After the excitement of the 10 hour LeMans race in Lidköping the previous week, the team was back at its home circuit, Gothenburg's own Gokartcentralen, to concentrate on preparations for the upcoming Open GP Electric Gokart Championship.
The 3rd test of the preseason buildup was an especially tantalizing one, because it saw the new 2016/17 track layout revealed for the first time! Circuit engineers were hard at work preparing the new racing machines for the upcoming season, with venue owner Martin Svensson and chief engineer Viktor Osberg having taken delivery of the new karts only hours previous, and working around the clock to get them ready for action.
The new track layout had been finalized only 24 hours earlier, the biggest changes coming in the first half of the lap, before the back straight. The approach to turn 2 hasd been shortened considerably, creating a much more technically challenging chicane box combination for turns 2 and 3, and an entirely new turn 4 and 5 combination set up a mirror image chicane complex of this before opening up into a wide exit out onto the long back straight. The slight right hand dogleg turn 6 approach into the sharp right hand turn 7 was unchanged, exiting onto the slippery concrete, as was the turn 8 exit out of this section. The fast turn 8 and 9 combination was also left untouched, but the crucial and technical turn 10 had also been shortened a couple of meters, creating a new dynamic for the turn 10 and 11 chicane combination that exits out onto the 2nd slippery concrete section and into the dual apex final turn 12 and back onto the front start/finish straight. The joker lap entry has also been made much tighter as a consequence, while at the same time a physically shorter distance, making it imperative to get a good entrance to make decent times here. The exit back onto the main circuit is also much tighter now, so there will be exciting and dramatic exits from this area as drivers rejoin the main circuit during feature races.
The new layout creates an even more technically rigorous experience for the drivers, and is estimated to increase lap times by about 0.5 to 0.7 seconds based on team engineer estimates. It will catch a lot of teams out, especially on their first outings, as the new turn 2 complex comes up so much earlier. Drivers don't have enough time to check the live timing screens as they pass the start/finish line or they will be too late into braking for this first difficult section, so will have to rely mouth more heavily on team communications during qualifying sessions and to keep an eye on gap intervals during racing conditions.
It meant that today's sessions would be all about getting to know the new layout, and seeing just how much lap times would be affected by the new additions. For Grabko Grand Prix the first session was almost like a comedy of errors, as race driver Dan was caught out time after time in the first sector.
Ironic laughter became the norm during the first session as Grabko found himself missing apexes and struggling with grip throughout the new virgin first sector of track. Even so, a time of 36.467 was recorded near the end of that first reconnaissance session and when the team went out for its second run, the mood was more focused.
In the end Dan managed a 36.132 for the team on the second session. Given the squirrelly track, which was very slippery, especially out of turn 5 where a whole section of previously unused and completely virgin track was now the main exit of probably the 2nd most crucial turn exit of the new layout, the team estimated that the was at least 0.5 seconds to be gained after a few more sessions and some more rubbering in of the track at the new corners.
So in the end a moment of triumph for the team, as Grabko temporarily tops the timing lists of the new track layout, but it won't be long until the Championship's other heavy hitters have their go and the team can see how competitive it will truly be in the upcoming season.
Stay tuned for more as the team tries out the new racing machines next week on the new track layout!
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