This is the moment when everything is perfect; I feel every vibration, hum and screech like the entire car is embedded in me. In a way it is, I’m just the final component that brings all this finely engineered machinery together – the nut that holds the wheel.
I’ve spent the entire race waiting for this moment for fifty-five laps I’ve been bullying this car making it stretch, shimmer, bend and dance beyond what it was designed to do. Only now have we come to an understanding and we are both in total harmony with the final lap to go. Just in front I see my rival the last obstacle between me and winning this race. I can see he is suffering, wheels blistered in the race heat and brake discs glowing as he goes sideways into the corner. I laugh as I carry more speed and zoom right up onto his wing… Too close! And his bad air pushes my front down and he gains valuable yards as I recover – ease off the aggression before it costs me my zen.
We duel for the next two corners each time I learn something new. The first corner tells me his brakes are shot and he has to use his gears to slow down; the second corner I see the last of the rubber come off his back wheels as he snakes to control the sudden loss of grip. We race like we are attached by an elastic umbilical cord I catch up on the corners, but he still has the legs on the straights. All I can do is keep myself calm and push him into a mistake. I settle down along the back, no sense in pushing too hard until the last set of corners. I keep close though making sure all he can see in his mirrors is me, I don’t want his eyes on the track, I want him looking back at me.
For what feels like an eternity we reach the last set of corners, a switchback that is a joy to run, pushes you right down into your seat forcing a smile as you fly on through. With my wing and grip alone I have the advantage, his car is spent and it will be all he can do to stay on the track. I gun him down the straight forcing him to go faster into the corner than he wants, the car skips and a gap you can drive a bus through opens. I feather the throttle, trusting the down force to hold me in place and we are side by side. I glance over I can see his eyes burning through the helmet as he wrestles his car into the reverse corner. I know he can’t hold it at this speed and like a gazelle I leap forward, it is over the switchback decided the race, he held me on guts alone and I respect that, but this race is mine today…