Our man Deven was coming off his best result of the season and the whole team were hoping to keep that momentum through to a stronger finish to the SKCC finale. But again, as has been the case most of the season, there was no prior experience at the track for team or driver, so everything would have to be learned on the fly, with only 2 free practice sessions to try to dial in the driving and setup before qualifying.
The first FP session went as expected, sitting near the back of the 29 kart field, getting a feel for the track. Things were more worrying on the chassis setup side than the driving side at this point. There was an audible difference as the karts came flying through the fast right handed turn 1. The Grabko GP machine was struggling to hold revs under the load, while karts further up the field had more freely revving motors.
Notes were taken, consultations made, and in between sessions, the necessary chassis and gearing adjustments were made to free up the load coming through the corners. This made a good difference and with the kart in better working order for the track, it was now all focus on the driving.
After FP2, it was race engineer and driver going through the data, finding as much as they could to work on in preparation for qualifying. Given the circumstances, it was a decent result. The team would qualify in 23rd after all was said and done, the best qualifying positions achieved in this championship for the feisty little rookie this season.
However, the race heats are a completely different animal, and with 29 karts lining up on the grid, full commitment is required. It was clear directly from the start of the first sprint heat that Deven still hadn’t quite ridden himself of the demons conjured up in the previous rounds at Malmö and Klippan. His start was best described as gun shy. Far too passively he tiptoed his way through the start, allowing those around him to take advantage, and after the first half lap he found himself running 3rd from the back. He then proceeded to run a fairly pedestrian race, showing clearly that he had more pace than those around him, but not willing to commit to any passing moves to continue on up the field.
It was time for the Team Principal to step in. Taking the young rookie off to the side to visit the Formula Nordic racing machine on display at the track , we don’t know what was said or how, but when the pair returned, there was a renewed glint of determination on the steely little face of a young racer again. We will probably never know what was said or how, but what we do know is that whatever it was, it worked.
Having put ourselves in the position we did going into the final it was always going to be hard to rectify it. Starting 27th is no easy task to drive yourself up from, especially on a track where the start is not going into a hard braking zone to allow for a lot of passing.
Nevertheless, it was a night and day performance. Right from the start it was clear that the Kid was going to race and not just drive around the track. He got off the line and fought for positions, jostling his way through the pack and making up 2 positions on the start right away, but then getting unlucky to have to make evasive maneuvers to avoid a spin the sharp left handed turn 4, and losing out one position again due to that.
Taking tighter and more aggressive lines at corner entry, he was immediately well over a half second faster than his previous best times, and was bearing down on the kart ahead. Now within a second of the front runner’s times, he showed what he could do with the equipment he has underneath him.
Unfortunately, to his frustration, even though he was able to catch up to the #23 ahead of him quite easily, it was much tougher to get by. This time, though, his inability to make the pass wasn’t due to lack of trying. Lap after lap he just couldn’t get the exit out of the key corners 6 and 12 leading up to the long back and front straights to make a pass stick in the braking zones, and thus it was that a frustrating race ensued, and showed just what could have been had we had heads right from the start of the day.
Crossing the line in 26th in the final was another step sideways instead of forward, and was a somewhat disappointing way to end the 2021 SKCC Series given the form we shown coming into the weekend.
Chief Race Engineer, Dan Grabko, told it like is was. “More than half of motor racing is psychological, and if you don’t have your head right, you’re not going to get anywhere. We had a weekend where we came to grips with the mechanical setup quite quickly, but the driver mental setup was a tougher nut to crack. We finally did that, but the damage had been done. All credit to Big D for salvaging what he could in the Feature, but the incremental moving up the grid needed to happen in qualifying and the sprint races, not the Final. There was more in the car and the driver today than what we showed, and that is the disappointing thing. Fair enough if you give it your all and come up short, but when you know for fact that you have left performance on the table, then it is just a bit draining. Based on the data, a top 20 finish was well within our grasp today and we didn’t go out there and take it.”
With the final rounds now coming for the KCV Series as well, it is well and truly a wrap to the season soon, and preparation for the 2022 Championships are already well underway. Coming up next on the race calendar is Round 3 of the KCV back in Gothenburg, and then Round 4 the weekend after that, in Skövde. Due to prior commitments the team will not be able to enter the final round in Lidköping.
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