No Fear

Steven Marsh wants to be a motor racing driver- can he achieve his goal? Lets find out together...

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5. Crunch!

The first of the final two races had only served to intensify the fight for title glory. The short track meant you wound up lapping slower drivers a lot sooner and could find yourself mixing it up with racers two or three laps down who didn't realise you were one of the leaders. The wide corners and rigid barriers conspired to create a monster of a track that didn't forgive slip-ups.

Steven loved the place. The cold October rain poured down outside but the indoor arena was nice and warm and dry. The karts were ready. The final race was looming and he could not wait.

Dicenzo had won the last round and now sat on 58 points. Sullivan was on 56, Stone was on 59 and Steven himself was on 54. Just five points therefore separated the top four drivers.

Rodger was skulking about the pits, looking in desperate need of a cigarette- the teams were all checking the karts and making sure nothing was loose, wobbly or leaking. Peter himself was in the public gallery, talking to his mum, and Steven was chatting to Ellis. He had no idea where Philip or Michael were.

"This is it fella. The big one- feeling confident?" Ellis playfully nudge Steven on the arm.

"Yeah. Hoping for a good race." Actually, I feel terrified but I'm not telling you that!

"Good. Remember, you need to win this one- really go for it!"

Thanks for stating the obvious. "Yeah, I will!"

"Good luck." Ellis grinned, patted Steven on the back and went off to check the karts again. He clearly wasn't leaving anything to chance.

Qualifying had gone reasonably well- Steven was second on the grid, right behind Dicenzo. He was five points behind and realistically needed to win with Dicenzo no higher than third if he was to claim the title- the same applied to Stone. Ideally the pair of them would finish third and lower with Steven winning and Peter in second, which would be enough for him to claim title glory. Now it just had to happen- somehow.

The one minute warning sounded. Team owners offered up their last words of wisdom for the year. It was time to get to business.

The red lights went on. The drivers focused on that light, poised like lions waiting to pounce. They were ready for thirty minutes of intense racing.

When the lights changed to green the roar of the engines started in earnest, and they were away.

Steven lunged down the inside of Dicenzo, and made the move stick as they accelerated toward the opening right-hand turn. The karts sped toward the second corner- another right-hander- and Steven held his line, keeping Dicenzo on the outside. Next was a right hairpin, quickly followed by a left hairpin, and then a fiendish left-right-right-left combination of corners before the karts came to a pair of gentler right corners and one final slight right turn before they were shooting down the main straight again. Steven crossed the line in the lead and chanced a look behind him. Dicenzo was hanging on; Steven couldn't see where Peter or Michael were.

He managed to keep ahead for another lap, and was getting into a good rhythm as he tore round the familiar corners of the Letchworth track. He knew Philip was lurking, but he knew the circuit better than his own bedroom and held every line to the best of his ability as he hurtled around. Philip was so far not challenging for the lead, but Steven suspected that was more out of a desire to avoid trouble than because he wasn't confident. He also knew Peter and Michael were going to be hot on their heels. There could be no letting up in the pace.

The laps ticked by. Steven grew nervous. Was Philip holding on to second because it was enough for him? Under the circumstances they'd be tied, but Philip had four wins to what would be Steven's three- and that would count in Philip's favour.

What he desperately needed was to see Peter's kart behind him, and then hope Peter wouldn't get past him. Trouble was, he had no idea if Peter was even likely to make that happen.

About seven minutes in Steven started to sweep past backmarkers. The uncertain variable they represented always made him nervous. It only took one mistake to end his race and any hope of the title. They could simply hold him up too- letting Philip get the chance to pounce.

As it happened, a backmarker did cause a problem- but not for him. As Steven completed another lap he spotted the helmet of Michael Stone, and another kart he didn't recognise- locked together by the right-hand side of the track on the main straight. Now more than ever, he wanted Peter to squeeze by Philip- and he hoped he could keep ahead of them both.

Unfortunately for Steven, events were about to take an unsavoury turn.

A kart up ahead was embroiled in a battle with another driver- one had a light blue uniform and orange helmet and the other a darker blue uniform with white trim and a blue and red helmet. Steven approached them on the awkward left-right-right-left section and as he tried to move through the guy in the orange helmet moved to block him. Steven swung to the left to try and past again, intending to offer up a gesture of dissatisfaction, but he never had the chance.

Philip was trying to come past him. Steven had been so focused on getting past the squabbling backmarkers that he'd failed to notice him. Their karts collided, and Philip's kart smacked into the barriers just before the pits. Steven bounced off him, spun around twice, and when he righted himself Peter was sweeping past him on his way to the start-finish line.

Steven slammed down the accelerator but nothing happened. His kart was refusing to start up!

He was stuck in the middle of the track, on the final small straight before the main one, and Peter was disappearing. One by one, other racers were moving past him as well. Getting increasingly desperate, Steven smacked the steering wheel and held down the accelerator but the engine gave a weak cough and gave up. His race was finished.

Marshalls waved yellow warning flags and the karts still in the race slowed down, allowing the marshalls to get on track and push Steven's kart into the pit exit. Philip's kart was likewise being pushed in via the pit entrance. It was race and title over for them both.

Steven was out of his kart and stomping off toward his team members before his kart had even come to a stop. He'd yet to remove his helmet because tears of frustration were leaking out and he didn't want anyone to see. His great chance was over, all because of a stupid backmarker!

Rodger and Ellis were saying things to him but he walked straight past them, shaking his head. He was too pent up to speak and just wanted to be alone. He noticed his parents leaving the gallery in a hurry but he couldn't speak to them either.

Once outside the arena, into the cool October air (it had stopped raining), Steven ripped his helmet off and dropped it to the ground. He wanted to find the guy who'd scuppered his race and reduce him to a bloody pulp. He wanted to scream and rage. He was so wrapped up in his turmoil that he didn't notice someone marching up briskly behind him.

"Oi!" Came a voice from behind him. As Steven turned around, he saw Philip- and Philip's fist, aiming for his face.

He quickly got out of the way, narrowing avoiding a black eye.

"What the hell man?" He said. "What are you playing at?"

"You ruined my chances, you dick! I could have won! But you rammed me off the track!" Philip was seething, adrenaline pumping through his veins.

"What are you on about? I was trying to avoid a backmarker! I didn't know you were there!"

"Yeah right." Came the sarcastic reply.

"Are you calling me a liar?" Replied Steven angrily.

"You can insist otherwise all you like, I know what you did. You can use any excuse you want, but I'm reporting you to the marshalls."

"Piss off. I'm telling the truth, don't you dare try and get me into trouble." Steven's voice was raised.

"I don't believe you." Philip glared at him one last time, then headed off back into the arena. Steven stood still for a second, not trusting himself not to throw a punch of his own, then followed Philip back inside.

 

 

 

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