Danny’s time in the simulator went alright for him once he got rid of his audience. It wasn’t that his audience was distracting him it was because he was showing up to them a bit more than he should have.
Unlike car racing simulators that appear at gaming arcades where players can pit themselves against opponents and race at unrealistic speeds on made up tracks the simulator at Force 10 was built around real world racing. Similar to flight simulators on which they trained pilots and used commercially available software with large screen mounted to a fully functional cockpit the simulator at Force 10 was set up with a racing cockpit that was an exact replica of Danny’s race car. The software that ran on the cockpit was a specifically modified version of a top selling computer game that used the tracks of the touring car competition and allowed the teams to fully tune and adjust their own car as if they were at the race track. Just like a flight training cockpit the cockpit of the Force 10 racing simulator bucked, kicked and bounced it occupants almost as if it was a real car, about the only movement it couldn’t make was to roll the car over onto its roof.
Because of the way the system was programmed and the fact that it recorded every session it was used Danny’s lairising was not of the street stupid, boy racer kind it was the kind where he drove as hard as he could while others were watching to try and prove he was in form.
When his audience got over the initial phase of nosiness and wondering if the injured driver could perform anywhere near his pre-injury abilities they started to fade out. One by one the crowd around him dwindled and as they did Danny relaxed into the driver’s seat and into a rhythm.
Because he could choose any track he wanted he chose the McDonnell circuit as his test track, it wasn’t his favourite track on the circuit, in fact it was the track on the circuit that he’d had the most DNF’s (did not finish) and crashes on in his whole career. Not that that number was overly high but it weighed on his mind every time he raced the track.
Between his knee and the hoodoo he put on himself whenever racing at the McDonnells circuit he was well off the pace even after thirty minutes of driving under race conditions. However not only was he off his pace his knee was also aching badly from the constant gear changes.
“Looks like your times are well down.” Dave said from behind Danny.
Danny hadn’t even realised Dave was there and his reaction was evident of that. “What the fuck do you expect!” realising half way through his statement who he was talking to Danny immediately apologised not wanting a repeat of what happened in Dave’s office earlier.
Danny spent another hour alone in the simulator, he wasn’t racing the entire time, some of the time he was playing around with the car set up, or adjusting parts of the realism to suit his mood, but the entire time he was sitting down in the racing seat. When he wasn’t driving he tried to stretch his left knee out as far as the confined cockpit allowed him too but it wasn’t really enough. Although he’d crashed the car a few times, nothing serious mostly panel scraping with other cars and a few tours off the track and into the sand or a wall, his racing was relatively consistent. But his times were still down.
His times were a bit of a concern but less of a concern given that he hadn’t been in the simulator for more than two weeks and given his injury. He knew that his times would be looked at by both Dave and the team doctor but his plan was to come back in the following day and show improvement. Improvement was what he had to show, no one expected him to be of peak condition, except maybe himself, so therefore improvement each day until he could prove he was fully race fit several days out from the race met was what he would aim for.
Several times during his racing stint Danny felt his knee twinge and twitch sending bolts of pain up his leg and into his hip, which in turn made him jump in the seat. It happened mostly during the high intensity chicanes and bends along the back of the McDonnell’s track where the driver really had to work the clutch, get his gear changes spot on and the G-forces were high. Danny knew that the simulator would have picked up such movements to his body and he knew that those reading the data would know exactly what was happening, but again he had little options but to accept it.
When he climbed out of the simulator and finally asked of his sore knee to both support him and bend to help him walk he realised just how sore he was. It was bearable pain but only just and he wished he’d had stronger pain killers in his office, because it was his office where he would seek shelter until he had to leave for his rehab appointment.
In his office Danny analysed the race data from the cockpit himself before anyone else got a chance to do it. In the simulator he thought he’d done well considering his injury but the computer told a different story. His lap times had been slower than he would have hoped for, but he knew that, however it was the things like his blood pressure, his facial expressions recorded by any one of the seven cameras and the way he reacted to the twinges of pain that he hadn’t realised was happening which were cause for concern. He still had time to prepare and get better for McDonnells but those tell tale signs where what Dave and Murray Vicra would be looking for before they worried about Danny’s pace on the track.
Danny thought to himself that if nothing else he had to pick up his game and stop showing signs of weakness even if they were present. He’d been good at hiding his feelings and emotions for years, now he just had to figure out how to hide them from a computer.
Previous Racing story here.