I was secretly hoping for a repeat of the unanimous vote achievement, but this one was not quite so straight forward.
A couple of people are concerned for Mitch’s welfare, but most want to see him back behind the wheel.
“I’m in!” Mitch yelled, bursting back into the motorhome with glee. He stopped abruptly, when he realised a group of fans were being shown around. Melissa hurried over to him, grabbed at his arm and pulled him out of the room.
“Nice work,” Melissa shook her head at him.
“Well, they’ve got a scoop,” Mitch offered. “You’re always telling me I should be more open with the fans.”
“You make me out to be such a nag,” Melissa sighed.
“Well…” he tailed off. “You’re not even pleased for me now!”
“Of course I am. I told you to come straight to me, didn’t I? I’m just busy.”
Melissa turned and went back through to rejoin the group. Mitch pulled a face as the door banged shut.
In the garage, Pierre stood with him, going over the notes from Sandro’s two sessions. “You’ve got to try the soft tyre,” he said. “It’s burning out too quickly, and we need to figure out why.”
“It’ll be great for qualifying though, a guaranteed pole,” Mitch laughed.
“Qualifying is just one bit,” Pierre said, pushing Mitch’s helmet towards him.
As Mitch prepared himself, he spotted Mason walking across the garage towards him.
“You’re driving then,” Mason said, an eyebrow raised.
“No thanks to you,” Mitch muttered.
“It’s nothing to do with me. It was your head that needed testing.” A small smile played on Mason’s lips. “From the amount of people you’ve aggravated today, it probably still does.”
“It’s not my fault that everyone is being so frustrating.”
“Indeed.” Mason eyed him carefully, then turned away and was soon climbing into his own car.
Mitch was fighting the wheel as the car continually tried to resist his control.
“This is madness,” Mitch yelled over the radio. “What has Diaz done to my car?”
“It’s not Sandro, it’s the tyres. It’s hotter than expected.”
“I’m coming in.”
Mitch slowed his pace, and relaxed his grip on the steering wheel. The car still slid around underneath him, but it was easier to keep it in a straight line at the slower speed. As he rounded a corner, Mitch ran wide to keep off the racing line, and he glanced in his mirrors.
To his right, he saw a flash of colour coming towards him, and he panicked, jerking the car further onto the dirty side of the track. Images of the previous race weekend came flooding back to him. He could almost feel the thud of impact as carbon fibre met carbon fibre at top speed. The helpless feeling as his car skidded unnaturally sideways, and the sensation of pressing at pedals that made no difference at all. Then it was a blank.
Mitch blinked back into reality, finding that barely a split second had passed. He watched as the blur of colour in his mirrors became a moving object at his side and then it was past. He sighed. It wasn’t even Leroy, but Chellirallo in the mid-pace Tanner-Track car. He watched as the car disappeared out of sight.
“Get a grip,” Mitch chastised himself, putting his foot to the floor again.
There was a pause, and then a crackle of the radio: “Better grip?” Pierre asked. “Please repeat?”
Mitch couldn’t help but chuckle.
“It’s just not working,” he banged a fist against the side of the car. He had climbed out to get a better look at the figures, but Pierre couldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear.
“Perhaps another run will be better,” the engineer offered.
“I doubt it,” Mitch said, “this car might as well be scrapped.”
“We’ll change the tyres and get back to the baseline,” Pierre said.
“There’s no point. Let’s finish early. Practice is going nowhere. Better to wait for qualifying and hope things improve.”
“There’s still half the session left. We can fix this. You can’t rely on hope.”
Mitch shook his head.
Will he give up on practice and wait it out?