The team was back in Sweden and the excellent Gokartcentralen for the first official testing session of the 2016/17 season. Upon arrival a pre-session meeting with track officials updated the team on developments over the summer. There had been a delay at the manufacturer with the new improved gear boxes and electric motors of the new racing karts, so the delivery had been delayed by 4 weeks. The new date has now been preliminarily set at for the middle of September. In addition to this, the first round of the championship was now in danger of being cancelled if the new machines were not received in time. Series Directors promised to keep all the teams updated on the constantly developing situation.
Although the news was obviously disappointing, it did allow team driver Dan Grabko a chance to revisit one of his old favorites for the seasons first test. Kart 14 has great throttle response and top speed as well as a very balanced and predictable chassis and brake pedal feel.
Unfortunately, he was caught out in the beginning by how good the karts actually were after his off season training program in San Diego. It took him the better part of the first reconnaissance run to get to grips with the truly first class facility that is Gokartcentralen. Despite this, the intrepid driver did manage a 35.908 near the end of the run, so didn't completely embarrass himself.
After a lengthy debrief and discussion with the team and track personnel as well as allowing enough time for a full recharge of kart 14, the team decided to go back out for a race simulation to finish the inaugural test of the season.
Dan got right down to it this time around, almost immediately bettering his best recon run time by two tenths of a second. After that it was going through simulation exercises, practicing pushing laps vs chasing laps, and running alternative line overtaking drills down the back and front straights as well as the final hairpin complex, rounding off the run with some hard pushing hot laps, where Dan managed a quick time of 35.575 on the last lap of the session.
Overall an encouraging and productive start to the season's testing program. Dan had this to say in the press conference afterwards, "That was really fun today! It is great to be back here, you really appreciate what a top class operation they've got here at Gokartcentralen. I can confidently say that you'd be hard pressed to find any better racing machines in this class of racing anywhere else, and I'm not talking just Sweden, either. I found that out over the summer. Best bunch of facility personnel you'll ever find as well. These guys are great. It is a privilege to be able to race here, and I can't wait for the season to get started."
Grabko was then asked what he thought about the new kart situation and how it might affect the championship. "Well, needless to say we as a team are disappointed, as we'd like to get as much seat time as we can in the new machines before the first round of the championship, but you can't really do much about that, it is the same for everyone. Also, on a personal level, it gave me a chance to drive these great karts again. We'll have to play it by ear. With the series likely moving to the last week of the month this time around, it does allow the team to look more closely at the Gothenburg Gokartcenter's Summer Cup, which still has two rounds left to go. I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but I'm pretty sure we'll be taking part in both final rounds of that, so if the Open GP does in fact get effected by the delay with the new karts, the team will still have something to look forward to for September."
So there you have it! First test of the season in the bag! Follow us for all the fun and excitement as the 2016/17 season unfolds, it is going to be a wild ride, and we would love to share it with you - support #GrassRootsRacing, support Grabko Grand Prix!
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