tagNon-EroticGrand Prix Challenge - Monza

Grand Prix Challenge - Monza

byWFEATHER©

I had just one more lap to make the pass and make it stick.

Without question, the pressure was on. If I could win this race, I would have enough points to win the championship, and I could "relax" for the rest of the season. Yet I still needed to fend off Montoya, who was bearing down on me rather quickly.

I've got to win this one!

As I rocketed past Pit Exit, I saw the yellow flash of a Jordan returning to the track. It must have been Takuma Sato, for I had passed his teammate Fisichella coming into the Parabolica.

I was just close enough that I could sense Michael Schumacher's draft, but not nearly close enough to be able to make the pass entering the first chicane. It was indeed time to take a few more risks than usual.

At the tight right-left Rettifilio Chicane, I did not drop down to second gear as I had on each of the previous fifty-two laps. Instead, I only dropped to third gear, the right-side tires bounding hard over the rumble strips, taxing the suspension; with the worn tires, enough tread had been chewed away by the pavement and my one off-track excursion ten laps earlier that the undertray actually briefly scraped the track as the left-side tires bounced over the second corner's rumble strip, the car beginning to slide just enough to scare me a little as I instantly countersteered and only slightly lifted off the accelerator.

Although it moderately spun the rear tires, I was hard on the accelerator, rocketing off after Michael Schumacher. My risky approach to the initial chicane had paid off, however, for I was indeed closer to the lead Ferrari as we approached and rocketed through Biassono at full speed, neither of us lifting at all through the long right-hand bend through the trees.

Good! I'm gaining on him! I've caught his draft!

Glancing back, I saw that my risky maneuvers at the first chicane had caused Montoya to drop back considerably. Whether he knew that I would definitely beat him or thought it best to lay back and allow me to make a driving error, I was entirely uncertain, but not having him immediately bearing down on me allowed me to return my full attention to the Ferrari before me.

Barreling toward the Roggia Chicane, I was certain that Schumacher would defend the racing line extremely well. There is really only one possible racing line through the tight left-right Roggia Chicane anyhow, but when unencumbered by traffic, it is possible to drop the wheels over the rumble strips at the apexes and pass through the chicane at a greater speed than normal. I had to catch myself, force myself to slow and simply follow Schumacher through the chicane. Yet, I was able to go deeper before braking, drawing my nose almost directly underneath his rear wing.

The draft was intense, and I very nearly pulled out to try to make the pass, but the run to the First Lesmo was definitely too short for that tactic to be successful, especially since Schumacher was hugging the right side of the track to protect the upcoming corner.

Patience…

We simply played Follow the Leader through First Lesmo, my worn tires being taxed as the car slid toward the kitty litter on the outside of the corner exit and causing me to lose a little ground. Still trailing the race leader, we both passed McNish as we exited the Lesmos. I was close enough for Schumacher's draft to slowly suck my car closer and closer as we sped along Serraglio, but when I tried to pull out and make the pass as we neared the first bridge, I had to drop back to avoid ramming the slowing Arrows of Bernoldi.

On approaching Ascari, I knew that this would be my best chance to outwit the world champion. I rode Schumacher's draft as long as I possibly could, then darted out to the left just as he applied his brakes, the result being that I claimed the inside line to the first corner of the chicane, but I could not necessarily hold position, Schumacher being in the prime location for the right-hand harder-braking corner of Ascari and brining us literally front wing to front wing on a scrap of asphalt not meant to be handled two-wide, thus forcing Schumacher's right-side wheels off the track and over the rumble strip in order to avoid the otherwise-inevitable wheel-to-wheel collision. Despite the workout forced upon my suspension as I bounded over the rumble strips of Ascari, with two of his tires in the grass, the unexpected friction alone caused him to slow just enough for me to take the lead, yet I still drifted wide right exiting the chicane to force him to slow even more.

Got the lead!

As I sped along the straightaway, however, I was not yet in the clear, for Michael Schumacher was still close enough to sniff my draft as we sped past his brother's ailing car. Several times along the lengthy straightaway, I would move to one side of the track only to have him almost perfectly mirror me, allowing him to remain in my draft and draw ever closer to my rear wing.

Protect the inside line!

I watched closely behind me, trying to anticipate an attempted outbraking maneuver. I guessed correctly, going just as deep into the entry of the Parabolica as the world champion and practically manhandling my car to the right side of the track, cutting off his attempt to claim the inside line and forcing him to dive wide left to avoid ramming me from behind. The maneuver caused my tires to slide again, wearing away even more of the much-needed rubber, and I actually slid toward the outside of the lengthy corner, once again giving Schumacher a useable draft.

Come on... Hold it together...

About one-third of the way through the lengthy right-hand bend, I pressed the accelerator as hard as I could, thankful for the increasing radius of the Parabolica.

Time seemed to stand still. Each millimeter took a full year to traverse as I kept one eye on the track ahead and one eye on the contender closing in behind me. Again, I zigzagged my way across the track, trying to break the draft but never truly successful.

As I reached the starting grid, the world champion somehow found just enough extra speed to worm his way forward, his front axle in alignment with my rear wheels.

It's a drag race to the line!

Time slowed even more. With perfect clarity, I could see every position on the grid before I passed it, I could discern every fan in the crowd, I could sense every nuance of the near-slicks on the front of my car...

It suddenly ended. When the final results were posted seconds later, I had beaten the world champion at his team's "home track" by 0.009 seconds.

I did it!!! I actually did it!!!

I breathed a massive sigh of relief, slumping back in my chair, my fingers aching from the intensity of the closing stages of the race. After waiting for my progress to be autosaved, I finally stood, approached the television, and turned off the console, my heartbeat still incredibly rapid and my palms still amazingly sweaty.

I wanted to challenge – and ideally beat – the world champion again, but I first needed a much-deserved break.

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