Another week, another test session for Grabko Grand Prix!
This week concentration was put on trying out karts at Gokartcentralen that haven't been used yet by the team. Engineers arranged with track officials to try out karts 15 and 3 this time around.
On a day when the circuit and its karts had been subjected to an earlier layman LeMans event that had left both karts and track dirty and slippery, conditions were difficult, but the team had been encouraged by earlier test sessions during the week in which it saw new signing Erkin Bour set a new track record on the updated layout with a 35.526s lap.
The announce from the Championship Steering Group came down to the teams that the first round results of the Gokartcentralen Open GP Electric Gokart Championhip0 would be nullified, and that the restart of the series would be delayed 2 months in order to work out the technical problems with the power unit overheating issue.
Martin Svensson, Open GP President, and decorated racing driver in his own right, explained that it was a tough decision, but it meant that when the series did resume, it would be under proper racing conditions, which is the most important thing for everyone involved.
In the mean time, the team had a quiet test session in which Dan was present to continue data collection and performance development of the new track layout and driving characteristics of the new racing chassis specifications. He drove karts 6 and 16 in a two session test in which he set a personal best 36.716 lap on his 2nd run, despite the conditions being far from optimal.
In the weeks since the last testing session here, winter had set in and it was below freezing temperatures outside, making for slippery and colder track conditions in the climate controlled facility. Given this, Dan's times were encouraging, as the team has started to get to grips with the new chassis and the track begins to work in its new optimal racing line over time.
Afterwards, he was quietly satisfied with the day. "Yeah, we tried a few different things today, so I'm relatively happy with the times. With Erkin and Lilleman (Svensson) also providing us with valuable data now as well, its helped all of us, my own development as well. It feels like there were 3-4 tenths in it if I'd been here a week ago, before the weather turned, but of course we were busy winning the first round of the Gokartcenter Winter Le Mans Series!"
When asked about the Open GP Championship decision, he said, "No doubt about it, it was the right decision. They didn't have to do it, but they have shown their true colors as a proper motorsport series by doing this. All the drivers in the series agree and we are looking forward to getting started again in a couple of months!"
So another week in the life of a fledgling race team!
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MAIDEN VICTORY AS NEW DRIVERS SHINE
Grabko Grand Prix celebrated the recent drivers signings in style, putting in a professional performance that despite an adventurous final stint, saw the team winning round 1 of the Gokartcenter Winter LeMans Series with what turned out to be a more comfortable margin than expected.
Team race engineers laid out the planned strategy, but in order to be able to run plan A, the drivers needed to deliver pole position in qualifying. So the pressure was on for the new signings to live up to their billing.
The circuit itself is short, fast, and physically demanding, with the course record having stood for many years now at 24.04s. The start finish line is oddly situated so that it serves directly as the entrance to the apex of the high speed 180 degree turn 1 at the end of the short start/finish straight. Turn 2 then is just a slight junk to the right before the first of two hard braking zones at the turn 3 and 4 chicane complex, known by the drivers as the "pizza slice." Accelerating out through the high speed right hand combinations of turns 5, 6 and 7, powering through the slight left handed at turn 8, and then entering the second hard braking zone at the turn 9 left handed hairpin. Getting a good exit is key as carrying speed is all important at the final inverted apexed turn 10 hairpin that brings you back onto the front straight to do it all over again.
In a media brief released today from the team, Grabko Grand Prix made the major announcement that they had secured the services of Erkin Bour and Daniel Svensson away from EB Karting and Lilleman Racing, respectively.
Both championship winning drivers have been signed on one year deals, and the atmosphere in the team was absolutely buzzing after the announcement, which was made at the Gothenburg Gokartcenter in Torslanda.
Team Principal, Dan Grabko, had this to say to the gathered press, "We couldn't be more excited or more proud to announce our first team expansion in this way. Securing the services of drivers of this caliber just shows the ambition levels this team has. In Erkin and Daniel we've got two of the best karting talents in the region in the team. With these guys in racing seats, Grabko Grand Prix is looking to be a real force to reckon with in all the competitions we enter."
In the aftermath of the first round feature final race, Adde Motorsport submitted a protest to the race results, and after Championship stewards reviewed the data. It was found that kart 7's power unit, that had forced them to retire after 10 laps, had failed before Voric's joker lap incidents. The decision thus went in their favor, and the team was awarded 5th place, knocking Modin Motorsport, Grabko Grand Prix, and Haraldsson Autosport all down a position. It meant one less Championship point for the 3 affected teams and 3 more points for Adde. The decision was not protested by the affected teams, as upon review of the data all teams agreed it was conclusive.
So it was a focused Grabko Grand Prix that entered the paddock for this week's testing session.
Finally the moment the team have been preparing for and longing after all Summer long had come. It was time to kick off the 2016/17 Gokartcentralen Open GP Electric Gokart Championship, the Swedish West Coast's premier electric karting series!
A lot of controversy had blown up in the media in the weeks building up to this first round of the championship, with many of the teams having reacted negatively to the changes made to the circuit, the new adjusted completion format, and most prevalently, the driving characteristics of the new racing karts.
To their credit, the series leadership and circuit engineers had taken a lot of the commentary on board, and had worked exhaustively leading up to race day to remap the the power units to squeeze out as much top speed as possible within the limitations of the entire package. Racing drivers are a simple and single-minded breed, they don't want to hear excuses, be they valid or not, they just want performance, performance, performance!
It was a dark and stormy night...
But, unfortunately it wasn't stormy enough. Rain earlier in the day failed to last past early afternoon, a disappointment for most of the fans and about half the driver field, for which the prospect of wet race conditions was an appetizing one. They would have to settle for a couple of puddles at the end of the long front straight, leading into the entry of the flat out turn 1.
In the team's final pre-season outing before the start of the Gokartcentralen Open GP Electric Gokart Championship, Grabko Grand Prix made another guest entry in the Team 13 Gothenburg Gokartcenter Summer Cup, this time in the decisive 6th and last round of the 2016 series.
Continuing to develop their networking partnerships, the young team again travelled with top outfit EB Karting, who were fighting for a top 3 finish in the competition despite having missed the July round of the series.
The series officials had moved the time of the race up an hour, taking into account the rapidly decreasing daylight hours as Fall truly had arrived in western Sweden. So 4:30pm was set for the drivers meeting, with a scheduled 5:00pm start for the first session of qualifying.
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.
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.
Lidköping vid Vänern was the host for Grabko Grand Prix's latest preseason testing exercise, the Widell Driving Experience 10H LeMans Endurance Race, at the famous Lidköping Motorstadion Circuit, a recent staple on the Swedish National Championship calendar.
The team came late to the party, having only been given a chance to enter due to another team dropping out of the competition less than a week to the green flag. Team Principal Dan Grabko, never one to turn down an opportunity to give this fledgling team more experience in different competitions formats, jumped on the chance after learning of the opening and quickly sorted an entry. He struck a partnership with two young local talents, Erik Olsson and Viktor Sällsträm, as well as two former Directors of the Lidköping Karting Club, Pontus Rappéll and Patrik Fajersson. It was a strong combination of youthful enthusiasm and smooth experience, both needed in the long gruelling test of a 10 hour endurance event.