GLORY AT LERANCE - THE LEGEND OF BENETSCH
1959: First Blood
Announcer: Gentlemen, start your engines!!
Max Hulos, the Benetsch driver, revs up the ferocious seven-liter unit sitting behind him. A great burden is on his shoulders: thanks to the strict rules at Lerance, he’s in the only Benetsch car on the field. Failure for him is failure for the whole company. Nonetheless, the East Soresian keeps his cool, because he knows that his car is reliable and controllable if nothing else. His is a confidence not mirrored by the pits, however…
Karl Selic: Well, there she goes. That flag will drop any second now; Then we’ll see if we crash and burn.
Jonas Schmidt: He sure is having his way with all that revving. You sure he won’t melt the engine before we even start?
Karl: Uh, no. God, you’re dense for a mechanic.
Up above them all, both company patriarchs - CEO Klaas Benetsch and his father Josip are perched in a private booth, dealing with their own anxiety with the aid of champagne. Klaas hates champagne, though, and is reduced to pacing back and forth in front behind the glass.
Klaas: I like how it sounds, yeah. And I know that it can be driven boldly…
Josip: Then sit down! We can’t have the press seeing you nervous right at the start.
Klaas: Oh, to hell with them. I’ll be calm when we win. Come on!
As if on cue, the green flag flies… And so does the Benetsch. Hulos operates the clutch with total precision, executing a commanding launch that leaves the rest of the field behind. While three cars are in hot pursuit, the Benetsch fellows watch in vindication as the car completes the first lap - one of clean racing - in the lead
Klaas: What did I say? The production chassis works.
Josip: Will you sit down now?
Less than 2 hours later, everybody involved celebrates a clear-cut, well-run victory. The Benetsches descend into the pits just in time to see the race car roll in.
Karl: Max, you magnificent bastard! We made it! And you didn’t even have to over-rev!
Max: Eh, I could have fared better in a couple laps. Lap 11 in particular, got goddamn swamped trying to lap people.
Karl: Oh shut up, you were great! Balls the size of coconuts, for real.
Josip: Quite elegantly put, Hr. Selic. All you boys ran a mean race today. A good way to start the season - and the car’s operational history. Enjoy it.
Klaas: No joke! And remember, just because Father and I won’t be attending every race is no excuse to slack off. The #66 must race well throughout.
1960: So Close
After a good '59 season, the #66 Benetsch returns to Lerance once more. This time, however, ZRD put more effort into keeping their faster car running; they run as perfect a race as Benetsch, and get away with the win by a razor-thin six seconds.
Karl: Honestly, I’m pretty happy that the Zephorus didn’t turn out a total dud. I’m much happier still, though, that Klaas isn’t here to yell at me this time.
Jonas: Knowing him, he’ll still want a debriefing, though.
Karl: I said all I had to say on the matter last year. Given a perfect race, the ZRD is faster and I can’t really change that. Production chassis viability, my ass.
Ander Katowis, driver for 1960: That’s a damn defeatist way to think. If the rubber had held up a little better, he would not have passed me! We were off by six damn seconds and that’s all!
Karl: Maybe you’re right.
1961: Bitter Defeat
The 1961 R2 race becomes the most brutal of all - both for Benetsch and in general. By the last lap, with Ander and his GBK leading the race, the field has already been halved with five cars out of the race. And on the back straight, it briefly looks like the leading Benetsch would become the sixth: Under braking, the car loses control and smacks sideways into a barrier and went silent. To make matters worse, this time Klaas is not absent - he’s right there in the pits.
Klaas: God dammit! How does this sort of shit even happen?
Karl: Well, odds are, our rubber supplier needs to be paid a beating or two. Ander had mentioned having issues with traction last year as well. Ope, there goes that Mocabey.
Klaas: What are the odds of us finishing, at least?
Karl: Are you serious? Ander could be injured and you’re worried about the race?
The dynast’s words prove prophetic, however. On the fifth attempt, the Benetsch turns over and started; due to the shattered left front suspension, it takes five agonizing minutes after the revival to finish the last lap. Oh well - good enough for third, thanks to the ZRD having a smaller accident on the same lap.
In the pits, Ander limps out of the car; he didn’t break anything, seemingly, but is beat up and concussed. Wordlessly, Klaas drapes the racer’s arm over his shoulder and leads him to the podium himself.
Klaas: It took some real guts to start back up. You’re a soldier for sure.
Ander: Really, boss? With you around, it would have taken more balls to stay out.
1962: Ain’t No Rest
The '62 race was as tightly-raced as the '60 one, with the caveat that the beginning laps were a fair shot more dirty. Returning '59 winner Max Hulos found himself in a constant struggle against the powerful Wolfe car and the ever-dangerous ZRD, with the former eventually conceding the race for the lead to its usual control and reliability issues. The ZRD, however, refused to break or fall behind, and edged out the Benetsch - again, by just 8 seconds. I won’t include dialogue here because I’m lazy.
1963: The Last Hurrah
Klaas Benetsch looks ever stern as he climbs out of his 1961 Kralewitsch SK70, a formidable road runner that shares the GBK’s 7-liter heart. Having conducted yet another inspection of the Lerance assembly plant, which would soon be tasked with assembling large cars such as the Kralewitsch alongside the humbler Gwesdas, the Benetsch leader is expecting to be cheered up at this, the first race of the last R2 season.
Karl Selic and Ander Katowis both stand awaiting their CEO as he strides unimpeded through the restricted area into the pits.
Klaas: Have my recommendations been taken into account?
Karl:: Yes. We have ordered tires according to the new, harder specification, and there is ballast in the front. There is no chance for a surprise now.
Klaas: I’m going to grab a beer and hang around. Good luck to you, Hr. Katowis.
Ander: I’m going to mow that Zephorus down this time, for sure.
But he doesn’t get the chance. Come the actual race, the ZRD briefly knocks itself out; Lapped by the Benetsch, it doesn’t mount a comeback. Ander finishes the race in first with few if any hiccups - if slower than usual due to the stabilizing weight - and promptly goes to drink himself half to death. In his defense, so does everybody else.