Here we are with part four of our story, a day later than expected. Sorry about that, there was podcasting to be done. So, how did the vote go for part three? I was quite surprised with the result:
I thought perhaps the voting would be more adventurous, this is fiction after all and anything can happen! It seems as though reality was more convincing though, and we all know overtaking is nigh on impossible. Instead, Mitch has been instructed to pit early.
“Fine,” Mitch snapped, ending the communication. On his next lap, he slowed to enter the pitlane, and pulled up outside his garage. The mechanics worked quickly and efficiently, refuelling the car, changing the tyres, and sending him on his way again.
Mitch exited the pitlane and rejoined the racetrack in completely clear air. He couldn’t see a car in either direction.
“Now put your foot down,” Bob said in his ear.
Mitch did as instructed, posting some qualifying-worthy laps as he made the most of this second stint opportunity. The scenery rushed by, but Mitch was focusing only on the rhythm of the car. Foot down on the straights, breathe. Braking marker, hold it, and lift. Turn, foot down. Go. After a couple of laps, he felt like he could have navigated the circuit with his eyes closed, and for a moment he let his mind wander into the possibilities that would result from such a foolish move.
“You’re catching traffic,” Bob snapped him from his reverie. “But Mason is in. The moment of truth.”
Mitch felt that familiar rush, the feeling of adrenalin pumping through his veins. He had done everything he could, taken Bob’s advice and pushed the car as fast as it, and he, could possibly go. Now it came down to the Mortimer pit crew.
“He’s stopped,” Bob reported. “Fuel goes in. Tyres off. Fresh tyres on. Softs. He’s pushing for the finish. Fuel is out and he’s off again. Watch out Mitch, he’s all yours now.”
Mitch had two more corners to make, and as he reached the final turn, he spotted a flash of movement to his right. Then he was at the pit exit, and so was Mason. The Mortimer car came out directly beside the Shuttleworth and it was simply a battle of wills to the next corner. Mitch was determined not to give this up, and without glancing at Mason, he took the line as he would have on any of the previous laps.
Whether it was cold tyres, heavy fuel, or a simple moment of defeat, Mitch didn’t know, but he blinked twice, and realised the corner was his. Mason Mortimer was in his rear view mirror, and that placed himself, John Mitchell, third.
“Gooooooo,” Bob yelled on the radio, and Mitch went.
The radio crackled into silence when Mitch entered his final lap. Superstition at Shuttleworth dictated that neither driver nor engineer spoke from the moment the last lap began until the chequered flag was waved. Mitch didn’t know this, but he couldn’t have uttered a word even if he wanted to. His entire body had gone numb with anticipation, and all he could hear was the roaring of the engine, accompanied by the occasional wash of cheer from the crowd.
Three corners. Two corners. The final turn. The white line. The chequered flag.
Then, turn one again. Was it really over? Mitch felt as though he was in a dream. The crowd were on their feet.
“You did it, boy!” Bob was ecstatic, but professionalism won through, and he rattled off the list of things for Mitch to remember on the in lap. Bruno slowed right down to veer towards his teammate, and the pair of them circled the track together, waving at the fans.
They pulled into the pitlane, stopping in the space cordoned off for the podium finishers. “I’m a podium finisher!” Mitch said to himself, as he climbed out of the car, making the necessary adjustments to ensure they weighed in okay.
Bruno grabbed him into a hug, and they climbed the stairs to the podium. Hats. Watches. Bottle of water.
First and third for Shuttleworth Racing. This was a good day.
Mitch sat in the airport, waiting for his flight to be called, and reliving the last few hours in his head. From the heights of the podium, they had quickly been brought back down to earth with a debrief. Mitch had been chastised for questioning the switch in strategy, but also praised in his ability to pull it off. Bruno got nothing but glory for his win – the first for Shuttleworth in a couple of years.
They had posed for the team shot – pit board spelling out their names and positions, and of course, more champagne. Now a late flight home before a back-to-back.
Mitch yawned and stretched. He couldn’t wait to get on the plane for a nap. They still had about twenty minutes to spare. Looking round he saw Bruno leaning against a wall, engrossed in his phone. Rex Shuttleworth was sitting on one of the plush chairs, a laptop open in front of him. Rex was waiting for his own plane, but Bob had told Mitch that their boss enjoyed the comforting bustle of the regular waiting areas. Mitch blinked in surprise when he spotted Mason Mortimer a short distance away, sipping a cup of coffee at one of the cafe tables.
What should Mitch do to pass the time?