly towards lunch. Even with the pace, the engine temps were seemingly on the low side, and after a bit of discussion it was decided to make some adjustments to the carburetor to try and eke out the last bit of waft we could get from the engine.
Unfortunately the adjustments backfired and the data showed the oomph out of the sticky corner exits not at the same level as earlier. Not wanting to just put it back the way it was before, different settings were tried, but the original supplier's specifications proved to be more optimal, even if it felt like it was a compromise. Too many sessions were lost this way and unfortunately, no really good new tire data was able to be collected going into race day, not to mention that the driver's confidence was not helped by being a few tenths off the morning pace at the end of the day.
Even so, we were confident that we would have the jetting issues sorted and would be right on pace on race day.
SUNDAY RACE DAY
Warm up Practice - 2x 10 min | P17 & P8
Two very different sessions as the morning track evolution was exponential. Deven would go out in Group A, the first karts out on track in the morning. The team misjudged the conditions and got the tire pressures wrong. Grip never came on a notoriously grippy track, and it was an irritated driver that came off the track for the first session.
The mechanics knew what they were about, though, and were comfortable that by the time the last warm up practice came, the track would come back to them. They were right. The Kid looked much racier, setting the 5th best time in Group A and 8th best overall. Now it was a matter of matching or bettering that time when it counted, in qualifying. It would be critical, because Group A was proving to have much faster drivers in it than Group B, and staggered qualifying classification would definitely be to Group B’s advantage this weekend.
Qualifying - 8min | P11 (Group A) P21 (Overall)
It was a very tight field in and around the top 15 that would go into qualifying, with only a couple of tenths in it from the 4th best time down to 16th on the time sheets. Our young driver got a slow start out of the pits and ended up in suboptimal track position. It wasn’t until his fifth lap that he was able to get a free flyer. It was three tenths off his earlier practice session pace and only good enough for P11. Once again hitting traffic the next lap, time was running down already on our young driver.
Now on lap 7 the track opened up before him and he would be able to push. Unfortunately a wobble right at the start in turn two cost him the lap, and he wasn’t able to improve, and slipped to 13th on the live timing. The next lap was better, no real visible mistakes, but the kart seemed a bit heavy on exit. He managed to improve, and back up to P11 in the Group, but was still off his earlier pace by 2 tenths, which would have seen him jump to P5 in this session.
The next lap proved to be his last free lap and another key moment proved fatal, this time at turn 4, where he had to make a sizeable correction at apex, and killed his exit out of the corner and up the hill. It was probably a 3-4 tenth loss and he couldn’t make it back up, not able to improve. It was his last free lap, as he caught traffic again going up the back hill to the final hairpin at turn 9, and took the checkered flag to end his session P11 in the Group.
It was a tough one for our driver who felt hard done by only getting what he felt were 3 real chances to set a good time. But you have to take the opportunities that come your way, and he wasn’t quite able to do it in that session.
Even so, it was 17th on time, but unfortunately Deven would have to start from the 21st grid position for the qualifying heats with the staggered classification, behind several karts that qualified over a half second slower than he did. Had he been drawn in Group B he would have started 12th for the heats. Such are the breaks sometimes.
The disappointment was palpable. Everyone in the team knew there was much more pace in both machine and driver, but again it was a failure to show it that could have the potential to derail any hopes of a good result. There is nothing to do but move on and go racing.
Qualifying Heat 1 - 10 laps | P21 → P14
Now, our driver Deven is known up and down the paddock for his uncanny ability at race starts to navigate his way smoothly and cleanly through the pack from the midfield in fearless and attacking displays of graceful and clean aggression. We were crossing our fingers and hoping for an extra helping of just that on display today. It was now a long game strategy to move up the ranking as much as possible for the Super Heat, where the grid would be reorganized based on the 2 qualifying heat results.
Unfortunately, things didn’t start out well from the get go. During the formation lap, all seemed well, and The Kid was going about his tire prep procedures for the start. Then, just as they crested the hill at the far back of the track in the final hairpin, the engine sputtered to a stop as the karts slowed to a crawl to line up for the run down to the tram lines for the start. Deven scrambled to fire the engine back up as he fell away from his 21st grid position and kart after kart passed him up as he cried out in desperation. Luckily they were rolling down a steep incline at this point towards the final red line, marking the spot where you can no longer retake your starting position before the rolling start. It was probably only this fact that enabled our young pilot to get the engine started back up.
He had no time to try to retake any positions and would rumble down the final chicane and into the tramlines P29 instead of P21. The lights went out and we were racing. It was as if the racing kart had become ethereal as Deven somehow guided the kart through the ridiculously tight and heavy traffic of the first 4 corners as everyone around him jostled for position, Deven in the middle of several 3 and 4 kart wide sandwiches as he ghosted his way past kart after kart. He got an excellent exit out of the opening corners and up the first high speed section towards the turn 5 right hand kink before the fast turn 6 “Glass Corner” - emerging 12 places up in 17th and leading the pack behind. Now he had to chase down the next pack that had gotten away halfway up the hill ahead.
By the end of the 1st lap he was bearing down on the group of 4 ahead going into the tight and technical 1st sector. They were bunched up and fighting and just as the Grabko GP and AD Motorsport #14 had caught them, 3 of the 4 karts came together at the turn 4 hairpin, with Viktor Svan’s Formula K #10 machine coming up over the top of the Birel Art #131 of Nieminen and flipping (AGAIN! Averaging a flip a race weekend in Mini 60 this season!) right over the top of Thindra Ramberg’s #42 Parolin. Deven avoided the 3 but lost momentum up the hill, and Kevin Gharib, who was showing real pace this weekend, took advantage, momentarily taking his #132 Falcon chassis through.
Deven hit back immediately and was by again, now in P14 and charging down his old 2022 Formula Mini nemesis, Alve Strömberg. A dominant force in the Swedish Formula Mini by Radne class, he had found the transition to the international Mini 60 category a bit more difficult to come to terms with than our man Deven. The #16 Tonkart was showing good speed this weekend though, and was a harder nut to crack for our young driver than what had come before.
All the same, The Kid drafted up the back of Strömberg up the long back straight towards the final hairpin, had enough speed to take him under braking on the inside and be in P13 as they came back down the hill through the final chicane and out onto the start finish straight for the 2nd time.
It was then a back and forth battle for P13 for the rest of the race, with the Ward Racing #94 of Hugo Eklund hooking up to the back of Grabko ad Strömberg after a couple of laps due to their position swapping, to make it a 3 kart race. They were too far back at this point to work together to catch the next group o f karts ahead, so it became a psychological battle to see who would come out on top between the 3. Deven needed to make the move on Strömberg and try to pull away this time.
He did make the move at the turn 7 hairpin at the bottom of the hill on lap 7, and was P13. For the next 2 laps he held position going into the final lap. Deven decided to go defensive in the first tight sector, which caused him to unfortunately lose out on the exit slightly at turn 4 and gave Eklund an opening going up the hill to turns 5 and 6. The #94 was happy to take it, as he snaked up the inside at glass corner and took the position. Deven tried to fight back right away but couldn’t beat his opponent to the apex of the turn 7 hairpin and loss momentum out of the corner. The slight loss of momentum meant that Deven couldn’t close back up to draft up the hill and the fight was effectively over.
P14 then - up 7 spots from his grid position, but up 15 spots from where he actually started the race.
Qualifying Heat 2 - 10 laps | P21 → P8
One heat down and another to go before the grid would reset for the Super Heat. Another performance like that would put us in good stead to be able to attack forward and move significantly up the grid for that race. But first we had to execute here and now.
And that is exactly what The Kid did. This time around there were no scary engine dying moments and we were able to start from 21st as intended. The start was unfortunately not quite a carbon copy of the magic he produced in the first heat. He made it through cleanly but wasn’t able to sail past the big wall of karts as he had done in the first race of the day. P15 out of the first sector and dropped 2 spots on the way up the hill toward glass corner for the first time as he lost momentum stuck behind the #10 of Viktor Svan, who had flipped his kart in the first heat.
It was the #114 of Falcon driver Simon Karassass and the Formula K of #99 Eric Bondarov-Naperotti that made it through, leaving Deven in 17th after the first half lap. Only up 5 spots instead of 12 - but no panic for the young kid though, and he caught right back up to them before the end of lap 1, making a brave double pass and threading the needle, on outside of Svan and inside of Naperotti as they went 3 wide across the finish line to be P15 going into the first corner again. Lap 2 saw an unfortunate retirement for the #35 of Charlie Jonasson, who was forced to coast to a stop on the long straight up the hill to turn 8. Jack Salomonsson had fallen back into the grasp of our man Deven after being passed by Karassass, but he attacked right back again, and got the #114 through the chicane. Deven was able to follow through as Simon got wide and was forced to let off or go flying into the grass a 100kph, and it was up to 13th after 2 laps.
Now Deven was at the back of a 6 kart train fighting for 7th position. Deven took advantage of their fighting and passed Eklund easily on lap 4 after the Ward Racing Driver lost out and went wide at glass corner. Liam Secall in his #69 Parolin machine seemed to have hopped a chain and was parked up on the inside before the next corner and it was P11.
The Energy Corse chassis underneath him was feeling quite racy, and Deven used the machine to its fullest. He chased down the 4 karts ahead in short order and now had to be smart about how and when to pounce and make his way through. He got his moment lap 6 when the #127 of Alex Stasiak and the #23 of Elton Hedfors both got passed by the crafty Jack Salomonsson at turn 4. Deven sailed past them both as well and now it was another juicy battle between the fierce and clean competitors, often finding themselves fighting over the same piece of tarmac during the first half of the season.
Deven had him on pure pace this time though, and he drafted up behind and sailed on through to claim P8 with 4 laps to go. The next group of four ahead were fighting for 4th spot, but were 2 seconds ahead at this point, a very tall ask this far up the field with 4 laps to go and all five of them lapping basically identical times. Deven consolidated his well earned P8 during the final laps, gapped those behind by a full second, and took the checkered flag in the position, setting his fastest lap of the race in the clean air of that last lap.
It was exactly what the team needed and what the driver deserved, and would set us up well for the Super Heat to come.
Super Heat - 12 laps | P11 → P9
The scintillating qualifying heat performances were rewarded with a P11 starting position on the grid for the Super Heat. The little guy had done it, and against the odds gotten himself through the gauntlet of starting at the back of the midfield for the heats to elevate his ranking to the front of the midfield instead.
This is where the hard part would begin. In the pack of 15 just outside the top 3, everyone was just as fast as everyone else and it was going to be clean starts and consistent, smart race craft that would be key to continuing his march forward for the Final.
Deven just never gets to have it all his way though, and pre-grid and formation lap chaos would mean an actual starting position of P15 when the lights went out. Deven had motor problems out of the pre-grid, his engine stalling just as he rolled out onto the track. Only a few meters from the pre-grid, but officially out on track, if he couldn’t manage to get it started he would be forced to retire with mechanics and coaches agonisingly close but unable to assist. In 15 of the longest seconds in the history of the universe, Deven tried over and over again to get the motor to turn back over. To his and the team’s very great relief, it eventually did and he powered his way as fast as he could to catch back up to the snake of karts lining up to take the start. The leaders had been extremely fast and hadn’t collected the pack enough for the race director to start the race and chaos then ensued as at the start of the 2nd formation lap, two karts crashed and the pack jumbled up again.
At this point there were so many karts out of position, and Deven found himself almost back to his original starting spot as everyone tried to figure out where they were supposed to be again. He would end up starting P15 behind the #4 Falcon of Ludwig Granquist. He was still 4 rows back from where he would otherwise have started but it was quite a bit better than the alternative of starting at the back.
The lights went out and they were racing! The outside line missed the start and Deven gained several places before the first corner, coming out of the first sector skirmishes in P10, still right behind Granquist.
Deven got stuck having some defending to do and lost momentum, giving up a position to the tenacious Jack Salomonsson. Deven was not having it though, and stayed right on him, and made the reverse overtake for P9 at the glass corner.
Next up the road was the #132 of Kevin Gharib, a man on a mission today and punching above his weight - a bit like Deven was.. Deven asserted himself in the first sector on lap 6 and they fought through turns 2 and 3 before Kevin was forced to concede and Deven was through to P8.
During the rest of the race, Deven set about trying to catch the group ahead, all the while a rocket ship Stasiak was closing in on him lap after lap. Alex caught him on lap 12 and Deven couldn’t keep him behind, taking the checkered flag in P9.
Have to be happy with that - more forward progress and now only the Final awaited.
Final - 14 laps | P7 → P11
7th Position. This was our ranking after tabulating the combined heats and super heat results. It was quite the recovery after the bitter disappointment of the morning qualifying session. In the intervening races, Deven had maintained a focused and determined attitude, and made sure he had put himself in positions on track to take advantage of the opportunities that came his way. Now he would start from the inside of the 4th row for the Feature Race.
It was a nice heap of points he now had in the bag for the Swedish Kart League championship, and now all attention was on maximising the result for the Final. The team were crossing their fingers to avoid any heart in mouth moments with engine stalls at the start. The engine was hesitant out of the blocks, but Deven calmly got it going and this time the formation lap went smoothly for our enthusiastic young talent.
The start went off and Deven was through the first two corners smoothly. Going into turn 3, he left plenty of room for his opponent, who was side by side on the inside. Unfortunately it was not enough to avoid an incident. The #101 of Reistrup got clattered into from behind by Stasiak, and then ran right into Deven’s #14 Energy Storm machine before they even turned into the corner for turn 3. The incident was costly for the Dane, who was immediately forced to retire. For our man, Deven, he was popped out onto the marbles and forced to watch 6 karts slide right on by before he could get back in line and continue his race.
It was a bitter blow for The Kid, who had worked so hard to get to that position, done everything right, and then shoved out like that at the start. Either way, Deven ended up coming out of turn 4 a net P11, and feeling extremely hard done by.
There was nothing to do but get on with it though, and the young man did his best to gather himself together and salvage what he could. He spent the next two laps trying to regain his poise, but now had been sucked into a gaggle of karts fighting with him for the P11 that he owned for the moment. He was forced to go defensive, lost momentum on the chase ahead and then conceded 2 more positions, first to the Swedish CRG driver, the #19 of Gustav Christensen, and then to the Danish Parolin of #533 Noah Antonsen.
It was all unravelling for him as he fought to regain some composure and get back in the fight. P13 with 11 laps to go. Come on! One lap later both he and Antonsen caught up to Gharib, and in a hairy moment, Deven had to pull out of a pass attempt at the high g-force turn two to avoid crashing with him. He somehow managed to keep momentum and was able to get Kevin on the inside of turn 3 instead and keep up the hunt to get back at Antonsen. P12 after 5 laps.
Deven was able to extend a relatively comfortable gap behind as he kept pace with Antonsen, who in turn was catching the 2 karts ahead of him. Deven needed to try and do the same. By lap 8 he had done so and was right onto the back of Christensen again. There was a pack of karts behind that would close up on Deven again if he didn’t get by The #19 quickly. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to materialize.
On lap 10 Deven was right up on the back of the Brandon Racing driver when they came upon a yellow just as they crested the glass corner turn 6. So instead of pulling to the inside to make the pass, Deven was forced to ride the back of the CRG’s bumper until after the next flag post showing green. That doesn’t show until after the braking point for turn 7 and so Deven lost just a fraction of the momentum he needed to draft enough to power past him going back up the hill.
Lap 11 saw the same section still under yellow, again thwarting Deven’s plans of sailing through on the corner. All four karts - five now as in the intervening laps, Charlie Jonasson had hooked onto the train forming behind the #46 of Hampus Holmberg, who didn’t have quite the pace of those behind but was able to hold them all off due to the yellows. Deven was slightly into the back of Christensen into turn 7, again an ill timed contact that cost Deven any hopes of carrying momentum through the corner and drafting on the long uphill straight to turn 8.
This time it took Deven a lap to get right back on their tails, and now there were only two to go. Still P12. Deven got a run up the inside of turn 2 and was side by side going to turn 3, but was in the wrong position to force the issue being on the outside and had to file back in, and get a worse exit out of the corner. Luckily they were both able to keep in contact with Antonsen and Holmberg ahead but there would be no opportunities to pass the rest of the lap and it was going to be a final lap shootout for P9. This fighting meant that Jonasson had fully joined the fight behind Deven and now it was a 5 kart race for the top 10.
Deven was a rocket ship in the technical first sector, and again got a good run on Gustav out of turn 3. Unfortunately he had not learned from his mistake the previous lap and again went up the outside instead of switching back to the inside and waiting for Gustav to open up for the corner. He again was forced to concede and was lucky to not lose a position to Charlie behind.
Then it all went off in almost inevitable final lap chaos style. Up ahead the fight for 2nd had gotten bloody. Ward Racing and former AD Motorsport driver, the #27 of Melvin Kolousdian, and current AD Motorsport teammate, the #12 of Jonathan Landström, came together at the turn 8 hairpin, ending with Kalousdian facing the wrong way and out, while Landström’s chain had hopped off and he was rolling down the hill solely by the power of gravity, literally willing the kart to roll across the line. He would take the checkered flag P6 and Kalousdian would be excluded from the Final completely for unfair driving.
What it meant for the battle our man Deven was in is that it should all have been neutralized. The 5 karts fighting for P9 came up the hill for the final time line astern, all poised to make a last ditch effort at the last overtaking spot on the track before the finish line.
Except now it was under yellow flag conditions. Deven saw Christensen open up the corner instead of defend, letting off before the braking point to corner entry. This forced Deven to take evasive action and duck to the inside to avoid smashing into the back of him. He still made some contact but it wasn’t too bad. However, this also meant he edged ahead. The Kid didn’t know what to do - how does he correct this so he doesn’t get DQ’d for passing under yellow? Well, he tried. He let off the gas halfway to try and let Gustav take his position back. At the same time, Charlie Jonasson came charging through down the inside so they were 3 wide, and seemingly swept past both Deven and Gustav, passing Christensen for sure, and it also looked like he had his bumper just slightly ahead of Deven’s before coming across the next flag post that was blinking green. Charlie completed the move just as they came to the final chicane and stormed down the straight to the finish line. Gustav regained his position by a hair’s breadth as they came out of the chicane and then he and Deven both smashed it to the floor to the finish line. Gustav ended up edging it by a mere 0.002s. It was truly a photo finish, and also one of the most confusing and complicated final 300 meters of racing in a long time. After the checkered flag, Gustav almost binned it into the tire barriers outside of turn one as Landström was basically at a standstill right in the middle of the track, just past the finish line. Luckily he managed alright and didn’t crash heavily.
It then took over an hour after the last Final of the day for the race officials to figure out to their satisfaction who had passed who under yellow and who had not. It was not only the fight Deven had been in, but also when the final flag post had gone back green, and where and when Landström had been on track when those behind passed him up as he rolled across the finish line at a crawl.
In our case, Deven was adjudged to not have overtaken with intent, and to have done everything in his power to give back the position as soon as possible. The fact that he lost out in the end also weighed in his favor. Unfortunately for Charlie, he was not as lucky. He was adjudged to have overtaken Christensen under the yellow flags and seems to have missed the yellow completely. He was excluded from the final as a result.
After the dust settled in the aftermath, it was a P11 finish for the quickly developing young race driver.
Another hard core and ultra competitive day at the races for Deven, whose progress has been upwards at an accelerated rate during the first half of the season. Showing top 10 pace throughout the day and displaying for the entire field that he is a force to be reckoned with on the race track, the whole team can be satisfied with what they witnessed from him this weekend. Could the end result have been better? Yes - had things gone our way at the start of the final, the pace was there to really have challenged for a podium spot properly. Could qualifying have been executed better? Absolutely. As it was, all signs indicate we continue to move in the right direction.
The result also gives really good points in the Swedish Kart League driver’s championship, where The Kid now moves up a massive 4 places to 6th after 3 of 5 rounds completed. He still also maintains 3rd spot after 4 rounds in the unofficial IAME Series table that includes all engine manufacturers. Next up is a special one - the Swedish National Championships, where together with AD Motorsport, we will take on Sweden’s very best at the Rörken Ring National Karting Circuit in Rasbo, Sweden, just outside of Uppsala. Deven went well here in the first round of the IAME Series Sweden, starting the final on the front row in P2 and finishing P4 in the end, so looking forward to a similar display in the dog days of Summer, July 11-15. Don’t miss it!
Man, that was crazy! I have no idea what happened on that last lap. After Charlie flew by I didn’t know if it was ok for me to hit the gas or not, or what was going on! But BRAH! Whoever hit me at the start, that guy should have gotten a big penalty. Just because it is the start doesn’t mean you can just try to bulldoze your way through. I left so much space and then was smashed into out of nowhere! So angry about that, I couldn’t get over it for hours! In tears of frustration almost the whole way home, man! I had the pace today and was looking at those ahead on the starting grid - I could have easily been there with them! But I feel that outside of qualifying, I drove really good the whole day and am really happy with that. Everyone around me is telling me results will come, but I am not really a patient guy, so I want it now!”
Extremely proud of The Kid today. He showed a lot of really great qualities in his driving and race craft - there were moments where he was completely unrecognizable to the little guy that showed up for pre-season testing in February. Other times you were wondering what he was thinking trying to make some moves work that were never going to stick. Was there more in it for him today? Absolutely, and the fact he is so upset after the Final is just a testament to his own growing expectations for himself. We have to remember it is a process and there are steps forward and steps backward. As long as the steps forward are bigger than those backward, we should be happy. We are extremely happy at the moment.”
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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