Danny sat in the driver’s seat of the Lamborghini waiting for the lights to turn green. He was in the fourth row, with three cars directly in front of him. The engine was rumbling behind him and he could already feel the heat in the cabin increasing despite wearing a cold suit that was connected to the car’s cooling system and pushed cold air through his suit and helmet.
During the warm up lap while he was snaking along the short straight into Singleton corner warming his tyres he’d put his foot down a little too hard and the tail end kicked out. It was an easy recovery and because of the distance between the cars he wasn’t at risk of hitting anyone or any thing but it was a reminder to him how differently the Lamborghini put the power down to his own race car and it was something he had to remember on the start line.
His right foot was resting on the accelerator, his left had the clutch depressed far enough to disengage the clutch plate and his left hand was resting on the gear stick as he gentle fluttered the revs up and down waiting for the lights to change and the flag to drop.
No matter how many times Danny had sat on the starting grid, more than five hundred times since he started in go-karts in his teenage years if he was counting, it never ceased to amaze him how long those seconds between the red light illuminating, going out, then the green light illuminating really were. He knew that up and down pit straight as the stewards went through the starting procedure they checked for cars not running, or unable to actually start and that the time frame was important but sometimes it felt like he could write a best selling novel in the time between the red light and the green light.
As the red lights lit up on the gantry above the start finish line Danny increased the revs of the Lamborghini, around him his fellow competitors did the same thing in their cars. Danny’s eyes flicked quickly from the car in front to the gantry and back again because he knew that unlike the leader of the race the first few seconds of his race was only between him and the car in front. Danny needed to get the best start possible, have the fastest reaction time possible, but he also had to focus on the car in front so that if that driver stalled or took off too slow he could take the action he needed to avoid him. Then if he did have to avoid the driver in front he needed to be suddenly aware of the car beside him and behind him so as to be able to find clear track and not end his race before it began. “A race was rarely won in the first few laps but it could always be lost on the stating grid” was a favourite saying of Dave’s in his team pep talk meetings.
When the light finally changed to green, he hadn’t quite written his best seller, Danny got a great start, which considering he’d not done any grid starts in the Lamborghini he was very happy with. He’d had the revs high and when he dropped the clutch he was lucky not to have the wheels spin, in his own car they would have with such high revs but his own car wasn’t all wheel drive, the Lamborghini was and although it was close to spinning it didn’t and he shot off the line quickly and straight.
Even better than his good start was that the driver in front, Brooke Swank, took off just as well, if not better. Danny clung to the tail of Brooke’s Porsche as they moved along pit straight, each gear change of the Lamborghini seeing it drop mere millimetres off the rear of the Porsche while every gear change of the Porsche saw the Lamborghini creep ever so closer to its tail.
Despite being focused on Brooke’s Porsche Danny was also able to focus on the cars beside him, neither seventh or fifth had made a great start of it and although they had got off the line clean they were dropping behind, leaving Brooke and Danny in fifth and sixth respectively. It was a long hard slog into the first corner from a stop start and by the time Danny rounded the first bend he was in fourth as he slip streamed Brooke’s car past two others. Under full race conditions where the tyres were warmer, the track warmer and a few more sheep stations came into play Danny would have used that slip stream to try and shoot around Brooke as well. However on the opening lap when the tyres were below temp, below pressure and the track still cold it was far better to hang back, bide his time and treat it like a race not a sprint.
Danny drove hard, and drove a tight race. He kept pace with the lead cars and kept the car on the track and mostly on the racing line. In the pits he managed to stop on his marks and take off without stalling or spinning the tyres and most of all he managed to race hard without even swapping paint with other cars. It was a good hard racing and Danny was enjoying it immensely.
That was until he was nearing the end of the seventeenth lap.
Coming down the last straight that led to a sweeping right hander in seventh position and then into the chicane, the chicane that was added in recent years to slow cars down before the tight right hand bend onto pit straight and the pit entrance, Danny slipped slightly wide.
Previous Racing Story here.