You’re all so adventurous!
I will not chatter too much now, except to say the wiki page is pretty much done, so head over and have a look at everything you could possibly need to know about Life in the Fast Lane [link defunct]. Don’t go yet, though, we’ve got a chapter to get through.
The dry tyres were on, and Mitch’s car was lowered to the ground. He could see the mechanics from the team in front eyeing his car warily.
“We’ll see,” he muttered.
It felt like an eternity, but in reality, just sixty seconds ticked by before there was a noticeable change in conditions. The rain was easing, and the sun was even struggling to come out.
Mitch felt adrenaline surging through his veins. “Now?” he asked.
“One more minute,” Pierre instructed.
Mitch put his foot down, and the wheels spun underneath him.
“Carefully!” Pierre warned. “The pitlane is worse than the track.”
Taking it a bit more gingerly, Mitch found his way to the pit exit, increased his speed and joined the track proper. His outlap was slow, as he got a feel for where the grip levels were, and then he was approaching the start line.
Melissa stood in the garage, pressing her headphones closer to her ears. “He’s crazy,” she breathed. The big screen in front of her showed Mason crossing the line for a provisional pole position, and the guys around her cheered.
In her pocket, Melissa crossed her fingers.
Mitch knew he was a few tenths up already, and he’d only completed a quarter of a lap. He was fighting the wheel constantly, but it was a battle he was winning and the car was staying on the racing line. Just. Across the first timing line.
“You’re up,” Pierre said, adding nothing else so as not to distract him.
Round the next corner, Mitch hit a wet spot of tarmac, and the car jinked away from him. He wrestled the steering wheel,finally getting back on course. It seemed to take forever, and all Mitch could feel was his pulse pounding in his ears.
Sector two complete. A tenth down.
“Come on, come on,” he chanted to himself.
It was drier now. Three more corners. Plenty of grip. One more. The line.
“Poleeeeeeee,” Pierre yelled. “By half a second! Good call, Mitch. You did it.”
“I knew it!” Mitch pumped the air with his fist.
“Careful coming in, it’s still slippery down here.”
Mason was waiting for him in the pitlane, his car sitting neatly in the number two slot. Mitch pulled to a halt, climbed out and raised his arms in the air. The crowd cheered.
“Your first pole,” Mason said, pulling his teammate into a brief hug. “Now tell me there was no luck involved there.”
Mitch waited until they had gone through the post-qualifying rituals before replying. The pair made their way towards the press room. “No luck, Mason, I made the right call. That’s skill.”
“Ah,” Mason laughed. “And that keyring has always been fixed to your fireproofs, right?”
Mitch opened his mouth to reply, but instead of a witty retort, he just shook his head.
Thankfully, by the time race day dawned, the rain had ceased and the sun was shining brightly. The track was nice and dry, and there would be no need for any stressful tyre strategy calls. No weather related ones, anyway.
Mitch had barely slept, excited for all the promise his first pole position held. Now, waiting on the grid, he had time to hydrate and to focus.
Mason approached him, a towel draped around his neck. “Nervous?” he asked.
“Don’t forget the strategy,” Mason said. “Just because you’re out in front, you’ve got to act like you’re still fighting for the lead.”
As his teammate continued to dispense advice, Mitch spotted a camera crew hurrying towards them.
“The gridwalkers are coming,” he said.
“Oh jeez,” Mason turned away. “Last time I talked to them I got a puncture.”
Mitch laughed. “You can’t blame the media for your tyre failures. Why are you so superstitious this year?”
Mason just smiled and slipped away, replaced by Pierre who clutched a clipboard of instructions to discuss.
“Can we have a word, Mitch? Live TV?” A microphone was placed in front of him.
Mitch glanced from the camera to Pierre.
Will he participate in the gridwalk?