CHAPTER NINE: Zen driving.
Both cars lined up at the starting line. Nicholas got out of his car and walked towards the couple, who had also got out of their car, both hands together, and were doing some kind of meditation ritual. They looked at Nicholas.
“Name’s Nic-” - Nicholas tried to present himself but was interrupted by a hissing sound. “Take our hands. We need to harmonize our souls before we can race.” “Not race, honey…we’re going to make our cars dance, slip over the tarmac with unmatchable elegance…the tyres being the shoes of a expert dancer who tries to express himself through the art of dance.”
The crowd didn’t know what to think of this. Nicholas did not either, and he got into his car and waited for the couple to end this weird ritual; a few minutes later, they got into their car too and lined it up with their rival. The organizer stood between them once again, raising one of his arms. “We’re going to start the countdown! Nine, eight, seven, six…!” - As the organizer counted down, Nicholas looked at the couple with a completely neutral expression. The co-driver, Jürgen, was meditating, waiting for the car to launch, while Suzette caressed the steering wheel. “Where did these weirdos come from?” - Thought Nicholas.
Both cars launched as soon as they were signaled to. Nicholas pressed the upshift paddle at the same time Suzette was releasing the clutch, and an acceleration race started, which Nicholas won. The small FF drafted behind the Shromet, but was starting to fall behind. They entered the first turn, with the AAU gripping its way through it while the Shromet powerslid it.
“They are falling behind. I guess I can hold back a little bit to save tyres, I don’t know if I will need them later on. I better be careful.” - Thought Nicholas. Meanwhile, in the small hatchback, the driver had already started taking the second corner. “Suzette, think of the road as a stream…you’re the water that flows through it, eroding it, taking its minerals…as the water, you want to turn to the right now.” - Said Jurgen, focused on the road at the same time he gave instructions to the driver. “There’s a hairpin right after, meaning our life is going to change completely”.
Nicholas drifted into the corner, followed by the purple car which gripped the hairpin once again. Nicholas looked at his rear view mirror, convinced that they were going to try something, so he would need to save tyres for the later parts of the track; he did not floor it, he just accelerated enough to keep the lead. They would now approach the second hairpin, and Nicholas decided to grip it this time, without drifting. The AAU followed him.
“Honey, don’t tell me what you see through the windshield…tell me the ideas behind what how the road layout is changing…don’t trust your eyes. We don’t perceive the world as it really is.” - Said Suzette, as soon as she entered the first high speed section.
Both cars floored it here. As the cars started reaching their top speed, the gap between the Shromet and the AAU was starting to grow. The AAU could barely keep up thanks to drafting, and, by the end of the section, the Interval had already gained a couple of seconds. Both cars entered the third hairpin, gripping it, and using the late apex technique.
“Alright, honey, let’s start putting some pressure on him. Go ahead, he is your prey…you are the predator. Fourth hairpin…that is where we’ll catch him, then block him.” - Said Jürgen, focused on the Shromet.
Nicholas entered the corner, completely relaxed, seeing that the couple couldn’t keep up. Mid corner, however, he heard a buzzing sound from the inside of the corner, and he looked there: the AAU had dropped its wheels into the gutter, overtaking him. They tricked him!
At the summit, a group of hipsters were celebrating the overtake. People who rooted for Nicholas, however, were not too happy about; the rest of the crowd, and the organizer, on the other hand, were completely silent.
Both cars entered the high speed section. “We’re the prey now…don’t let them have us.” - Said Jürgen, as he took a look at the rear view mirror. The Shromet tried to overtake several times, being blocked by the AAU again and again. Nicholas gritted his teeth. “You tricked me? Well, I’m not having any of this!”.
Both cars entered the fifth hairpin. The AAU gripped the road once again, but the Shromet drifted it this time; as both cars exited the hairpin, they mashed the throttle. The AAU experienced some torque steer, and the Shromet had to fight against some of the oversteer the car generated, but they managed to control their cars.
“The track is aging now…from the last high speed section onwards, the track turns slow and technical…just like life, we stop being hasty and start tasting everything that happens around us as we age.” - Said Jürgen to Suzette. As the high speed section went on, the gap between the two cars was finally closed, and they were now neck to neck.
They entered the sixth hairpin; as they did so, both cars dropped their wheels into the gutter and pushed through the corner at vertiginous speeds. They exited the turn; the high speed sections were now over, and now a cornering fight would start.
As they finally approached the five consecutive hairpins, Nicholas put more and more pressure on the couple. Suzette found herself being thrown out of her most confortable lines again and again, until finally, at the fifth consecutive hairpin, she forgot to use the gutter. Suzette turned her head to the left: Nicholas did not forget the gutter. He was on the inside now, and exited the corner taking the lead again.
The last hairpin was near and the cars approached it swiftly. The gap between the Shromet and the AAU had grown and was still doing so; Nicholas entered the hairpin and the couple followed him. However, as the purple car got out of the corner, the blue Shromet was not visible anymore. Had they…lost the car?
The people at the finishing line could now hear the tyres squealing and the cars accelerating and braking. However, the sounds from both cars were off, desynchronized. Something was wrong.
The Interval appeared first and crossed the finishing line; after 10 seconds, the AAU finally appeared and crossed it too. Nicholas won. “Huh, been a piece of cake” - he thought. Both cars turned around and started climbing back to the summit.
There, the same people who were celebrating when Suzette overtook Nicholas, now remained completely silent, packing all their stuff up, as the rest of the crowd was doing. The organizer told everyone that the following day races would start at the same hour.
To be continued.