Today was the day that the team got their first look at the new racing machines to be use in the upcoming Gokartcentralen Open GP Electric Karting Championship. The team arrived with Johan Windzer, Group Director at Ocean Group a main team sponsor and fellow motorsport enthusiast, so it was an exciting day for the team in many ways.
In an unfortunate turn of events, technical difficulties prevented the teams onboard camera from being used, so the first public onboard video from the team will have to wait until next week. This turned out to be only the first of the unexpected disappointments on the day, however. With a reference time set last week in the old karts of 36.132, the team was looking forward to being the first to break the 36 second barrier on the new track. It just wasn't to be.
With a reference time set last week in the old karts of 36.132, the team was looking forward to being the first to break the 36 second barrier on the new track. It just wasn't to be.
The team was assigned karts 4 and 14 for Dan and Johan respectively for the reconnaissance session, with the latter following Grabko out onto the track, looking to learn from the more experienced driver.
What followed over the radio was not the uninhibited praise that was expected. The brakes were awesome, the steering tight, and the chassis excellent. What held back unrestricted exclamations of glee were the acceleration and top speed characteristics of the new karts. It was quite obvious that they had been setup to be as close to equal to the older karts as possible, but it appears that circuit technicians had been overly cautious, and as a result, the entire package was openly more sluggish as a whole.
Dan came into the pits after the first session having only managed a 37.758, over 1.6 seconds off the previous week's reference time. Johan came in with a 40.968, not bad for his first go. In the first debriefing, the team discussed different lines that could be taken, different angles into and out of the new chicane complexes at turns 2 & 3 and 4 & 5, but the general feeling was one of confusion, as it was felt there was absolutely no way to find that much time out of the new machines, and that they were, with their current setup, simply slower than the older ones.
The second session had been pre-arranged as a race simulation, and it gave a chance for Dan to follow Johan around the track for a couple of laps before taking the lead and showing Johan a few tips on racing line and braking & accelerating points on the track. In the end, Johan improved over 1.8 seconds on his first session time, clocking in a 39.134 while Dan was only able to marginally improve his recon session time by just a few hundredths of a second, to 37.714, underlining the current limitation of the new karts.
In a special post test debrief together with circuit technicians, team engineers discussed their findings and views in what was considered a constructive exchange of thoughts and ideas.
Dan was ponderous at the press conference afterwards, "We were basically assured that the new karts would open up a little bit as they are broken in, and that when the new track has had a chance to get some rubber down on the racing lines it would be faster. Obviously that's true, and we'll probably see that 1 to 1.5 second decrease in lap times eventually from those factors, but in all honesty the track changes themselves should only affect lap times by less than second when all is said and done, and the karts themselves are the only other variable in that equation."
When asked if he was satisfied with the new karts, he said "I'd like to see the new machines dialed in a a bit more. I know they could be beasts, and the chassis, brakes, and steering are exceptional. They are just a bit too easy to drive at the moment. Mapping the engines for faster acceleration and allowing for a higher top speed would bring back that technical element that was so apparent with the previous karts. I know they are doing their best, and that they've honestly tried to make these karts as close to the old ones as possible. All credit to all the guys here, they've worked their butts off and created a great facility and great racing experience. I really enjoy the new track layout, I just wished they would have been a bit more aggressive with the new kart setup."
Grabko was then asked what it was that he felt could be changed. "A lot of the time today, it just felt like you were coasting around on a Sunday drive. The only thing missing in the entire equation is acceleration and top speed, and they have every opportunity to give us that, so I hope they do. It is conclusive enough that my time last week on the old kart 14 was over 1.6 seconds faster than I managed today on the new karts 4 and 11, and that was on an even more virgin track."
So in the end a day of mixed feelings as the team enjoyed the company of one of its main sponsors for the first time on track, and got its first impressions on the new racing machines for the upcoming Open GP Electric Gokart Championship.
Apologies for the technical difficulties with onboard camera. These have been fixed at the time of this writing and we will be back again next week with more track videos!
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