CHAPTER TWENTY: Road to the final race, part 1.
Nicholas took a quick glance at Yasmin, before getting into his car. He drove it to the finish line, where he stopped. Yasmin followed him, lining her car up and getting out of it. Both drivers got out of their respective vehicles, walking towards each other. They shook hands.
“Name’s Yasm-” - She stopped; Nicholas was giving her the coldest look she had ever received. “Nicholas Justinian. Let’s end this up already.” - Replied Nicholas, at the same time he walked towards his car, pulling the door handle with decision. Yasmin did the same, and both drivers strapped themselves to their seats. As the engines were ignited, the pushrod V8 from Nicholas’ Interval rumbled and clacked, fighting a tone war against the growling V6 from Yasmin’s Surge.
One thing both drivers noticed is that there were a lot more people gathered at the sides of the road. Some people cheered Yasmin, while others cheered Nicholas instead. The organizer stopped between the two cars again, lifting both arms. “We’re gonna start the countdown! Nine, eight, seven…!” - As the organizer counted down, both drivers took a last glance at each other. Yasmin pressed the clutch and engaged first gear; Nicholas, on the other hand, caressed the upshift paddle, waiting for the race to start. “Three, two, one…!”.
Both cars launched forwards, burning out and leaving skid marks behind. The start of the race turned into a festival of burnt rubber, rev limiters going off and backfiring exhausts. An acceleration war started, which the Interval won thanks to a sequential transmission, combined with more low end torque from its 5.4L engine. Yasmin did not fall behind, however, keeping up by drafting; the two cars blitzed through the first corner, their tyres squealing as the cars powerslid the corner. The people on the side of the road were impressed by how swiftly they managed to complete the turn.
Both cars entered the second turn. Nicholas took an ocassional glance at his rear view mirror, trying to keep track of where Yasmin was all the time. “Alright, Nicholas. You’ve come far, don’t fuck up now. I can do this.” - Though the young man, as he started downshifting to take the first hairpin. Yasmin started heel-toeing with enthusiasm, rev-matching every gear she downshifted into. “If this guy thinks he can intimidate me, he’s very wrong. I’ll show him how we drive at the track.” - Thought Yasmin, as she pushed and pulled the wheel into the desired direction.
As both cars drifted through the hairpin, the drivers countersteered in order to avoid spinning out. Both drivers caressed the accelerator and, as soon as they got out of the corner, floored the throttle pedal again. As they approached the second hairpin, Yasmin veered her car to the right; Nicholas did the same, to avoid getting overtaken. Yasmin then turned her car to the left, getting on the inside of the turn.
“Shit! She’s gonna overtake me on the inside!” - Thought Nicholas. He braked sooner than he would’ve liked to in order to avoid an accident, effectively letting Yasmin take the inside, and push to the outside as they navigated the second hairpin. “That was a little rought, but it worked.” - Though Yasmin, as she exited the hairpin. The Interval did not give up just yet: he started drafting behind the Surge, closing the gap that Nicholas’ mistake had opened at the hairpin. Yasmin took a quick look at the rear view mirror. “He’s good. He’s keeping up with me.” - She thought.
Yasmin started heel-toeing as she approached the third hairpin, and Nicholas tapped the downshift paddle repeteadly. “Alright Nicholas, no mercy from now on.” - The man thought. Nicholas dived into the corner, dropping his wheels into the gutter. Yasmin found herself forced to change her trajectory; as Nicholas claimed back his position, he looked at Yasmin, with an intimidating look. She looked back in the same way. Both cars exited the third hairpin, and entered the fourth one. As Nicholas drifted to avoid any attempt from Yasmin to overtake him, Yasmin throttled back slightly. “Time to analyze him. What’s his weakness?” - She thought.
Both cars entered the second high speed section, the longest one, with the Surge drafting behind the Interval. The spectators on the side of the road cheered and trembled of excitement as the cars blitzed through. The racers reached the medium speed corners. Nicholas entered the corner; however, when he turned the wheel, his car understeer a little bit; he forgot to transfer the weight to the front. He found himself forced to blip the brakes, making him slow down more than necessary. Yasmin braked with her left foot, tidying her trajectory and taking advantage of his opponent’s mistake: she overtook him without thinking it twice. Both cars finally reached the fifth hairpin; Yasmin heel-toed into second gear again, and Nicholas mashed the downshift paddle, starting to feel the pressure his opponent wanted him to feel.
Both Yasmin and Nicholas gripped their way through the hairpin, using the late-apex technique; as the Shromet drafted behind, Yasmin started to feel some pressure too. “Am I unable to get rid of him? This can’t be…” - She thought. “I better catch up before the five consecutive hairpins, or else I’m a dead man.” - Though Nicholas. Both cars entered the third and last high speed section, where the Interval, once again, closed the gap. Yasmin gritted her teeth slightly, and started heel-toeing into the sixth hairpin. Both cars drifted the road this time, as Yasmin wanted to avoid any attempt from Nicholas to overtake her.
The cars exited the sixth hairpins; the high speed sections were mostly over, except for the short straight after the last hairpin and the finishing line straight. The two cars blitzed through the last turns before the five consecutive hairpins, and entered the first of five hairpins. As the hairpins went on, both cars dropped their wheels into the gutters, one after one. Yasmin managed to keep the lead, until at the last hairpin, her rear end kicked out. She had to countersteer more than expected, losing valuable speed; Nicholas didn’t waste the opportunity and overtook her on the inside. Both drivers where now sweating out of pure pressure.
Both racers entered the last hairpin. In a last desperate attempt, Yasmin dived into the inside; she effectively forced Nicholas to brake to avoid an accident again, claiming back the lead. Both cars entered the last section of the track; Nicholas launched some desperate attempts to overtake Yasmin, but she block each and every of them.
Both cars entered the last turn; Yasmin started turning the wheel, only to find out her car…was starting to understeer. She had eaten through her tyres!
People remained silent at the finishing line, looking at the start of the straight, hearing the tyres squeal and the engines rev through the final corners.
A few seconds later, the Surge appeared first; but it was understeering badly, following a overly open trajectory; the Interval appeared on the inside, overtaking the Surge. Nicholas crossed the finishing line first. He turned around once he crossed the line and waited for Yasmin to drive back to the summit.
Back at the summit, the people that rooted for Yasmin were appalled; on the other hand, Nicholas’ fans celebrated: he had made it to the final race!
Nicholas sipped from his water bottle, still sweating like crazy; his heart pounded the fastest it had ever had. Yasmin, on the other hand, sighed looking at her extremely-worn front tyres. The organizer raised his voice.
“Listen up! Nicholas made it to the final race. But there’s still one more race to go before it. Now it is turn for Yui Takeda and Gavin Anderson to face off! Racers, get ready!”.
To be continued.