Carburetors were dismantled, swapped, and gone over with a fine toothed comb with no obvious problems, and the equipment for opening up the motors in the paddock wasn’t available. It was panic time in the team tent. Again, it was our friends at Team Alehall Racing to the rescue. In a jaw dropping show of pure class unprecedented in motorsport, they offered their reserve motor as a straight swap to ensure that there was nothing else going on that we couldn’t otherwise detect.
The afternoon came alive for the team after this. Suddenly the kart was comparatively flying out of the corners and onto the straights, pulling on the karts ahead down the long uphill back straight, and Deven was making passing moves down the end. An over eight tenths of a second difference in the first run, and lap times well inside the top ten. The last few sessions confirmed the same, and it was in much higher spirits that the team packed it in for the evening to go back to the hotel and pour over the data and the on board footage.
There was still more to gain was the general feeling as the right front tire was picking up an inordinate amount of slag and rubber, and it was thought that somewhere out on track, Deven was either out in the marbles on exit or turning in outside the rubber. None of the video footage showed this to be the case, however, although some other good insights were able to be extracted in preparation for race day on Sunday.
Qualifying | 10min | P14
Out we went with a makeshift fix for the front end, and although it wasn’t optimal by any means, it was obvious that there was a difference. Much more confident on turn in, Deven was able to carve properly into the corners and lean on the kart to get him through and settle for the exit.
He shot up into the top ten in the first half of the session, but again got leap frogged and missed out on his best SKCC qualifying result of the season by less than two tenths of a second, and finished P14. Regardless, it felt really good for both team and driver to finally have a grip on the myriad of troubles that had seen us scrambling for answers, grasping at straws, and flinching at ghosts.
We went into the Sprint races with a new sense of purpose and confidence.
Sprint Heat 1 | 10 Laps | P14 → P12
Lining up in the 7th row on the outside for both sprint races was going to be tough. It was bound to bunch up and be a traffic jam, as just like in Jönköping, the Malmö circuit has a fast and long right hand first turn that ends in a tight chicane style double hairpin for turns 2 and 3. Deven had a hard time taking advantage of this style of layout before, and it proved to be the same again for him here in Malmö.
He got off the line ok, but got stuck on the outside and was forced to concede a couple of positions right off the start. Then on the way up the hill he was again forced outside and got mugged for a couple more. By the end of the first lap he had dropped down from 14th to 18th. Settling back down, our man was able to calm himself back into a semblance of a rhythm and started to chase the group back down that he had lost out to on the start.
On lap 4 and 5 it all went off on the track. It had been extremely tough racing, with nobody backing down throughout the field, and now in the mid-part of the race came the consequences. Coming back down the hill on lap 4, three karts got together at the first part of the ‘S’ right in front of The Kid. He was forced to take evasive action and instinctively went to the outside. He successfully navigated his way around, but the two behind him had time to assess the situation and dove down the inside of the corner instead and moved past. This netted The Kid down a place and he finished lap 4 in 19th spot.
Luck had definitely not been on our side for the first part of the race, but there was still more than half of it to go, and Deven rolled up his sleeves and got down to it. He didn’t let the two that had passed him get away and was already chasing them down on lap 5 when another incident, this time on the inside back straight just before the downhill section, finally gave him a bit of positive momentum.
In a five kart battle for position just ahead, contact right in in the middle of it ended up in three kart stopped on track, and Deven was able to take advantage and gain back an additional place as he navigated his way through the carnage, netting himself 4 spots back and at the end of lap 5 he was back in 15th spot with half the race to go.
He was on the move now. On lap 6 he made a nice move under braking into the same corner at the top of the hill and was back in his original 14th position. He then proceeded to chase down the next kart ahead during lap 7, and lined up another good move, getting a good exit out onto the back straight and pulling himself through in the draft to move up to 13th spot on lap 8. On to the next one, again chasing down for a lap, and then going for it on the final lap with a dive down the first hairpin to gain 12th. He held that going up the hill and finished the race in 12th, a gutsy battling performance that showed patience and maturity - surviving the hectic first part of the race and then attacking his way through to the end. A better start might have seen an even higher result, but also may have seen his crash out of the race.
We’ll never know, but were happy with the first sprint result.
Sprint Heat 2 | 10 Laps | 14th → 13th
The 2nd sprint heat was a much less eventful affair, although for The Kid, it was a similar pattern. A much better start off the line, and this time able to get to the inside of turn 2, and was able to hold station. However, a bit too aggressive going into the turn 4 and 5 uphill chicane complex saw our man Deven getting alongside in the wrong spot and being forced off track and into the gravel up the hill, which cost a position going onto the back straight for the first time, and we ended the first lap down a spot in 15th.
A good solid recovery saw Deven get into a rhythm much more quickly, and start his fight back up the field again. Hanging on easily to the pack ahead, he had to plan his way through, and the racing was much cleaner this heat, as the overexcitement shown in the first heat seemed to have settled the field in for the day.
On lap 4 he was ready and lined up a good draft down the back straight to make a pretty straightforward pass going into the high speed right hander at the end of it, and solidified his position in the next section. Then it was a long drawn out battle the rest of the race with a 7 kart train from 7th to 14th. Along the way a kart ahead was forced to retire due to mechanical issues and Deven inherited 13th spot.
This is where it ended for him and the team. Overall solid sprints in which better starts may have seen the team move up a few places, but overall good solid race craft and above all else, a never give up attitude. It was promising going into the final.
Feature Final | 16 Laps | 8th → 9th
This was it, what the entire race weekend had been building up to, and for the first time since the Spring, a final race that the team was feeling really positive about in the lead up to the lights going out for the start. A glimmer of sun shone down on the team’s fortunes as the starting grid was released to the teams. Due to the chaos of the first race and the resulting DNF’s in both heats, Deven’s solid and stable performances saw him earn the team a 4th row grid position, our highest of the season in the SKCC series. Starting in 8th position, the only slight negative being we would again have to start on the outside, the opportunity to get back into the top ten and record our best SKCC result of the season was well within our grasp. All that had to be done now would be to execute.
The starts had been a weak point on the day, and this one ended up being no different. Slightly hesitant off the mark, The opportunity to try to go the long way around the outside of the turn 2 hairpin presented itself to Deven, and he decided to take it. In hindsight he probably would have chosen to just solidify his position and tuck in behind to the inside, but he chose the adventurous route and almost pulled off a double pass. In the end, though, he was forced to pull out at the last second at the exit of the corner as he was out on the marbles and had no grip. This cost him two positions instead, and again he started out the race on the back foot. Could he battle his way back again??
It wasn’t looking good as the race developed. There was a bit of a mixed grid and there were several very fast karts behind as well. Deven lost another place in a 2 lap battle with the pole sitter as he made his way up the field, with Deven able to pass him back in a good move down the back straight, but eventually losing out on the next lap at the turn 2 hairpin again, where he left the door open too much and the other guy needed no more invitations to take advantage.
Then only a lap later he found himself in 12th after again hanging himself out to dry at the same turn 2 and getting passed down the inside. There were still two thirds of the race to go, but again the first stint had not gone well. Deven needed to collect himself, take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand.
He did just that. Lap times immediately fell and he was putting in personal bests as he chased back down the karts ahead, who were battling hard for position. For four long laps he hung onto the back of the group, waiting to see what he could do, and where to do it, when the opportunity presented itself to him on lap 9. He made a great run down the start/finish straight and the sweeping right hand turn 1, and slingshotted down the short straight to the turn 2 hairpin. He made a spectacular double pass diving down the inside and suddenly was in 10th spot again and right on the bumper of the racer ahead.
It wasn’t going to be easy to get past though. The pace was very even, and Deven also had to make sure he fended off the repeated challenges from behind as well as set himself up for an attack ahead. For four laps it was a yo-yo back and forth, closing up on the kart ahead, and then dropping back a bit when the need to defend from behind arose. It looked like it was going to end that way as the last lap flashed across the start finish board, but then the kart ahead made a slight mistake and got a bit sideways through turn 1, and Deven suddenly was pulled right up behind again. He wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him by, and he knew just what to do.
He timed it perfectly, following through the tight infield section up the hill and then getting a perfect exit out onto the back straight. He drafted his way up onto the back bumper and then pulled out to make the pass. It was going to be a battle of will, who was going to brake latest? Deven stuck his foot in and it was full send into the braking zone. He didn’t let his foot off the gas until the other driver was simply forced to concede or go flying off into the marbles. It was a brave and gutsy last lap move that he was able to pull off and gave him 9th position as he crossed the finish line and took the checkered flag.
The boy had done it. A really well earned and hard fought result bringing some much needed self confidence and happiness back to the team and driver. A really rewarding feeling and now the work that has to be done in the garage to get the kart back into proper fighting form can be completed during the week in preparation for The Gothenburg Grand Prix in just a few day’s time.
Grabko GP would like to thank ALL of its sponsors and partners, without whom we wouldn’t be able to compete at all:
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