Grabko Grand Prix was going after its second 1-2 finish on the trot, looking to build on their success in the opening round of the Göteborg Gokartcenter Summer Cup Series.
It was another dry race, although rain throughout the beginning of the week had carried over into the morning of Wednesday race day, the sky cleared around lunch time and by the time the free practice session began at 5:30pm, the track had dried out completely, and was ready for rubbering in.
It needed it as well. Despite the dry track, conditions were not optimal for fast lap times. High winds made it hard to record decent lap times unless drivers worked together to draft each other through the long straights. The circuit was completely wiped clean of rubber as well, so the FP and Q1 sessions were as much rubbering in exercises as they were searches for competitive lap times.
The team was able to maximize its qualities in the adverse conditions though, With Daniel Svensson in kart 20 and Erkin Bour in kart 4 recording 57.90s and 57.92s respectively to lead the pack after Q1 by three tenths of a second over the rest field, with Dan Grabko slotting in 8th after Q1 with a glacially slow comparative time of 58.62s in kart 15, with Dan complaining of excessive brake fade over the radio throughout.
It was Jack Milder on an impressive 58.21s who was the closest challenger to the Grabko Grand Prix duo, while other top drivers like André Palm, Filip Persson, Pontus Carlbom, and Victor Osberg were languishing outside the top 10.
So Q2 would separate the men from the boys, with the feature final cutoff being 14th quickest in the 43 strong field, and all the pressure was on to make the feature final.
In the end it was Svensson who cemented the pole position for Grabko Grand Prix, in kart 6, improving 0.03s to 57.87s while round one winner Erkin had to settle for the second front row spot, unable to improve on his Q1 time in kart 3.
Behind that duo, things did get a little bit more exciting however. Victor Osberg showed his quality, the Axxon Racing man surging up to 3rd spot in kart 17 with a nice 58.12s best lap. Jack Milders 58.21 time stood up for 4th as he was unable to improve on that, while Kristoffer Dahl took full advantage of drawing the strong kart 2 and managed to put together a 58.27s for 5th. Joakim Johansson took home 6th on the grid in kart 11 with a 58.30s time, and 7th and 8th were split by just 0.01s, Mahras Neghabian edging it over Daniel Hofman on 58.35s and 58.36s respectively. Filip Persson and Robin Bandgren rounded out the top 10, with Rippe in 9th on 58.40s and Robin 10th with a 58.45 lap. Grabko Grand Prix man Dan Grabko just missed out on a second consecutive top 10 position by just a hundredth of a second, his 58.46 only good for 11th. Pontus Carlbom and André Palm filled out the final automatic feature race spots only 0.01s behind Grabko.
So, Grabko Grand Prix and Daniel Svensson took home their second straight pole position, with Erkin Bour giving the team its first front row lockout of the season. Dan Grabko will have been disappointed with his qualifying result, but would have a chance to make up for it in the feature race. Likewise, Palm wasn't impressed with his performance and would be looking to follow Dan up through field from the start. Winner of the B Qualifier, Joacim Kjellgren would round out the feature race grid, lining up opposite Palm in 14th spot.
Svensson, Bour and Grabko were allotted karts 2, 9, and 11, respectively, very good draws for the first two drivers, based on qualifying results, while kart 11 hadn't shown the same speed as in round one, but should provide a decent platform to move up during the race.
The stage was set, and it was time to go racing! Svensson and Bour got off to good starts, almost immediately able to gap the field through the first passage of the turn 3 right handed hairpin. Meanwhile, Grabko was able to make up 3 places at the same corner, heading into the left handed dogleg turn 4 in 8th spot. André Palm followed him through and was in 9th after the first lap.
Grabko took another spot on lap 3, getting a good run out of turn 7 on the back side of the track and making his move on Joacim Kjellgren under braking to the second hairpin, the 180 degree left handed turn 8, and making the move stick through the right handed quick double apexes of turns 9 and 10 out onto the long main straight. He was now 7th and making a run on the pair ahead of Kristoffer Dahl and Jack Milder, who were battling for 5th position, and had created a buffer for himself behind to Palm, who had yet to manage an overtake on Kjellgren.
From there, the race developed into 3 distinct groups. Grabko Grand Prix men Svensson and Bour were out front, with Victor Osberg and Joakim Johansson duking it out for the final podium position a few seconds behind. Dahl, Jack Milder, and Grabko made up the 3rd group going after 5th position another couple of seconds back, with the rest behind in a large gaggle of karts trying to join up with mid pack.
Unfortunately for Mahras Karting RT, Neghabian was shunted off track early and would be playing catchup from the rear of the field for the remainder of the race, while Carlbom, Persson, Hofmann, and Robin Bandgren failed to make up ground due to their back of the field battling with one another.
Up at the front it was a fascinating chess match battle of wits between Svensson and Bour, the Grabko Grand Prix men satisfied with the lead they had built after 6 laps of the 10 lap final, and now were feeling each other out for the chance to pounce and bring home victory for themselves going into the final 3rd of the race.
Equally exciting was the duel between Osberg and Johansson, Victor showing his intelligent race craft to keep Joakim in check going into the final laps where all would be decided.
Both Kjellgren and Palm were able to keep within striking distance of the pack of 3 ahead, and when André finally was able to make a pass on Joacim in lap 6, he closed up on Grabko, dragging Kjellgren along with him. Mysteriously, Dan's pace had been slowly fading after lap 4 and he was losing contact with Dahl and Milder tenth by tenth in the battle for 5th. After losing the advantage of the draft to Jack Milder, Grabko was vulnerable prey to the predatory Palm.
On the penultimate lap 9, Dan left his braking too late and missed the apex badly at the turn 8 hairpin, resulting in Palm getting right up on his rear bumper. Grabko obviously felt the pressure of having a driver like Palm behind, because he made the same mistake again in the race down to the turn 3 right handed hairpin, missing the apex by almost a meter and barely managing to keep his kart pointing the right direction. Palm was immediately alongside, taking up the inside line for the off camber turn 4 sweeping by on the curbing. Dan tried to come back getting a better exit out of that corner, but André was having none of it, the experienced man an expert of the defensive line on his home track, and he gave no room for Grabko to make a move for the remaining lap, beating Dan to the line for 7th spot by 0.4s in the end, leaving Grabko to rue his 8th position finish.
Kjellgren didn't quite have he pace to try and take advantage of the two battling ahead and came home 9th, with the rest of the field 4 seconds behind him, spread out in half second intervals, Carlbom 10th followed by Persson, Hofmann, Robin Bandgren, and Neghabian pulling the rear of the pack back to within 2s after his first lap incident.
Kristoffer Dahl and Jack Milder really upped their pace in the final stint of the race, lapping 3 tenths of a second faster than Victor and Joakim ahead, and they came within half a second of joining the fight for the final podium spot as they took the checkered flag, probably wishing they had 1-2 more laps to mix it up with those two ahead.
It was a product of the tight fight between Osberg and Johansson that allowed them in, but Victor is a crafty racer, and even though Johansson kept hi, under pressure, he couldn't find a way past the Axxon Racing veteran, and ended up settling for 4th spot with only 0.14 seconds in it.
That was the exact difference that became the margin of victory between the top two Grabko Grand Prix duo ahead as well. Svensson had led the whole race, with Bour doing all he could to find a weakness in Daniel's formidable arsenal of driving prowess. When he did make his move, it was a classic, going into turn 7 he lined up the move and found a way to make it stick slipping down the inside, and taking Svensson by surprise. For the second race running, it was a late passing move that earned Erkin the victory over his teammate, who found himself in a drag race to the checkered flag in almost an exact replay of the round one finale.
Another exciting race full of action and suspense, tight clean racing, and excellent entertainment on offer! Grabko Grand Prix recorded its 2nd consecutive 1-2 finish, and took commanding leads in both the drivers and team championships. Naturally the team was buoyant after the podium ceremony.
"Another great battle with a top racer who I am fortunate enough to call my teammate. I wasn't sure I could do it this time around, Daniel is in great form at the moment, and he was driving extremely well. I was fortunate I could make my move stick long enough to get into a good defensive position, and then just hoped I could hold on," said Erkin.
He continued, "Really happy for that win. with the other results going my way, I've opened up some space between myself and some other key title contenders, and anther 1-2 is obviously outstanding for the team. Couldn't have asked for a better start to the series."
Svensson was satisfied overall, but maybe had a missed opportunity for the win, saying, "Man, another close one! when he took me up at Esab (turn 7) with just a couple (laps) to go, I really thought I had a good chance to come back at him (Bour). But he was just quick enough in all the right places, I didn't have time to feel him out for a move, even though I was quicker on the straights. Good racing, and good fun, but I would have loved to have been on that top step today. But another great result for the team, another 1-2 is something we're all proud of!"
Dan had mixed feelings, "From a team owner perspective, I am ecstatic with our 2nd 1-2 of the championship in as many attempts. Erkin and Daniel really showed their class today, two of the very best in the region at this level, and Grabko Grand Prix is proud to have them, big congratulations again from the whole team for a couple of great drives. It puts us in a great position for the team championship."
He continued, "From a driver perspective, I've got to be disappointed with how my own race panned out. I started out strongly, but couldn't keep the pace up through the whole race, and then two mistakes at two hairpins in a row cost me a position. It would have been really satisfying to beat Palm, but he's a crafty racer and this is his home track. I gave him an inch and he took a mile, full credit to him! We'll have to take a look at the video and the data to see what we can work on next time around."
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