The team took part in a special one off, behind-closed-doors race simulation test as Gokartcentralen ramped up their preparations for the relaunch of the Open GP Electric Karting Championship, Sweden's premier electric karting series.
The goal was to collect as much data under proper race event conditions as possible and again it was Jonas Svanberg of Hesus Autosport who partnered with facility officials to coordinate the invitational field, full of familiar faces and a bit of nostalgia as well!
All three Grabko Grand Prix drivers were back in action for the first time since their National Championship appearances, in a full 18 driver field that beyond Bour, Svensson and Grabko included former fan favourite and top-ranked drivers such as Alonso and Koskinen, as well as newer faces, such as the quick Johan "Dassmeister" Templin, Gokartcentralen's own test driver, and Mattias Horrdin, back in action at Gokartcentralen after a hernia operation left him out of the greater part of last season's championship.
After two qualifying sessions it was clear that the karts were back up to racing trim in a big way, and all the hard work done by the Gokartcentralen mechanics and engineers to get things right was really paying off. Times plummeted through the sessions, as the track was rubbered in, and in the end it was a familiar face leading the charge.
It was Erkin Bour for Grabko Grand Prix taking the poll, but only by 0.039s as Daniel Svensson was hot on his heels, the team’s all-star duo duking it out on the front row with 34.503s and 34.542s best times respectively.
The circuit's own in-house data collector, Templin, took home the first of the 2nd row spots another tenth back with a 34.645s lap beside Mattias Horrdin, who beat out the third Grabko Grand Prix man, Dan Grabko, by just eleven thousands of a second for 4th, the two drivers putting in 34.886s and 34.897s laps, respectively.
Hesus Autosport's Svanberg filled out the 3rd row in 6th after setting a best time of 34.955, the last of the field to manage a sub 35s lap. Former champion Lennie “Alonso” Sandberg, in his debut on the new track layout, found an impressive 35.082s time, earning him a spot on the inside of row four in 7th. Rounding out the feature final was Mahras Neghabian, who has shown real improvement since his debut a year ago, and he showed real pace with a 35.144 lap time lining him up on Alonso's left flank in 8th.
Joining them in the field was Filip "Rippe" Persson, who showed his well known talents and race craft to win the B-final race, ahead of the likes of drivers such as the great Koskinen, which earned him a birth in the feature final, lining up in 9th, just behind Alonso.
It was a fun one!
With no pressure of a championship to compete for on their shoulders, the drivers really went for it. Erkin controlled the race from start to finish, executing two excellent joker laps and a solid race, including a new track record, not giving anyone a chance to get close enough to worry him.
Grabko Grand Prix man Daniel Svensson and Johan Templin, Gokartcentralen's test mule, had a much closer battle for 2nd spot with “Dassmeister” just edging it, coming out ahead in the final joker lap exchanges on lap 10 and defending his position well to the checkered flag.
Alonso was the big mover of the race, starting in 7th and acing his race, passing Horrdin, who took an alternate strategy and completed his joker laps by lap 4, as well as Svanberg, who also took his first joker lap on lap 2. He then took his two joker laps like a champion to get past Grabko into 4th position, which he held onto despite a late charge by Dan, who left it just too late to catch him and make a race of it.
It was Dan Grabko in 5th then, who despite two decent joker laps came out right on the bumper of Jonas Svanberg on lap 7, but bided his time and set the Hesus Autosport man up for an overtaking manoeuvre on lap 10, exiting out of the final chicane in sector 3, getting a good run on him out onto the start finish straight, making the move stick through the tight sector 1, and then pulling away to secure the spot on the back straight, leaving Jonas to settle for his 6th spot starting position.
Horrdin caught Svanberg in the closing laps of the race after getting back past Rippe on his final joker lap on lap 12 to take back 7th spot, but The Hesus Autosport driver came out just in front of him, and is famous for his aggressive defending. Unlike Grabko before him, Mattias couldn't find a way through and had to settle for 7th.
Rippe had made up a place in the joker lap exchanges, finding himself ahead of Horrdin early on, but succumbed as the final joker laps played out and he finished where he started, in 8th, while Mahras competed well, but like Horrdin, found his early joker lap strategy backfiring on him, and he just couldn't get close enough to Rippe ahead to challenge him, bringing up the rear in 9th.
It was agreed by the entire field that the racing was very good, and while there is still a bit of work needed to be done to even out the karts on the chassis side, the power unit and drive systems were universally praised by all. It was a good test of the machinery, and the track's kart engineers will be very happy not only with the data collected, but also the performance, and above all, the endurance of the racing machines.
Up next is the first round of the Gokartcenter Summer Cup Series!
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