CHAPTER TWO: Rally vs track!
Both racers approached each other, and shook their hands. Even though there was a clear sense of sportsmanship between the two, they stared at each other for a second, as if they were trying to analyze their opponent.
“Name’s Katsumi Saito.” - Said the young woman. She waited for his rival to reply, which he did after a few seconds trying to comprehend how touge racing worked. “Name’s Matt Sierra”. - Replied the man.
“Alright, you two get back to the car. We’re gonna start the countdown!”. As the organizer yelled this, both racers got into their cars and prepared to launch.
“Nine, eight…!” - As the organizer counted down to zero, the racers that were not going to take part in this race looked closely at both drivers, and their cars. Their machines looked like they were ready to battle in the downhill. Both engines growled and rumbled as their drivers revved the engines to launch as hard as possible. “Five, four…!” - Both racers took a last glance at each other, as if they were trying to intimidate each other. They then put all of their attention to the road. Race was about to start. People claimed they had never seen such an exciting start to a race.
“One…GO!”. As the organizer said this, Matt let off the clutch at the same time Katsumi pressed the upshift paddle.
Both cars launched like missiles. However, the double clutch transmission on Katsumi’s 260GT gave her the upper hand. She overtook Matt and started braking to take the first corner. They were neck to neck when they got there, however, and Matt refused to fall behind.
Both of them took the corner fairly fast. Second corner was not different: after the medium speed left, the racers approached a slightly sharper right. Both Katsumi and Matt braked as late as they could without risking getting in too fast or locking the wheels. They took the corner flawlessly, though in a different fashion: Katsumi powerslid her 260GT while Matt gripped the road as much as he could.
Matt then realized he was falling behind in the straights. His lightweight Marciel 124 wasn’t as powerful as the 260GT, and even though the difference is not as noticeable in the downhill, he was definitely struggling to keep up.
They approached the first hairpin. Both knew exactly what to do: Katsumi approached the hairpin, drifting her way through the fastest line. Matt, on the other hand, heel-toed as he approached the corner and decided to pull the handbrake to force the car to slide. He pulled the drift off successfully, meaning he was back in action.
Even though she was doing her best, Katsumi couldn’t get the Marciel out of her rear-view mirrors. She started feeling pressured by the rally driver, but wasn’t going to give up as easily. The next straight was long enough to leave the 124 behind, and she was going in for the kill. As soon as she got out of the corner and stabilized her car, she floored the throttle and started leaving the Marciel behind.
“Dammit” - thought Matt, who was starting to struggle. “She’s too fast in the straights. I won’t be able to keep up like this”. By the time they had approached the second hairpin, the gap between the two was noticeably larger.
Katsumi started braking to enter the haipin, but then she realized something mid-corner: she hadn’t braked enough. She had to brake again and fight the oversteer her mistake had induced. Matt on the other hand, took the corner handbraking his way through it again.
However, the last part of section 1, after the two hairpins was a really fast part of the track. Katsumi floored the throttle pedal again and pushed her way through the high speed corners until the last hairpin in section 1. She had left the Marciel behind again. She could relax for a moment at last, and decided to take the hairpin carefully to avoid wearing her tires more than necessary. As expected, Matt was trying to close the gap again, though not so successfully in the high speed section. He took the hairpin as fast as he could, drifting thanks to his handbrake.
Katsumi was easier on the throttle on the last high speed section of the downhill, in order to preserve her tires. However Matt couldn’t afford to if he wanted to close the gap, which he was starting to do.
They finally got to the five consecutive hairpins. Katsumi knew she had to spend her tire grip there, if she wanted to win. But as she drifted through the first of five hairpins, she saw something horrifying in her rear view mirror: the Marciel had managed to keep up even with how the high powered 260GT had punished it on the long straights.
Matt started handbrake-drifting his way through the hairpins, putting more and more pressure on Katsumi as he closed the gap. Matt threatened to overtake her in the last hairpin, but she drifted to block the 124’s attempt.
On the last short straight, Katsumi floored the throttle again. She braked as late as she could. However, her braking wasn’t perfect due to the pressure on her and braked too soon. Matt didn’t trash this opportunity and closed the gap. They were neck to neck just before the last section, which was a medium speed section.
Both racers pushed their way through all the corners up to the last one. Katsumi only had to resist one more corner. Unfortunately, all the pressure building up took a toll in her concentration: she braked too soon once again. Matt then decided to try to overtake her, and managed to get on the inside of the corner.
As they exited the last corner, Matt could start accelerating sooner. They both floored it and crossed the line at almost the same time.
A later photo finish revealed that Matt crossed the finish line slightly sooner. He won.
Back at the summit, people were celebrating the race. Both Matt and Katsumi had enjoyed the race, and shook hands once again.
“Okay, people, time to calm down! Moving on…race 2, last race tonight. Tora!” - As he said this, the same man as before brought the laptop to the bosozoku guy. He took a look at it and announced: “Mike Conelly will go against…Gavin Anderson! Racers, get ready!”.
To be continued.