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Life At The Top (A KSP Racing Novel) (My Personal Comeback + 39. The Rookie)


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11 hours ago, Mukita12 said:

Awesome. As the great palpatine would say
"We'll watch your career with great interest"

:D

 

Update for everyone, Chapter 40 has been finished! Now to send it to Grammarly, get a proof-read, and do some final checks before publishing! Should have it out either today or tomorrow if everything goes to plan!

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On 4/16/2021 at 1:39 PM, DarkOwl57 said:

Should have it out either today or tomorrow if everything goes to plan!

So that was a lie.

Apologies, everyone! Things came up Saturday, and Sunday was a totally filled day. My Dad invited me to Arlington for a Texas Rangers game (Suite tickets, somehow!) and I jumped on the chance. After a thrilling 1-0 victory in 10 innings (MATT LOWE YOU MAJESTIC CLUTCH MASTER), I'm finally back on the writing path! Should have the chapter out soon-ish!

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Okay, so I believe it's all ready! Sorry for the delays, but we are ready for Round 4! I'm not going to do the full season- instead, I'm going to just do specific races from the schedule that are the most important ones. Hope y'all enjoy!

 

Chapter 40

5:01 PM, April 4, 2038. Mallingham, Carthia. Post-Race for Round 3: The Carthian Grand Prix.

   “So, are we flying back tonight?” Max and I walked into the lounge, carrying the trophies and grabbing our things. 

   “I thought we had that tire test thing in Kafrica on.. Wednesday?” Max adjusted his P3 hat- one of the many that he had already received so far. 

   “No, that’s after Solaria. 21st I thought.” Just then, Arcazon walked in, still wet from the champagne, and sat down on the couch. He buried his face in his hands, and I walked over to him. 

   “Are you alright?” The kid nodded and held the trophy tightly.

   “Yeah, just… thinking about this crazy year.” I chuckled, remembering the meeting where he had blown up at Matty. “When I started this year, I didn’t know if I would be in K1 for the season... Heck, I didn’t even know if I was going to have a drive!” He laughed and looked down at the cup. “This is absolutely insane.” I put my hand on his shoulder.

   “It’s yours. You earned it.” I heard chanting outside, and Arcazon lifted his head. We’d been off the podium for a couple of minutes, but the crowd didn’t sound like it had dispersed. He smiled and stood up.

   “5 more minutes, and I promise I’ll do my interviews.” I shrugged, and he grinned before bouncing out of the open doorway to a roar from the crowd. This was a high he wouldn’t be coming down from for a while. 

6:00 PM

   “It looked like the F-Tech’s had your number today, especially in the rain. Do you think they will be a threat to the dominance you’ve established so far this year?” I shifted on my feet and heard a puddle slosh under my boot. The lights glared around me from both the cameras and the city as the sunset had begun to turn into darkness. Thunder rumbled far off into the mountains.

   “Well, they just had a good car today. We had some issues with the balance this week, and we lost time in the second sector. I think that I would have passed Juan regardless of any engine issue, but they built a good car for this week.” Cameras flashed as I spoke. Before the next question, I took a drink from my bottle.

   “You were on pace to catch Arcazon Kerman by the end of the race, but a mistake threw it all away. What happened there?” I clenched my jaw briefly in anger. I had been asked the same question at least ten times so far in the last hour and a half of interviews.

   “Yeah, it sucks. I just pushed too hard, and I locked up. It is what it is, and I’ll try to make sure to avoid mistakes like that in the future.” I counted to ten in my mind and tried to calm myself down.

   “So there wasn’t anything wrong with the car; it was 100% driver error?” I shook my head and gripped the bottle tightly.

   “I already answered that question. Next?” There were more camera flashes but no more questions. “Awesome, see y’all in a couple of weeks.” I walked off and shook my head, joining Max, who was waiting up for me.

   “That took a bit longer than usual,” he said with a bounce. I nodded and grabbed my phone, clearing about a hundred notifications of texts and tweets.

   “It felt like forever.” Almost every question I was asked was a variant of either the weather, why we were slow, or my lockup. It was getting annoying, but I understood why the press wanted to try and dig into me.

   “I can imagine.” Max nodded and jumped over a puddle, landing silently on the other side. “So, Solaria in a couple of weeks. I think our engine should be able to keep us alive through there.”

   “Probably, yeah.” I looked up for a brief second and saw Arcazon. He was lying down on the track, staring up at the sky. The trophy was next to him, gleaming in the street lights. I stopped and smiled. Max joined me and chuckled.

   “I wonder what’s going through his head right now.” Thunder rumbled through the hills.

   “What did you think about when you won your first?” We resumed the walk back to the car.

   “Probably something to do with how stupidly lucky I was.” I laughed and gave him a light shove on his shoulder. 

   “That would have been… What, ’36?” Max thought for a moment and nodded.

   “Tekkia. I got you on the final corner.” I nodded, remembering the close finish.

   “Gosh, that would mean we were… 18?” I sighed, thinking back.

   “Yeah, 18. So I was probably also thinking how I could impress a girl with a trophy.” Max grinned, and we both chuckled. I felt a buzz in my pocket and checked my phone. Andy had scheduled a debrief for the following day at 8. I was happy for Arcazon, but I had to shift my focus. I’d gone six races without a win, now; the longest stretch of my career. I could feel the clock starting to tick, little by little.

 

1:00 PM, April 7, 2038. New OTech Headquarters; River City, Owlia

 

   I flipped the page on the Race 4 packet, which showed the track, details about the race, our car updates, and the expected performance of other teams. The track detail was especially thick this week since the Solarian GP circuit had undergone a big re-profiling since the last time we had visited the circuit. As such, Andy made sure that we got even more studying in for the upcoming race weekend. As I looked at the new attack angles of Turn 19, I heard a knock at the door.

   “It’s open,” I called out, looking at the simulated view of the new uphill attack of the corner. The fact that we had these reports every week made me a bit nervous about the state of our printers and the health of forests.

   “New report for you,” Andy said, popping his head in the door. I groaned and put my head down on the desk. He produced a document about half the size of the one I was reading, and I shook my head.

   “What’s this one about?” I set down the race week document and thumbed through the newer packet.

   “Engine modes,” Andy explained, making me look up at him.

   “I thought that we already decided to keep our power modes through to the Summer Break.” With the further advancements of the electric hybrid Power Distribution Systems (PDS’s for short), the teams had been able to open up more to newer power modes that provided more deployment flexibility. Instead of a simple on/off switch, the Power Modes had turned more into a slider. Judging by the packet, I felt like the slider had just gotten bigger.

   “Yes, but I figured we could use a refresher of the Fail Modes.” I looked up at him in surprise.

   “Fail Modes? Why do we need to worry about Fail Modes?” Our car had been practically bulletproof the last two seasons, and even our affiliates (OTech GP and Racing Line Kindia) hadn’t suffered many technical problems over the season. 

   “Firstly, you pushed the engine pretty hard last week, so we want to be prepared in case the engine blows. Secondly, it always pays to be prepared. Third, I’m-“ He was interrupted by a voice from outside.

   “Remember, everyone, no cameras down on the workshop floor, please! This is the Executive Hall, where our main employees- the drivers as well as the race engineers- have their offices.” A tour! I stood up and made my way to the door.

   “Jeb, I’ve just got a couple more-“ He was interrupted by the tour guide’s voice outside.

   “Now, this office right here is for Jebediah Kerman, who’s been with the team for three years now.” I pointed both thumbs towards the frosted glass, which had silhouettes starting to appear on it.

   “Gotta go,” I said, leaning towards the door.

   “Can’t we-“ I opened the door a crack.

   “Five minutes, I promise.” He rolled his eyes and shrugged, sitting down in my chair. I grinned at him and poked my head outside, still smiling. “Hello, everyone!” I had completely forgotten that the team did guided tours, but I was grateful for the distraction.

   “Hi, Jeb! We’re not interrupting anything, are we?” I shook my head at the guide, who had a name tag that said “Grace.” Three years and I’m still learning people’s names.

   “Nah, nothing at all! I was just about to go to lunch.” My stomach growled for extra effect, drawing a few laughs from the tour group.

   “Can we get your picture?” One of the kids in the group spoke up, and I smiled.

   “Of course!” I leaned up against the glass and posed as a few of the tourists came up for photos. With how much work Andy was piling on, I wouldn’t have much free time for the rest of the week. 

 

12:35 PM, April 18, 2038. Round 4 of 13: The Solarian Grand Prix. Stellar City, Solaria.

 

“Welcome, everyone, to the fourth round of the 2038 K1 season! Today we say hello to Solaria: Home of space travel and a stunning race circuit nestled on the coast of this Kafrican nation. Following a thrilling race last race, rookie Arcazon Kerman is looking to rekindle the magic after claiming his first career victory- at his home race, no less. While the rookie rose, the veterans faltered. The race exposed the big dogs of OTech and Monster, who are looking to return to form following a wild race in the rain.

“No rain expected here today, though, in this gorgeous city. With 20 turns- nine to the left and eleven to the right- this circuit features some of the more dramatic elevation changes on the calendar. Renovations over the winter have re-profiled four sections of track, which will only add to the excitement that’s in store for us today. Good day, everyone, and welcome to the commentary booth! My name is Jim Kerman, and joining me is 2025 K1 Champion Jeremy Kerman! Jer’, welcome!”

“Jim, it’s fantastic to be here. The final race of the Kafrican sweep, Solaria, played host to a thrilling race last season, where the OTech Teammates put on a whale of a show for us. This track, I think, will really favor the current championship leaders, who last week demonstrated that their 2038 engine package is incredibly strong.”

“For sure, and we’re looking forward to it! The Solarian Grand Prix, coming up!”

 

 

   “How’s the car feel?” I took my run through the re-profiled chicane and sped up, letting the car push through The Loop. The recon lap so far had been uneventful, besides a little slide in Turn 2 where the track rose over a curb.

   “Feels good; everything’s going smooth. Gears feel smooth.” The track fell away through Turn 17, but the car didn’t lose grip. Because of the long straights, our engine was allowing us a massive advantage. Combine that with a low-drag aero package, and everything was looking good for Max and me.

   “Alright, just keep it easy. The telemetry looks good, so you can come to the grid if you want. Remember to deactivate your Fails on entry.” I did my best to limit strain on the engine by shifting up extra early and coasting and running the added Fail Modes. Even though it was just four races into the season, the team had been busy with upgrades- 11 modes for both Engine and Electric power, eight specific default modes, and over 20 fail modes that we probably wouldn’t even need. I was grateful for Landin’s help in managing everything from the cockpit. As I coasted down the hill, I noticed a slight dissipating cloud in front of me. I turned into the banked Turn 18 and felt the rear slip out a bit, despite going so slowly on practically fresh tires.

   “Hey, there might be some fluid or something on the track in Turn 18. Not sure, though.” I exited 18 and climbed the hill to Turn 19 before noticing yellow flags. I slowed down and crested the hill just as I passed a slow CM car off to the side. It looked to be coasting as the emergency lights had come on, but I didn’t focus too hard on it. “Coming to the grid.”

 

“Oh dear, what’s this? It looks like we have one car going slowly.. That’s- that’s Arcazon Kerman, the winner of the last race! The Carthian Motors car has gone slow, here at the top of the hill, what’s happened?”

[Arcazon K. Radio]: “Uh... I just lost power. No power on the back straight. What do I do?”

[Engineer]: “What happened?”

[Arcazon]: “I don’t know. I was going down the straight, and I suddenly went into Anti-Stall.”

[Engineer]: “Can you shift?”

[Arcazon]: “Yeah, but there’s no power. I’m pushing the gas, and it’s just grinding.”

[Engineer]: “Okay, bring it back to the pit lane, and we’ll take a look. Do you have any response?”

[Arcazon]: “Negative.”

“Oh no, that’s so unfortunate for the rookie, who looks like he won’t even make the grid! What happened on the replay?”

 

   I arrived at the grid, and the team lifted the car, moving it to the grid slot as I undid my gloves. The Jumbotron to the left of me showed a replay of what had happened. He was going down the straight perfectly fine before I noticed a slight puff of smoke exit the exhaust. A small trail of smoke came out a second later, and I could tell the car was done. I raised my visor and pointed at the screen just as Andy walked past.

   “Engine issue?” Andy leaned down to hear better, and I repeated the question. He looked up at the replay for a few seconds and nodded.

   “Most likely. They pushed hard trying to catch us last time; I bet that’s what caused the issue.” The replay ended to show Arcazon limping through the pit lane, barely keeping the momentum from the downhill out of Turn 19. A small trail of smoke was still coming out of the rear, and I knew it wasn’t going to be good for the team. I shook my head and listened to the team radio for a little bit before stepping out of the car. A few cameras clicked and rustled as I passed, but it was mainly silent on the short walk to the start-finish line for the anthem. I looked back at my car, which had a black engine cover for today’s race.

   Over the two-week break, Walker Murray, a long-time commentator for K1, had passed away. The teams up and down the pit lane were doing something to recognize him. Monster had removed their logos to make a (mostly) blacked-out car; OTech had painted over the engine cover; F-Tech had painted their nose black; on and on the tributes went. It was a fitting touch for the legendary voice of the sport.

 

“Welcome back, everyone, we’re just 5 minutes away from the Formation Lap, and the big news is in the pit lane! Tiffany, what do you know down there?”

“Well, Jeremy, the 77 car of Arcazon Kerman had an issue during the recon laps! He lost power down the Bradley straight, and he had to be pushed to his pit box! As you can see behind me, the team is working frantically to diagnose the issue, but it’s not looking good at the moment. The engine cover is off, and the team is working frantically, but I don’t know what they’ll be able to do to fix the car in time for lights out.”

“I can see someone’s legs sticking out of the back, there- has anyone confirmed whether it’s a gearbox issue or a power unit issue?”

“Well, it appears to be a Power Unit issue. We saw on an earlier replay, some smoke came out of the rear of that car, and- Oh, here’s Arcazon now. Arc, we saw smoke coming out of that car on the recon lap; what happened?”

[Arcazon]: “I’m not sure, frankly. The car was going well, and then I lost power.”

“Do you think you can get back out there for the start, or is this game over?”

[Arcazon]: “If anyone can get it done, it’s these guys.”

 

   “So we have 5 minutes to formation lap.” I adjusted my gloves, which were a bit hot from sitting in the sun. “Conditions are clear, no weather threat.” I keyed the radio as the team worked on their final checks.

   “Alright... My hands are a bit hot; I forgot to put my gloves in the seat. I’ll be good, though.” As soon as I finished speaking, a cloud drifted over the circuit. I sighed and looked up at the run into Turn 1. The team kept going through their checks, and it was finally time for the formation lap. The car got away well, and I began my work of warming up the tires.

   “Good launch, everything looks fine on our end. Get-away will be about that off the start.” I weaved down the straight before negotiating the first turn- a tight hairpin with loads of runoff but little grip. Turn 2 was an uphill, nasty corner that had a raised curb on the exit. The car got light on the apex, and I knew it would be difficult to make a move- or even hang onto the car with worn tires. Our first re-profile came in Turn 4. It was tighter than before, but the banking had been raised to help us speed through the corner. However, one benefit was that Turns 5 and 6 had been re-profiled to have less of an aggressive bend, which would help maintain speed into Turn 7. I let the car drop on the apex of 5 and dove through 6, and the car bottomed out just a little bit on the corner exit.

   The second re-profile was the 9-10-11 double-hairpin. The Turn 9 hairpin had been entirely removed, making the entire corner a lot more flowing and easier to manage. I was glad that the clunky right-left hairpin was finally gone, as it opened up a new opportunity to carry momentum. The uphill straight of 11-12 felt even more dramatic this year, but I enjoyed the aggressive climb. Turns 13 through 16 had gotten a new look as well, with the chicane essentially being smoothed out to allow for more speed through the Loop.

   “Grip feels good. The tires are nice. I’m really liking what the car is doing right now.” I weaved out of Turn 17 and let the car coast down the hill.

   “Copy. Temperatures should cool down a bit; we’re looking at overcast conditions for much of the race.” The crowd to the outside of Turn 18 cheered as we passed, waving flags and taking pictures. A Solarian banner had been placed at the end of the grandstand, and it lightly waved in the breeze. We crested the Turn 19 hill and went past the new viewing tower constructed for the fans. “Remember that Default-Eight is available at the start. Good luck.” I hit the throttle to get some wheel-spin before entering the final corner. I moved the Default dial to its highest setting before going down into my grid spot, halfway down the front-straight. The rest of the cars lined up, and I lowered my visor.

   One light. I felt my heart rate beginning to rise. The run down to Turn 1, chaotic and unpredictable.

   Two lights. I pushed in the clutch. No room to breathe for the midfield.

   Three lights. The engine started to hum as the RPM climbed. Stacked cars exponentially multiplying the risk of chaos.

   Four lights. The engine was in the sweet spot of power and torque, and I held it steady. Nowhere to go in the event of a disaster.

   Five lights. My breath sped up as I watched the lights glowing. Where a race can be won… Or lost.

   Zero. I got a perfect start and leaped away from the grid, taking advantage of a late reaction from Max. I moved down the race track to cover the inside run to Turn 1 and made the most of my start. The engine rapidly rose with every short shift as the field accelerated.

 

“One light, Two, Three, Four, and now Five! It’s lights out and go, go, go! Jebediah Kerman, what a start from Pole position, leaping away from his teammate in P2!”

 

   I held my inside line, and Max moved up the track, simultaneously stopping an attack from Michael behind him. I wasn’t bothered in Turn 1, and I let my breathing begin to relax on the corner exit. There was a slight lockup from one of the cars behind but no significant contact as the field started to thin out. Max led from P2 away from Michael, Juan, and Lewis, who had leaped up from a P7 starting spot. The car got light over the rise in Turn 2, but I kept it pointed in the right direction before Turn 3. Max was trying to close in, but the dirty air wasn’t helping at all as we climbed the hill into the Stadium. I exited the long corner and heard a loud noise from the crowd as a cloud of smoke appeared in the second corner. The lights on the steering wheel didn’t change as I took Turn 4 for the first time at speed. Before I could dive into the corkscrew corners of Turns 5 and 6, however, the steering wheel lights turned yellow, and my display flashed in the Safety Car pattern.

   “Safety Car, Safety Car. Back down Default-Two, keep fuel for the restart. Watch the Delta.” I groaned and turned the engine down before the corkscrew. “That was a fantastic start, by the way.” I let the delta on my steering wheel turn green before I pushed the throttle in and accelerated out of the corner.

 

“Heading down out of Turn 2 and into 3, everyone navigating that hill- Oh a spin! One car around and a big shunt! Lucas White, in the Archer, that’s a massive accident at the back of the field! Safety Car deployed, that looks like the Vitesse Courses car of Ellis as well!”

 

   “Tires had good grip,” I responded as the rest of the field bunched up behind me. I saw the other cars in my mirrors: Max, Michael, Juan, Lewis, and Louie, and Jesus before I lost track. The opening run through Turn 7 wasn’t as dramatic as I had expected due to the delta, but I still enjoyed it regardless. “What happened at the back?”

   “Someone got into Ellis in 2, and she spun across the pack. Got hit by one of the Archers. Both drivers got out.” I took the car through the chicane and noticed how thin the line would be at speed. With the Safety Car ending on Lap 4, we resumed action. I was in Turn 17 when I got the message that the race would be restarting soon.

   “Alright, Engine Mode P-Nine available on Overtake. P-Nine on Overtake for the restart.” I weaved down the hill on the back straight as the Safety Car drove off, growing a gap. 

   “Okay, what Default is that going to be?” The field bunched up behind me.

   “Default-Seven is authorized. Go to P-Six and E-Four on your Default mode.” Default-Seven would map the Overtake button to the MAX mode, while our non-overtake mode would be set to Rich. I turned the dials that I needed to and got ready for the restart. The crowd cheered as we passed through the shadow of the Tower, and I saw the Safety Car disappear around the final corner. “Safety Car is in. You control the pace.” I felt my heart start to speed up as I rolled downhill towards the last corner. Max jutted forward before braking into the final corner, and I took my chance. I utilized the higher engine mode to get away well, launching out of Turn 20 and down the front straight. Max wasn’t able to put the power down as quickly as me and lost ground. 

 

“Green flag is out as we start lap 5, and what a start by Jebediah Kerman in the OTech!"

 

   The engine climbed in RPM, and I didn’t even feel the need to make a defensive move into the first corner. Max was too far behind as we entered the braking zone and focused on playing defensive against Michael. I attacked the curb and exited the corner right in the middle of the rumble strip as Michael came under attack from behind. I navigated Turn 3 and tested the limits of grip out of the corner. Max couldn’t keep up, and by the time I broke for Turn 4, he was already over a second back.

   “Overtake has been re-mapped to Default-Three.” I dove through Turn 5 and ran wide on the curbs before I responded.

   “Got it.” I spun the thumb-wheel to reduce the normal engine mode, transitioning out of the restart phase and into the race phase. The car reacted well through the high-speed Turn 7 as I carried all the speed I dared. I touched the curbs on the exit and went back up the track to get ready for Turn 8, braking smoothly. The apex was smooth, and I made sure to use every bit of curb that I could since we knew from practice that it wouldn’t cause a risk of spinning. The wall on the exit wasn’t a concern, and I stormed through the chicane as hard and fast as I possibly could.

   “Fantastic stuff, the gap is already growing. This is a great pace.” I flew up the hill and let the car get light before slamming the brakes, bringing the car back down with the help of aerodynamics. The car flowed through 13, and I powered out of the corner to fly through The Loop. I turned the engine up to Rich to get as much speed as possible, combining the strength of the power unit with the gravity from the hill. Sparks came off the rear of the car as I hit the bottom of the hill. I ran through the banked Turn 18 and immediately got going back up the hill. The left-side tires got up onto the runoff curbing, which created a loud buzzing sound before I came back on the racing line.

   “Grip is absolutely fantastic,” I radioed in before rising over Turn 19 and then diving back down the hill. I felt the car get a little bit loose over the crest, but I held the wheel firm and kept the nose pointed forward. The braking for Turn 20 was clean as possible, and I attacked the curbs both at the apex and on the exit. As I crossed the line, the radio beeped.

   “Alright, that’s the fastest lap of the race. Max 1.9 seconds back, let’s settle in, now.” As I kept ticking off the laps, Max kept dropping further and further back. The battle behind him had gotten incredibly tense, with Louie storming up from 6th place at the restart and applying the pressure. However, the biggest surprise was Lewis, who made the engine work a treat down the long straights and actually took the fight to Michael in the battle for P4. By the time I had reached Lap 10, the gap was out at about 12 seconds back to Max.

   “How are the tires feeling?” I flew down the second straight before responding, taking Turns 7 through 11 to get a feel for grip levels.

   “Everything’s good so far. Not really feeling any grip loss so far.” I slammed the brakes for the bus stop chicane and was already on the back straight before getting a response.

   “Alright, fuel levels are good. Let’s just keep this pace if you can.” The car held its grip over the dip out of Turn 17 and rocketed down the straight.

   “Got it.” I raised the harvest mode on the electric dial, which raised the amount of energy that would be collected by the electric generator under braking. A red light on the back of the car began to flash, but no other car could see it before I flew into Turn 18. The fight behind had calmed down- Max led by a second and a half over Louie, who himself led over Michael and Lewis.

   “You can go Default-Nine if you want. Just a thought.” I flew over the curbing at 19 and keyed the mode, which turned the engine up just slightly.

   “Alright, thanks.” With how well the tires were lasting, I could see the strategy easily making a 1-stop. Tire wear was much better than we expected, which helped me blast off fast times even after 11 laps. I dove into Turn 1 and rolled over the curbing that had already started to develop a fine line of rubber. The car shook over the exit curb at low speed before putting a tire past it and onto the runoff. The smoothness allowed me to accelerate up into Turn 2, and I cut down onto the apex curb. The rear got loose, and I fought the oversteer before flowing uphill into Turn 3- my heart beating just a little bit faster than before. The curb was terrible to attack, and it had almost cost me.

 

“As we enter Lap 11, the battle for P4 has really started to heat up, as the young Lewis Kerman is taking the fight to the experienced veteran Michael Kerman! Meanwhile, further back, we see that Juan Kerman has just been overtaken by Riley Mitchell in the Kindia car, and it just doesn’t look like F-Tech is having a good weekend at all; they are really struggling for pace, so far.”

 

   The engine howled down the straight as I pushed the limits down the straight before I lowered the engine mode. The dial clicked into place on my steering wheel, and I smiled before throwing the car into Turn 7. The tires and suspension flexed under the weight and force of the turn. I kept setting down fast laps until my steering wheel went yellow in Turn 18.

   “Safety Car, Safety Car, box this lap. Go to Default-Two. Big crash in Turn 7.”

 

“Safety Car has been deployed, here, what- Oh my goodness! One car has just been buried there into the tire wall, trying to see who that is now... That’s the Number 99 car, Matthias Blomqvist! It's a double-DNF for Carthian Motors, not at all what they wanted to see after their first win last race! That is an incredibly nasty accident here at Turn 7, and we have the Safety Car deployed on Lap 14.”

“From the way that car is angled, Jim, I’d have to say that it was a mechanical failure or a tire failure from the look of it. Absolutely massive accident, but... I can’t tell, but is he moving around?”

“Yes, Jeremy, I think so. Let’s try to see what happened here and piece everything together..”

 

   I pulled into my pit stall, and the team got the fresh tires on perfectly, sending me out. On the big screen behind me, a replay showed Matthias barreling into Turn 7 before the right-rear lost pressure. The car snapped around sideways hard and fast and impacted the tire barrier with a cloud of smoke and enough force to throw the tire wall up into the air. Another replay showed Arcazon watching the screen, shaking his head.

   “Good stop, guys, that was great.” I exited the pit lane and wormed through the long exit road before rejoining the circuit. I spun the steering wheel dial to maximum conservation and started working on getting heat into the tires.

 

“And now it looks like Blomqvist is moving around, and.. Now he’s out, that’s a wonderful thing to see, and obviously, he’s winded after that massive shunt into the barriers.”

 

   I caught up to the Safety Car and weaved to warm the tires before I got a radio message.

   “Alright, you don’t have to warm the tires yet; this is going to be a fairly long Safety Car period.” I kept in line with the Safety Car through the corkscrew at Turn 5 as the rest of the pack began to catch up.

   “Alright. What happened?” I checked the driver lineup behind me; Max, Michael, Louie, Lewis, Mitchell, and Jesus.

   “Looks like a puncture into Turn 7. The driver walked out okay.” I coasted over the skid marks from the CM car and saw the crash site as I emerged from around the corner. The entire side of the car had been crushed into the barrier, and I noticed that the tire barrier had been moved by the impact. Suspension arms littered the impact area, which was surrounded by flame retardant and fluid drying powder. I briefly saw the driver- Matthias- sitting next to the barrier. He was obviously still a bit shaken by the accident.

   “Was it a tire failure or what?” The left-rear had a lot of force going through it, with some of the fastest corners on the track being right-handers. If it was a tire issue, it meant everyone on the grid might be in trouble.

   “We believe there was contact earlier in the race. No issues with the tires.” The Safety Car broke for Turn 8, and I followed neatly, trying to keep everything warm.

   “Alright, thanks.” The Safety Car period took longer than usual- about 6 more laps- but we were finally ready to resume racing after Lap 21.

   “Default-Seven authorized on the restart. Primary engine mode is at your discretion.” I spun the thumb-wheel to a high default mode that would assist me when I wasn’t running overtake, and I weaved up the hill as the Safety Car drove off.

   “Copy.” I coasted into Turn 20 before grabbing a gear and leaping away from the apex- laying down a couple trails of rubber on the racing line before turning the engine to Overtake. The get-away was perfect, and I gapped Max out of the corner, utilizing the engine to further my advantage. The engine roared with every upshift, standing out from the 18 others that remained in the race.

 

“Green flag here to start Lap 22, and away we go! Another fantastic launch by the OTech, but this time Max Kerman gets a good launch away from the cars behind as well! Meanwhile behind, that’s the MRT car of Louie Kerman taking the fight to his older teammate and getting past down the straight!”

 

   I moved down the race track to cover a potential dive that never came before sliding back up the race track for the optimal line under braking. I flung into Turn 1 and over the curbing, letting the wheel wash up the track. The suspension flexed over the curbs and around Turn 3. I noticed the rear aero holding firm, which signaled that the car wasn’t side-slipping through the air and that the rear was perfectly in line with the front. I smiled and went deep into the braking zone of Turn 4. The car made sparks off of the bottom of Turn 6 with Max in my mirrors. Behind the order was Louie in P3, Michael P4, Lewis in P5, Riley Mitchell in 6th, Jesus Costa from F-Tech in P7, Williams from LakeFront in P8, and, astonishingly, the lone remaining Vitesse car (Hope Anker) sitting in 9th ahead of Juan. Max had managed to create a small gap ahead of Louie, while Michael was being hounded for fourth by Lewis. I kept the car on the limit and gained away from Max. By Lap 25, I had gained a couple seconds.

   “Just keep hitting your marks; that’s 10 to go.” The battle behind was hot, with Lewis finally passing Michael by flying up the inside of Turn 1. Michael tried to defend by holding the inside, but the rookie threw dust into the air off-line. The two navigated the tight apex, and Lewis ended up getting the power down just a little bit better.

 

“The rookie is going to go for it! Lewis moves to the right- now the left! The Monster goes to defend but look at this! Lewis Kerman almost at the wall and now alongside!! Through the apex, and he gets the move done! What a great battle, and now Michael is going to try to come back on the outside!”

 

   Marty was working on attacking Mitchell ahead and actually got the move done into Turn 7. However, with DRS, Riley was able to fly past into Turn 7. While my race was boring, the action behind it was fantastic. Hope and Juan were able to catch up to the battle ahead, turning a three-way battle into a five-way. Juan locked up into the chicane and made contact with Hope’s right-rear tire, which sent everyone scrambling.

 

“Here we go, JUAN KERMAN’S GOING FOR IT! Down the inside into the hairpin! Oh, this can’t work! CONTACT! The F-Tech into the side of Anker! Everyone moving to avoid and what’s happened?! Anker is going slowly through the Loop as everyone gets away!”

[Hope A. Radio]: “What was he doing?!?! Mon Dieu, qu’il est idiot!! Qu’est-ce qu’il a fait?!”

[Hope A. Engineer]: “What happened?”

[Hope]: “He just hit me in the corner! [Blanked out]!”

[Engineer]: “Okay, box this lap; we have a puncture.”

[Hope]: “C’est des [Blanked out].”

 

   While the battle for P6 was ongoing, Hope almost lost the car in Turn 17. She had to run wide and onto the grass, which sent the tire carcass way into the field. 

   “Okay, be careful. There might be debris in the Loop. One car got a puncture. Repeat, be careful of debris in the Loop.” Max was a couple of seconds behind, which allowed me to turn the engine down.

   “Copy.”

 

“And now the question we have: will that be a penalty? As Hope Anker is limping back to the pit lane, Juan Kerman is keeping on! Still, a fantastic battle going on, here, with Mitchell now getting past the F-Tech of Costa!”

[Juan K. Radio]: “Ay ay ay, I think we have damage. That car just turned down on me into the corner! Where was I supposed to go?”

[Juan K. Engineer]: “Okay, we are looking.”

 

   I navigated the chicane and didn’t see any significant debris- just a few small pieces of carbon fiber. The battles behind continued, but I kept my pace. The laps ticked down. Six laps. Five laps. Four. Three. Two. One.

   “Default-Double-One, Hit the marks.” Max was three seconds behind and didn’t pose a threat, allowing me to go into the reduced engine default.

 

“As the battle behind has kind of cooled off just a little bit in the back, we look at the leader, Jebediah Kerman, with a massive lead over the rest of the field!”

 

   I attacked Turn 1 but didn’t go all the way to the outside of the curb- electing to go easy on the car. The rise over the hill was smooth before I exited Turn 3, trying not to focus on the crowd to my left in the Stadium. Even with the worn tires, I managed to attack Turn 4 and hit the exit perfectly. A couple of sparks came off the rear as I bottomed out in Turn 6 before rocketing down the straight.

   “Slow car 5 seconds up the road. Shouldn’t be an issue, but be aware.” I shot into Turn 7 and could feel a slight wash of understeer as the tires began to fade out. The tight runoff out of the corner set me up for Turn 8, which I managed to take in 4th gear. I flung through the chicane and attacked the curbs before coming out onto the straight. The slow car ahead was the Vitesse of Anker, and I was a bit surprised to see her up the road. She locked up into Turn 12 and ran off into the escape route as I navigated the chicane. Hope didn’t put up a fight and let me pass on the inside of Turn 16, and I spared a quick wave to her behind me. I used the DRS out of Turn 17 and flew down the hill, moving the power modes up just to get a little bit of an extra bump for the speed trap. The crowd on the outside of Turn 18 cheered me on as I flew past them and back up the hill. The sunshine glared over my visor over the crest before I dropped back down the track. The brakes responded well through Turn 20, and I ran up the curbing.

   Out of the final corner, I held my fist high, weaving down to the bottom of the track and then back up next to the wall to get close to the team. They were already out of the garage, waving and pumping their fists on the fence. Dust flew up from the tires as I moved, and I saw the finish line in sight.

 

“And now, after losing last year’s championship in heartbreaking fashion, after coming so close last race weekend, Jebediah Kerman, out of the final corner, wins it for OTech!! What a dominating race all throughout, and a fantastic job this weekend! Jeremy, what do you make of that drive?”

“Well, it was never really in question, was it? That car was on rails all race, and they really made the most of it. Astounding performance by Jeb, and a great job with the victory here today.”

 

   I laughed into the radio and sighed, pumping my fist into the air as I slowed the car down.

   “Wooooohohohoo! YEEEAAAHHHH!! That’s what’s up!! Thank you!!” I turned the engine down to its lowest setting and moved down the track (towards the stands) as Max crossed the line. 

   “That was amazing! P1! Congrats on breaking the streak!” Landin’s voice was ecstatic, and I remembered this was her first race win. I beamed beneath the visor and keyed the radio.

   “How’s it feel to be a race winner?” Landin laughed and went silent before I heard a familiar voice over the radio.

   “Jeb, that’s fantastic! Career victory number 15, amazing job!” Andy’s voice was a bit loud over the radio, but I didn’t mind. I waved to the crowd to the left of the circuit, beaming beneath my helmet.

   “Thanks, Andy! I appreciate it; you did one heck of a job building this car! Thank you all so much, fantastic race!” I waved to the fans as I went around the track and eventually pulled into the paddock. I stopped in front of the #1 sign, and Max was close behind with #2, but I noticed a flash of white behind me in the general parking area for the other cars. Hope, the driver I had lapped, was pacing in front of her car, and she looked livid. I shook my head and turned to the team, who had assembled by the barrier. Landin was already there, grinning as I hugged her.

   “Amazing job!” The other drivers filed in as I high-fived the crew, and Landin got to join Max and me on the podium as the team representative. As we were walking back, I saw Arcazon, already in his “Street Clothes” (non-race gear), and gave him a high-five.

   “Man, what happened out there?” Arcazon shrugged and patted Max on the back as he passed. 

   “I don’t know, the thing just blew up on me! I’m pretty sure it was something in the engine. I pushed it too hard last race, probably busted a rod or something. The guys said everything in there was totaled.” I nodded just as a loud noise came from the crowd, followed by angry yelling. Arcazon laughed as I turned around to see Hope being led away from Juan’s car, shouting in Feguan and waving her arms. “Oh gosh, she hit him,” Arcazon chuckled, looking at Juan, who was yelling back, even though the two were separated by 3 or 4 team members.

   “You ruin my race!” Hope yelled through her heavy accent, holding her hand out at Juan. I could understand where she was coming from. Vitesse had always been near the back of the standings, and they needed every point they could get. A P6- even a P9, if she didn’t come out on top of the battle- would have been incredibly beneficial for the small team out of Fegeland. I shook my head as the arguments went on.

   Just another day in the office.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, everyone, today is a very sad day indeed. I have begun the (heartbreaking) process of storing all of my files for the inevitable loss of this laptop. For the last 6 years, all of my stories have been on the wonderful Apple application known as Pages. Now, however, I feel that its time is coming to an end. As I transition to college, I do not know whether a MacBook will continue to be my trusted typing tool. These keys, a bit faded and very well-used, have been my messengers to the world.

Do not worry, LATT will continue. I'm just sad to see an old friend go. If formatting gets messed up, it is because I am moving over to Google Docs for my writing, at least for the time being. HOPEFULLY this comes with minimal changes, but there's always the possibility that something goes haywire. As with everything, though, I'll do my best to power through it :)

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