Life in the Fast Lane III - Part 10
Published February 1, 2011
Sincere apologies for the delay in getting this final part up, I wasn’t trying to drag out the ending in a reality show results style, honest. Here’s how the last voting of this series went:
Sometimes we like to play it safe, sometimes we like to take a risk.
Mitch watched as both the cars in front of him peeled off the racing line. In his mirrors, he saw Bruno leaving it late, but then the Shuttleworth also jinked right and was heading towards the pit lane.
“Just me then?” he asked Pierre, who replied in the affirmative.
Mitch closed up behind the safety car and slowed his pace. The silver Mercedes was at it’s limit but Mitch still felt it was going far too slowly. He weaved across the track, desperate to keep some heat in his tyres. He was the only front runner who had avoided the pitlane, but a few of the backmarkers closed up behind him.
They continued to lap until the debris was cleared and the Safety Car was called in. Mitch studied the lights on top of the Mercedes hard.
“Wait for the restart, wait for the restart,” Pierre chanted in his ear.
Before he knew it, the way ahead was clear, and Mitch jammed his foot down. The Mortimer jumped away from the slower cars behind him, and he was off down the home straight again.
“Keep your head,” Pierre advised, as Mitch took the first two corners gingerly. “Good,” the engineer continued. “You’re leading. But the hard work starts now. Build the gap. That’s all you can do.”
Although Pierre couldn’t see him, Mitch found himself nodding. He was ready for the challenge.
Lap after lap.
Everything in sequence. Shift here, brake, accelerate. Watch for the kerbing, mind the dip. Remember that lone piece of debris. Avoid it. Brake. Accelerate. Shift. Watch the barrier. Hit the earlier brake marker here. Brake. Shift. Accelerate. Pit board.
“In this lap.”
The instruction rang in his ear, and Mitch knew this was it. Make or break. Now they’d know if he had done enough. Pierre had been giving him updates as the lap count climbed, keeping tabs on where his nearest competitors were. All Mitch knew was that it was going to be close.
He eased across track to the pitlane entrance, slowed and hit the white line exactly on pace. He cruised through the pit lane, aware that most of the crews were tucked away in their garages, watching the action on big screens. Their part of the weekend was done and it was out of their hands.
For Mitch’s crew, the next thirty seconds were crucial.
Mitch pulled to a halt, felt himself hoisted up on the jacks, and around him became a blur of dark blue material. Lollipop down, old tyres off, fresh tyres on, lollipop over, up, and gone.
Having spent so long on the old rubber, Mitch found the cold tyres hard to manage, and as he pulled back out of the pit box, the car slid underneath him. He kept control, kept it pointing where it should go, and continued onwards.
Past the Shuttleworth garage and to the exit, Mitch crossed the white line, and put his foot down. Careful not to cross back too early, he rounded out onto the track and found himself side by side with Mason. They were down to the first corner together.
In his head, Mitch knew that Mason should have the advantage. Warmer tyres, the momentum was with him.
He wasn’t giving up though. He kept his foot down, he forced himself back into the zone that his final pit stop had jerked him out of.
They touched wheels. Mitch held his breath.
Mason was too wide. He couldn’t hold the corner, Mitch had it. He had it.
“I’ve got it!” Mitch yelled, and pulled away. He let out the breath, and glanced in his mirrors.
Mason had settled in behind him.
“YEAAAAAGHHHHH!” Mitch yelled, leaping from the seat, onto the nose of the car. The crowd around him exploded into cheers, flash bulbs went off, people were calling his name. Mitch jumped down, walking straight over to Mason’s car. His teammate was just climbing out, fixing his steering wheel back in place.
When Mason straightened up, he reached out and pulled Mitch into a hug. An official in a blue shirt tugged at their sleeves, ushering them through to the weighing room.
Mitch yanked off his helmet and gloves. “We did it!” he yelled to Pierre, grabbing the engineer into a hug.
Pierre extricated himself from his grasp. “Enough hugging,” he laughed. “You have a trophy to go get.”
Mitch’s beaming smile loomed into view. He was shaking the champagne vigorously, and then the image paused.
“Come on,” Mitch said, “do we have to see this again?”
“It’s the best bit!” Mason laughed snatching the remote from him. He pressed play, and the three of them watched as Mitch moved towards the railings to shower the crowd with celebratory champagne. Unfortunately, he stood too near the edge, and as he shook the bottle, it smashed onto the bar, sending the majority of the glass to the floor of the podium in pieces. Mitch was left clutching just a bottle top and neck, his hand dripping with champagne.
He smiled, sheepishly put down the jagged piece of glass, and waved.
“Classic!” Mason hit pause and rewind, tears falling from his eyes as he laughed.
“Okay, enough,” Melissa said, stifling her own giggles. She rescued the remote and hit the off button. “Sorry,” she said to Mitch.
“You can’t complain, boy,” Mason said, sobering up a little. “You won, didn’t you? Finally your luck has turned.”
“It wasn’t luck,” Mitch said, smiling. “I don’t believe in that stuff. It wasn’t luck, it was you guys, and your support.”
There was an appreciative pause, then Mason cracked up again. “That’s good,” he laughed, “because I dread to think what bad luck a broken champagne bottle is worth. Seven years?”