Less than a week left until the race season kicks off. Do you know the feeling you get in the very last moments before an exam, when it’s your turn to be called in for that job interview or when everyone’s walking in that meeting? The one that’s going make everything happen or end it all? You feel far away, as if what’s going on is unreal but, at the same time, you know you have to be there. You know you can’t let this just pass by you. Focus on the present and live every second as if it were your last. With less than a week left until the race season kicks off, that’s how I feel.
Most people around me were sleeping, eagerly awaiting two relaxing days to recharge their batteries. I wasn’t. I was up at 4:30, before daybreak, to make it in time to the last training at Rockingham. This was the last chance to improve my lap times and get it right. I secretly wanted the sun not to rise, time to stop or maybe slow down, at least. Just me and the car on the circuit for a few days – nobody has to know. When I got there, I realized that I left home so eagerly that I had forgotten my lenses – minor issue, nothing to worry about.
Something else concerned me more. All the experienced drivers had their garages reserved, I found a spot on the parking. They were full of smiles. For a second, I was caught off guard. These are the big boys. I’ve been driving around the track for a while now, but they were the ones who owned it. Yet, this is just a narrative. It all comes down to the flag and the green light. They may be good, but they can’t stop me that easily. We’ll see on the tarmac if their attitude matches their skill.
When we start, my laps are far away from theirs. Mike times them. Who would have thought that I would use a business competitor analysis on the track? I’m at 1:58, while the good ones pull off around 1:51. The gap is big, can I get there? In the meantime, I introduce myself. You never know what a bit of socialising tells you about your competitors. They’re quite entertaining, always full of laughter and friendly jokes. I wonder if it’s a strategy to make you feel at ease.
Soon enough, my suspicions are somewhat confirmed. They say they don’t train. The instructors say otherwise. Combining mind games, understatements, civility and sportsmanship, there’s not one of them who is willing to give up their cards. Whether it’s laughing off a serious inquiry to avoid giving an answer, talking less in order to arouse nervousness in others or giving the impression they’re doing a lot worse than they are, it’s all about getting under the skin of your competitor and throwing them off their game as much as possible. But when I get in the driver’s seat, none of these things matter. It’s just me and the car.
Is she following me? This girl is supported by SOS Villages and if you want to be part of our journey, download our Racing sponsorship presentation.