RCKakashi14's GT7 Fanfiction: Stars & Stripes Act 9 - Power Play

Page 13 - New Shining Stars



Kevin is placed in the Intensive Care Unit, after doctors managed to stabilize his condition. The young German racer is still in a vegetative state, while Gerhard, Abel and Mila are anxiously awaiting for him to awaken, even if it's only a fiddle or twitch of his fingers.

And to break that eerie moment of silence, Mila approaches Gerhard.


"I heard you exclaimed that he is your son. Are you... Gerhard Kern?" Mila asked.

"So you heard, Mila. Yes I am." Gerhard replied.

"All this time, you are guiding him?" she added.

"Yes. It was the only way I know how to raise him while protecting him from Maximilian." he replied.

"And now, he's like... knocking on death's door. Are you still going to hide it from him?" she asked, with her eyes about to burst tears.

"I have done a lot of bad things in life, and this is... the worst. I shall regret this forever." Gerhard replied.

"Kevin lost his mother and had no aim in life until he found out what happened to her. All of this... was his product of revenge. You didn't guide him enough." Mila said, then storming out to the hospital corridor.

She leans on the wall, and tears start flowing. She then covers her face. Moments later, Dave, and the Kanonji twins make a hasty walk to Kevin's room.

Takuma sees Mila's moment of despair. He would then hug her. She composes herself afterwards.

"Mila, how is he?" Takuma asked.

"He still hasn't awakened. The doctor told us that... this might... be his last." Mila said.

"I'm sorry..." Takuma said.

Takuma then gets inside, along with the others. He sees Gerhard standing still looking at his son, while Abel merely looks out by the window.


"Mr. Kern?" Takuma said.

Gerhard turns back and looks at the others.

"I can't believe this. I shouldn't have let this happen. My timing wasn't right... I could have told him the truth much sooner." Gerhard said.

Takuma glances at Kevin. Then all of a sudden, he sees Kevin's right hand twitching.

"Kevin?" Takuma said.

Gerhard turns back to look and gets closer. Kevin's eyes opened, and he looks at Gerhard.

"Mister... Gottlieb..." Kevin said in a weak tone.

"Kevin.." Gerhard said, then he turns to look at everyone in the room. He and Mila then look at each other.

This is the golden, yet somber opportunity for Gerhard to unveil himself to his son.


"Kevin... your father... is here. It's me. Gerhard Kern." Gerhard said.

Tears roll down from Kevin as well, having finally known and realized the person guiding him was his father all those years.

"You...? For... real?" Kevin asked.

"Yes... yes. I am sorry for lying... and putting you on such a huge predicament. It's all my fault." Gerhard said.

"All this time..." Kevin said, and he shows a big smile.

"I am sorry, Kevin. I am really... really sorry. I am a terrible father. I wasn't able to save your mother, either. How I wish I could turn back time." Gerhard said, and then he holds Kevin's hand.

"No... it's my fault for being so reckless. You did everything for me. I... love... you... father." Kevin said.


And then Kevin breathes out his last sigh...


"I'll say hi to mother for you..." Kevin utters his final words, and the monitor shows a flat line. Abel quickly rushes out to call the nurses and doctors. They rush into Kevin's side and attempt to revive him with a defibrillator.

But to no avail. The doctor would look at his watch.


"Time of death... 5:05 pm." the doctor said.


Mila cries on Kevin's right side, while Gerhard stands up, and punches the wall repeatedly along with an endless rush of tears. He would then stop, and weep.

Takuma and Takanori look at each other with long faces, while Dave can only look up the ceiling, trying to fight his tears, sniffling his nose.


*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: A cemetery in Stuttgart, Germany
Time: 4 pm, two days later




News of Kevin's passing quickly spread through various form of media. The gaming community spent moments of silence for their fallen friend who gave them inspiration. The cosplaying community would then post various tributes of Kevin in different platforms.

While Gerhard requested for the burial to be private, hordes of fans would then deposit flowers and wreaths. A big flower wreath from Red Bull was also seen, as a tribute to Kevin's contributions to the X Program.

Kevin is buried next to his mother, with a bright ceramic epitaph standing on the ground.

Czarina attends as well, and the first she approaches is none other than Gerhard.


"Condolonces... Mr... Gott-- I mean Kern." she said.

"Thank you. I appreciate your presence." Gerhard said.

"I have extended an olive branch to your son before he passed. I promised him that I will put my father to justice. I won't stop." Czarina said.

"How selfless. I can't believe I am hearing this from you." Gerhard said.

"Then I found out... you're alive after all." Czarina said.

"I never heard from your father ever since he escaped from the Azores. I was the one who provided the breadcrumbs to you." Gerhard replied.

"I'll make it up to you. My search shall not cease. I will update you. This is the least I can do for you both." Czarina said.

"Thank you. You are one daughter I never had. This must be tough for you, considering how much you love him." Gerhard said.

"This will end. Soon." Czarina said with conviction, clenching her right fist.


*********************************************************************************************************************

Location: Trial Mountain Circuit, Washington State, USA
Time: 3 pm, one week later




Life must go on, one said. Loss can be really difficult to get over with, especially when it involves everyone around you.


Under Gerhard's orders, Neo resumes their activities, preparing for the 4th round. They have to qualify after all.


In the pit lane, Alphonse heads over to Neo's pit garage, carrying a small card.


"Excuse me... is Mr. Kern over there?" Alphonse asked.


Gerhard sees the young man and approaches him.


"Oh, you must be Mr. Alphonse Blanchard." Gerhard said.


"I offer my sincerest condolences. Here's something for you..." Alphonse said as he hands over the card. Gerhard flips it open, and it contains a message:


"I have lost a friend, a rival, and a brother. We will meet once again, Kevin Kern."


And attached is another small card, showing a Discord Nitro avatar that he only came up with a quick photo editing.


"The last time we played, I lost against your son. I gave a one-year worth of Discord Nitro subscription as part of the deal. But now..." Alphonse said.


"Thank you, young man. I think Kevin would appreciate it more if you give your all. Do not hold back. Do not be affected." Gerhard said, then he pats on Alphonse's shoulder.



Neo then begins the qualifying session with a different livery on the AMG.

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The matte black is a clear sign of mourning, but Dave at the helm clearly does not let emotions get the better of him.


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"Everyone in Neo feels down, obviously." Dave remarked.


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"No matter what, we all have to move on. Kevin wouldn't want to see long faces." he added.




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Alphonse honors Gerhard's request.


"Kevin entrusted me his dreams. I shall not fail." Alphonse thought.



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Meanwhile, Giacomo enjoys the upgrades the Giulia received after a disappointing result in Bathurst.


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"A new flat floor... makes a huge difference here." Giacomo remarked.


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"Can't lose against those Pianizzis..." Giacomo added.


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Seems like he has some issues with the Pianizzi siblings. Whatever it is, the Giulia will definitely put up a better fight.






The next day, the race begins.


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Neo is placed 4th on qualifying. Gerhard is actually impressed with the improvements of skill seen by the three drivers ahead.


"It seems that we are ushering in the new era. Alphonse... Giacomo... and Charlie. I can sense those three will change the landscape of racing." Gerhard said.



"Kevin... don't you worry. We will do the rest. We will finish this fight. Those three rising stars... better watch them." he added.




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End of Page 13




 
Page 14 - Leading The Charge




The 4th round commences at the Trial Mountain Circuit. The circuit is nestled within the mountains of the Washington State. However, it had been in steady decline in the 90s and 2000s until a group of interested wealthy car enthusiasts decide to breathe life into the circuit once more. Eventually, the FIA poured their resources into the track as well, and has been a host of recent races in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA.



Music: Blue Owl (Remastered) - Art of Trance



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Giacomo qualifies in the top ranks, taking advantage of the Giulia's upgrades.



"I cannot fall once again. Let me shine too. You aren't the only rookies here." Giacomo said.


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Even Charlie is surprised by the Giulia's pace.


"Woah... that was one hell of an upgrade. But hey, at least I am keeping that little French guy at bay." Charlie remarked.



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"Looks like I'm going to have a fun run. Heh. Bring it on." Dave said with a grin, fully welcoming the challenge.



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"ANDIAMO!" Giacomo exclaimed over the radio. A war cry of sorts. What's going on with him?




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Alphonse snatches back the 2nd position, but clearly the Giulia proves to be a rocket in the grid.



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"Those three are really going at it. Gerhard made a remark about them being promising." Dave thought.



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As the battle rages on, the pit crews could not take their eyes off the telemetry screens. Czarina suddenly receives a phone call. She heads at the paddock to answer it privately.


"Hello?" Czarina said.


It was none other than Alexei Bourdovsky, who has been searching for Maximilian and leading the Interpol's search as part of the plea deal that will reduce his sentence.



"You will really be excited once you hear this: We have finally tracked down your father. He's last seen in a port in Hamburg according to surveillance, no less. Ports and airports throughout the continent are already given notice. Better make haste..." Alexei said with a giggle.


Wasting no time, Czarina ends the call with thanks and then instructs the pit crew to take charge of communications. She then proceeds to Neo's pit garage, reaching for Gerhard.

She approaches him, and taps on his shoulder. Gerhard removes the headset.


"We found him. He's in Europe. Hamburg, Germany." Czarina said.

Gerhard's fist clench.


"Let's go. I will deal with him. There is one thing I will do to him." Gerhard said.


Gerhard instructs Takanori to take over the communications.


"Takanori-san, please take charge of communicating with Dave. This is an emergency, I must leave." Gerhard said.

"Osu! I'll be on it." Takanori said with a smile.




Czarina and Gerhard hastily depart the track's premises. A car picks them up and heads off straight to the airport where her private jet awaits.






End of Page 14

 
Page 15 - The Red Helmet




The long flight to Europe didn't tire Gerhard at all. He is more than determined to settle things once and for all. Upon arriving in Germany, they are approached by Alexei, who shows a grin upon seeing Gerhard.




"Well, well, well... look who came out and tell the world." Alexei said.


"Hmph! Save the banter for later. Where is Maximilian?" Gerhard asked.


"Don't worry... Germany has locked him down. He's all yours. Hehe. But he's not in Hamburg." Alexei replied.


"Then we'd better get moving." Czarina said.



Czarina and Gerhard head over to Stuttgart, while Alexei sets off to meet with the authorities once more. They proceed to Gerhard's office building. Upon getting in, he takes Kevin's red helmet on his desk and then the pair proceeds next to the parking lot.


The two get in his RUF CTR3, repainted in Gulf Blue. After strapping in, Gerhard places the helmet on Czarina's lap.


"Hold it for me. This is significant." Gerhard said, and then he starts up the supercar and hastily exit the premises.


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Czarina once again calls Alexei.


"Alexei, how's tracking?" she asked.

"He's in a small town just nearby where you are. I am actually looking at him right now... right across the cafe... in an abandoned house, he peeks out with his shiny sunglasses and a cap." Alexei replied.


She receives the coordinates via the SMS, and copies them to her navigation app. The app would then show the directions.


"Okay, head straight." she said.


Gerhard buries the accelerator down. Czarina looks at Kevin's helmet. It's shiny clean, as Gerhard made it a habit to wipe it everyday since his son died.

"Why did you bring this?" Czarina asked.



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"I shall fulfill Kevin's wish." Gerhard replied, as he vigorously pulls the sequential gear shift to change up a gear.


Remembering the words Kevin said back in his tell-all, she finally realizes what he plans to do.


"Forgive me, for what I am about to do your father. All this pent up rage must be unleashed. It's been decades." Gerhard said.


Czarina's eyes widened. But then she settles immediately and breathes out a sigh.


"I see..." Czarina said.


"Do not worry, he will face justice. Two wrongs do not make a right." Gerhard added.



After half an hour, they arrived at the coordinates provided by Alexei. Alexei makes a signal, instructing them to come over to his side so as to avoid being detected.


"You made it. There. Right in front of you. A brick house is where he hides." Alexei said.


However, just as they are about to take the first step, they see Maximilian getting out, making a run for it. Gerhard leads the chase.


"Shoot!" Czarina said, as she is struggling to keep up.



Maximilian stops an unsuspecting green Lamborghini Urus at gunpoint. The driver, fearing for his life, exits the car and Maximilian takes the helm.


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"He stole a car?!" Czarina exclaimed. The three decided to part ways, with Gerhard and Czarina returning to the RUF. Alexei alerts the authorities as well.


A chase ensues in the small town, with bystanders panicking and running for safety.


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Czarina couldn't believe what she's seeing - her father sank at his lowest.


"This is ridiculous." Czarina said.





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"He's got nothing to lose, that's what." Gerhard replied.


The chase leads them out of the town. Polizei and a helicopter also follow suit.


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Two brightly colored cars quickly grab the attention of the INTERPOL who are eager to pin down Maximilian. Alexei asks for assistance as he is in the chopper.


"He stole a green Lamborghini Urus. Target is a green Urus." Alexei said.



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The CTR3 easily keeps up, and upon approaching the next bend...


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...Gerhard performs a drift, using the car's body to block the Lamborghini.



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Maximilian applies the brakes. Having no choice, he runs out to the grassy field. Gerhard unstraps himself and gets the helmet from Czarina's lap. She then follows suit.


Gerhard's fitness enables him to sprint faster and gain ground towards Maximilian. Before he could pull out his gun from his pocket, Gerhard finally manages to tackle Maximilian down to the ground.


And now... Gerhard's rage begins. He pummels Maximilian's face with punches left and right.


Gerhard pauses and ventilates.


"Hah... hah... this field... is where everything began. And this is also where everything shall end. Poetic, isn't it?" Gerhard asks with a grin, followed by another punch on Maximilian's nose.



Gerhard reminisces everything that happened to him, while still pinning Maximilian down.



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And as a coup de grace, he hurls Kevin's helmet, and smacks it on Maximilian's eyes. The impact caused the visor to crack.


Czarina would then yell.


"STOP! THAT'S ENOUGH!" she exclaimed, with tears gushing out of her eyes.


Gerhard looks at her, but then he returns his attention to the bloodied Maximilian.


"Be thankful... you still have someone who loves you. And I... believe in change." Gerhard said. Then he stands up, picking up the damaged red helmet and looking at it.


"It's all over, Kevin. You can finally rest." Gerhard said.




Then he hugs the helmet, having a solemn moment with tears flowing; while the helicopter and the police vehicles finally arrive at the scene.


Maximilian is brought up, then his hands were placed in handcuffs. Czarina can only look at her father being led to the police car. The father and daughter would briefly stare at each other.





End of Page 15
 
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Page 16 - Rainy Day



Location: FIA Headquarters, Paris, France
Time: 10 am, two days later




Overcast skies are prevailing the atmosphere. People outside are carrying umbrellas, just in case the showers make themselves known.


And just in a large building, specifically the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile headquarters located in the French capital, where matters involving motorsport and automotive world in general are being discussed.

Gerhard Kern walks along the main hallway, surrounded by reporters eager to find out his identity and his involvement in bringing down Maximilian Marsh to justice. He keeps his silence, and then the security leads him to the escalators, blocking the reporters.

He re-aligns his necktie, and heads over to the president's office, now occupied by none other than the new chief, Noel Chevalier. Gerhard smiles and shakes hands with the French executive. The two men sit across each other.


"Good day, Mr.... Kern. Wow, I am still in awe. To think I used to commemorate you. Never knew you were here all along, pulling the strings." Noel said, pouring carbonated water on their glasses.

Noel has this slicked back, brown hair with a neatly trimmed full face beard. At 45 years of age, he is one of the youngest to have led the prestigious organization.

"I'm a fighter. Simple as that. And fighters must come up with the best strategies on hand, not just brute force." Gerhard replied.

"You played very well. Bravo!" Noel exclaimed as he applauds, followed by the two men giggling.


"And of course, I offer you my sincerest condolences. Kevin was such a fine, yet bold young man who wasn't afraid to shake the ground." Noel said.


"I guided him with the best I could. But of course it was too late when he found who I truly am." Gerhard said.

"In my teenage years, I followed your every race, even skipping school to see you even just on the bleachers. That same boldness from Kevin reminded me of you." Noel said.

Gerhard smirked. But now on to a more serious matter...


"Now, on to the real business. We are cleaning up this organization, mon ami. People connected to Maximilian have been questioned, though some merely disappeared. Now that he's behind bars, my next job is to return the glory this organization once had. You know how tainted it got under his watch." Noel explained.

"Of course. Since I was his most trusted confidant, I got hold of everything that he did, and all of those are currently in INTERPOL. They will have a field day with those." Gerhard said.

"And yet your hands remained clean. What a marvel." Noel commented.

"The best revenge on a dirty player, I say." Gerhard said.

"Echec et mat (Checkmate)." Noel said.

"I can offer my assistance in regards to new racing regulations and rules, and for the well-being of race car drivers as well. Now that I am Team Neo's director, I get direct insight of the action, from the paddock to the race track." Gerhard said.

"Oh magnifique! I welcome that." Noel remarked.

"But of course, I refuse any seat from this organization. I merely want to play fair. Now, with that out of the way, I will now entrust you the future of racing." Gerhard said.

"You can count on me. I will not fail you, and your son." Noel replied.

"Very well. But, should there be anything that betrays your convictions, I will be the first person to call you out. Understand?" Gerhard said.

"It will be a tall order, but I can manage." Noel said.



Their brief meeting concludes. The two men smile and shake their hands. The FIA opens a new chapter. Gerhard exits the office, and then a female secretary enters, handing over a white envelope to Noel.


"Sir, this is for you." the secretary said.

"To whom did it come from?" Noel asked.

"This was just dropped off in the reception area by an unknown man. He merely asked it to be delivered to you." she replied.


Noel tears open the envelope. Inside is a piece of paper that reads:



"Il n'y pas d'échappatoire."
(There is no escape)


Noel crumples the paper into a ball and throws it in the bin.


"Merely garbage. You may go now." Noel said.



*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Neo Headquarters, Nurburg, Germany
Time: 10 am, three days later




The showers persist the whole week, and there is a threat of qualifying being cancelled.

Nigel summons the drivers to the conference room, in preparation for the final round.


"Good morning, everyone. As with the current weather conditions, the qualifying has a high probability of being cancelled. But the race shall continue regardless. The FIA has decided to use the 4th round's results to determine the grid positions." Nigel said.


"So that means, we start at 4th." Dave said.


"Correct." Nigel replied.


"And as for the current standings, we are placed 2nd in the championship, just behind Blue Streak. The French team garnered a total of 38 points, while we, Team Neo, have 26 points. Third place belongs to Mistral Motorsport of Italy, just 1 point shy at 25." Nigel explained.


"That Giulia suddenly became a rocket in the 4th round. Well, it did prevail in the 1st round against the Veyron. Man, what a competition." Dave remarked.


"Where's Mr. Kern?" Takanori asked.


"Oh. He's currently at the Nordschleife... capturing footage using the car." Nigel replied.



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"What a madman. Nurburgring on wet is basically a death sentence. I haven't even driven there yet." Dave said.


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"No wonder there was one set of Intermediates taken out." Takuma said.


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"The 5th round shall take place at the full Nurburgring track, using the 24 Hour layout. The circuit part is actually safe, with plenty of run off areas mandated by FIA since Formula 1 cars race there. The Nordschleife, on the other hand..." Nigel said.


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"It's a death trap. I'm even surprised a 24 Hour race commences there. rain or shine." Dave said.


"Well, that's what tradition dictates. But there were instances that event got delayed due to poor visibility. However, if current conditions are to be relied upon, the visibility is tolerable." Nigel explained.


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"Fortunately, we have a sim. Actually, it's Kevin's sim..." Takuma said.


"We can use that to familiarize yourselves." Nigel said.


"Yeah, but, a video game is completely different from the real experience." Dave said.


"This is a common practice even among Formula 1 teams and drivers to familiarize themselves on the track at the comfort of their homes. With Mr. Kern's track footage, it will prove to be valuable for us." Nigel said.


"And use the sim to gauge yourself, Dave." Takuma said.


"Man, I am still amazed at this place. This was only a dream when I was trying to build my own crew. I know how much full sim rigs cost, and that already set me back." Dave said.


"Now, you can play all night. I miss Kevin's endurance sessions on Twitch." Takanori said.




*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Nurburgring
Time: 3 pm; two days later




With inclement weather conditions persisting, the committee decided that the qualifying be postponed, and the race proper shall commence. The grid positions are based from the 4th round's results, as planned.



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Neo starts at 4th. Dave feels a mixture of anxiety and determination. He spent several hours on the sim practicing the track on wet conditions, even watching Gerhard's run multiple times as comparison.

The final round will consist of 8 laps. The audience cheer wildly as the light shows green. The cars set off with utmost of care even in a rolling start.


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"Those three again. Argh.. And eight laps may sound long on a track like this, but..."



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"...one wrong move, and I am dead!" Dave said.





Anxiety within Dave is in an all-time high. Who shall prevail in this dangerous final round?





End of Page 16





 
Page 17 - Pointers



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The World Touring Car Championship shall definitely end with a bang, with the rain and the Nurburgring being the deadliest combination in the entirety of motorsports.



Just high above the audience bleachers, sheltered by an airconditioned hall overlooking the main straight of the Grand Prix track, is where Noel Chevalier stands watch.

He strokes his beard, grinning on the fact that the audience numbers have significantly increased.


"People do love entertainment.."


And that grin suddenly stopped.


"But sadly that's all there is to it." Noel said.



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Dave can only watch the Giulia defending its spot against the Veyron. But clearly the Bugatti has the advantage on the wet.


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"Four wheel drive cars are cheats. No wonder the highest level of racing events shun them. But there's no excuse..." Dave thought.



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Dave lunges at the high speed kink, narrowing the gap between him and Giacomo's Giulia.


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And now there's the tall order on catching Alphonse Blanchard.



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Dave breathes out a sigh.



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"Mr. Kern gave me pointers on how to tackle this track. And I did all of them on the sim on the same conditions." Dave thought.



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He then reminisces on Gerhard's advice.


"Take this into heart, Mr. Lempel. Your life is at stake whenever you race at the Nordschleife."




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"The last thing you'll ever be is being irrational. Especially on the wet. I know that this is your first time, and the fact that it's raining makes it even scarier."



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"Be gentle on your inputs. Forget going all out. Even your opponents will slow down there.


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However, as Dave tries to put the power down earlier in the exit, the AMG loses control, and his attempts on correction sets him off the track.


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"Crap!" Dave exclaimed.


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While he safely got out of the predicament, the gap has widened and the others caught up with him.



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"The most important thing is.... just stay alive. I want my drivers to be okay. I do not instill unnecessary pressure on everyone. I'd rather have a laughingstock than a dead driver."


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"Guess he really wanted me to calm down. I have been too eager lately." Dave thought, as he comes up with that realization upon remembering his past races.


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Seems that the pointers paid off. Dave is even surprised he managed to keep up.



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"Got you now, kid. Well... you're 17. But still, kudos for making it this far." Dave said.


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He finally gets the top position at the mini-Karussell. But remember, this is just the first lap...



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....and anything can happen in mere moments. The straight was obviously the Veyron's greatest strength, and it easily took back the lead.


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The second lap begins, and it's back to the square one for Dave.



"All right then. Let's play again, kiddo!" Dave exclaimed.



Gerhard hears this over the radio.



"Please calm down, Mr. Lempel. Now's not the time to be brash. We are on the second lap." Gerhard said.




"Copy. But hey, the fun is about to start." Dave replied with a grin on his face.


End of Page 17
 
Page 18 - Andiamo


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The 2nd lap begins, with the Veyron showing obvious dominance on severe weather conditions.


However, that isn't only Dave's problem.


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Giacomo Marelli also guns for the victory, in order to clinch at least to second place overall.


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Gerhard opens up the radio.


"The Giulia is right behind you." Gerhard said.

"Copy." Dave replied.


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"I've got two problems to deal with. Man, Europe is way more fun than I thought!" Dave said.


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"Thank you for such comments." Gerhard replied.


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An eager Giacomo simply won't give up on the tow.


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"I'll be on the top, I swear." Giacomo said.



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The pressure is on.


Then Giacomo slams hard on the accelerator the moment he sees the AMG slow down on that light bend.



Music: Blue Owl (Remastered) - Art of Trance


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"You're too hesitant!" Giacomo exclaimed.



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"You've got balls making that pass, dude." Dave remarked.


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Third lap. Dave can only spectate the bout the between the Italian and French racers.


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"Do Italy and France have an intense motorsports rivalry? They make awesome food, though." Dave thought.



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"ANDIAMO!!!" Giacomo yelled as finally snatches the lead.


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Gerhard looks at the weather radar. No precipitation is detected anymore.


"Dave, the rain has stopped. I suggest you box." Gerhard said.


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Dave does notice a little bit of ease on keeping the car in check.


Nürburgring 24h__17.jpeg



"Confirm. Box. Box for softs." Dave said.


"Softs? But the track still has large patches of water." Gerhard asked.


"Please trust me on this. I have a plan." Dave replied.


"Okay. Confirm box. Change to Softs." Gerhard said.




Nürburgring 24h__18.jpeg




The pit crew is now outside, with a fresh batch of Soft slick tires. However, the two opponents ahead of him chose not to pit in.



Nürburgring 24h__19.jpeg



Being a former F1 pit crew, the tires are changed in mere seconds, and then the AMG gets helpings of fuel as well.



The AMG scurries off the pit lane, with Dave tightening his grip on the steering wheel. The 4th lap commences.



"All right, time to play." Dave said.





End of Page 18
 
Last edited:
Page 19 - Wet & Wild





Upon seeing the AMG set off the pit lane with a new set of Soft slicks and fuel, Takanori is left wondering with Dave's decision. He approaches Gerhard.



"Mr. Kern, why did he switch to Softs? The surface is still a little wet. Normally, you'd keep the Inters."


Nürburgring 24h_.jpeg



Gerhard giggles at the inquiry.


"Heh heh. You know, it's actually a common strategy in Formula 1." Gerhard replied.



Nürburgring 24h__1.jpeg


"How? Normally we tend to switch to Intermediates once the rain stops. But why go directly to slicks?" Takanori asked.

"It depends on the road surface conditions. Plus, it is some sort of a... "gift", to be able to accurately feel the grip of each tire. Dave takes advantage of the damp track, since the temperatures are relatively cold."



Nürburgring 24h__2.jpeg

"Of course, initial drawbacks are present. For one, you can't use the full grip of the tires; and secondly, you have to avoid touching the wetter parts of the track, worse if it's part of the racing line."



"However, this means that he is CONSERVING his tires, and he can use them to the fullest once the track's surface gets drier." Gerhard explained.



Nürburgring 24h__3.jpeg



Meanwhile, Alphonse is given a breathing room, now that he's on the lead. But at the same time he can't let up.



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As time passes, more water evaporates from the track, allowing Dave to use a bit more of the tire grip.


"All right, I can see them. I'm on the right track. My plan worked." Dave thought.



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The Giulia still keeps a commanding lead. But Giacomo knows that he can't use Intermediates for long.


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And so he did...



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...along with Alphonse as well.


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"Dave, now's your chance. Giulia and Veyron have boxed in." Gerhard said.


"All right, time to turn up the heat." Dave said, as he steps harder on the accelerator.



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"You have finally gotten the lead, Dave." Gerhard said.


"Awesome! I'll take this home, guys." Dave replied.



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Charlie has also changed to Softs the same lap as Dave's. With the drying up track, he too, makes the charge at 2nd place.




However, the battle is far from over. Giacomo also opted for Soft compounds.


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Dave is surprised by the Giulia's sudden appearance from behind.


"Wow... can a Giulia be that fast? I've seen a few in the States and normally they're family runabouts." Dave wondered.



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"Come on, Pasta Boy!" Dave teased.


As if answering in kind, Giacomo charges.



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But Dave gets the inside on the hairpin.



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"Gotcha now. Hehe." Dave said.



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"Oh you want to play? I'll play, amico mio." Giacomo said with a grin.



Giacomo instills pressure on to Dave.


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In which Dave fell for it, since he got in the turn too fast which made the slick tires touch the wet kerb.



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"Shoot!" Dave exclaimed.


"Keep calm. There are still chances left." Gerhard replied.



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"Okay, dude. I guess playtime is over." Dave said.








End of Page 19
 
Page 20 - The Sunrise


Nürburgring 24h_.jpeg



Dave has ceased his playfulness. The Giulia once again took the lead, but there are other problems.


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Charlie Kesler is also gunning for the win. He is a few car lengths away from Dave.



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With the surface mostly dry, Dave opens up on the throttle more aggressively on the corner exits.


However...



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...his eagerness got the better of him, as the AMG once again touches the puddles on the ends, causing it to understeer.


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"Dammit!" Dave exclaimed.


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Charlie makes a safe overtake, taking the 2nd spot.


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"I guess I've teased them enough." Dave said.


Meanwhile, Alphonse is making a steady pace keeping up.


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And Giacomo spreading the gap even further.


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6th lap... the crowd can't help but wonder who will truly win as the tides of battle constantly change.


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"Dave, how are the tires?" Gerhard asked.

"I can use them properly, but the Giulia is the real problem." Dave responded.


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"Two laps to go." Dave said.


"Focus on finishing the race, Dave. A good start for your career doesn't always have to be in first." Gerhard said.



Nürburgring 24h__12.jpeg



Having taken off a bit of pressure away, Dave maintains his pace to make sure his tires are still in fighting form for the final lap.


"Thank you, Mr. Kern... I thought you would always be stern and all; but I am happy to be proven wrong." Dave thought.


Nürburgring 24h__13.jpeg



On Alphonse's end, the three cars are within striking distance.



"Magnifique. The tires are ready." Alphonse thought.

Louis then asks Alphonse.


"How is the car?" Louis asked.

"New set of tires feel great. The rivals are within reach." Alphonse replied.


7th lap. Dave still awaits for the perfect opportunity to strike.


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And Alphonse has finally joined the train.


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Dave immediately notices Alphonse, and it is now time to be on the defensive.



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But once again, the Veyron's traction is unmatched, easily taking the spot away from Dave.



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"Too late, but I gotta move too." Dave said.


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Alphonse makes an attack on Charlie.



"You want to play, mon ami?" Alphonse said.



Nürburgring 24h__19.jpeg



And Charlie also gets on the defensive.


"I can no longer let myself be stomped by you. This is beyond karting now!" Charlie exclaimed.


Dave observes the two going on each others' throats.


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"Oh right. Weren't the two rivals on the karting stage? I remember watching those two going head-to-head in karting events back home." Dave remarked.



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Despite being muffled by air restrictors and ECU tuning, the W16 engine still shows its might on the back straight.


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However, as if it's a twist on fate, Charlie's C8 is limping on its right front tire.


"Argh! Dammit! The front right tire is kaput!" Charlie said.



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He now has no choice but to box in and make a quick switch.


"This isn't over." Charlie said, as he looks at the fleeting image of the Veyron.



The final lap, Dave secures 3rd place. The track has fully dried up.


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And the Giulia's lead is definitely locked in. Giacomo feels nothing but euphoria.


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While Dave resigns to this current position.


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"I think this race is done. Bravo to all. My time here in Europe is superb. I wanna stay here, to be honest." Dave said.



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"The racing world is truly filled with exceptional talents. I am glad to have ventured out." Dave said.


The checkered flag is waved. Mistral Motorsports takes the win at the final round of the World Touring Car Championship. The pit crew is in a celebratory mood.


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But with Alphonse taking the 2nd place, his championship title is secured, with the most points earned in the tournament.


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Alphonse is exclaiming over the radio.


"WE DID IT! Championship won! GREAT JOB, EVERYONE!" Alphonse exclaimed, with tears coming out.


Louis is clapping his hands.


"Exceptional job, Alphonse. Dinner's on me." Louis said.




Nürburgring 24h__30.jpeg



Neo takes the third place. But with Giacomo's victory in this round, the team is placed down to third with 35 points, now 1 point shy of Mistral Motorsport's 36.



Gerhard applauds to the entire team.



"Valiant efforts, everyone. This is a good start for our new team. We will strive harder for the races ahead." Gerhard said.





In the victory celebrations, Alphonse is approached by his grandparents - Jacques and Soiree - who traveled all the way from France to watch him. They hug him tight, with Alphonse in tears of joy.



"I did it. I won. But this is just the beginning." Alphonse said.


"You are always our winner, Alphonse." Soiree said.


"Grandmère, I will still hold on to my promise. I will win my first Formula 1 race. I will work hard to achieve that." Alphonse said.



Meanwhile, in Neo's garage, the whole team get together for a photo op, with Dave crouching in the middle beside the bronze trophy.


With the photo taken, Takanori gives a brotherly hug to Dave.


"Congrats. This is a great start for your career." Takanori said.


"Thanks to everyone in this team. I thought all hope was lost ever since Maximilian took everything from me, and even worse, when I got in jail. But second chances DO exist, huh? In that case, this is one heck of a second chance." Dave replied.


Gerhard looks at Dave with a smile, and the two shake hands.


"Impressive performance, Mr. Lempel. Kevin would definitely be proud of you." Gerhard said.


"Thank you, sir. You gave me this second chance. I was reckless, but you never gave up." Dave said.


"Expect more opportunities coming, young man. You have definitely done more than enough to clear your name." Gerhard said.


The sun beams down on Neo's garage. Gerhard heads outside, and looks up at the clear sky.



"Kevin, you kept shining your light on us. Thank you. And I miss you so much. We will keep on fighting. A new era begins now." Gerhard said as he basks himself under the warm glow.



End of Page 20




AUTHOR'S NOTES:




- Next page will be the final page of this story arc.








 
Page 21 - Next Big Steps

Location: Neo Headquarters, Nurburg, Germany
Time: 9 am, two weeks later


The team's overall result is more than satisfactory for Gerhard. This doesn't mean that he settles for the second best, however. They have spent two weeks analyzing telemetry data and organized meetings left and right what things can be improved upon.

The monetary reward they received is more than enough for the development of their future cars. And of course, the drivers enjoy their much-deserved respite. The Kanonji Twins return to their respective homes.

One day, Abel is in his own building dedicated for open cockpit racing. He still runs the Formula division, but it had gone under hiatus due to Kevin's health condition and the fact that Abel had to pour his efforts in Neo's first ever championship stint.

With the tournament concluded, he can finally return his focus - and with the Kanonji Twins' intent on joining the now-global Super Formula series, he is observing the newly-delivered Mercedes-AMG Super Formula W23 - AMG's first foray to the Super Formula tournament, with their own engine powering the car instead of the usual Toyota or Honda unit, albeit Dallara still providing the chassis as per the rules.

Dave is strolling around the complex to curb his boredom, but he got curious when he saw that building with the lights on.

"Huh? That building is usually left untouched. Who's inside?" Dave asked himself.

And so he gets in to sate his curiosity.

He sees Abel, and he waves his hand to get his attention.

"Uh... hey, Mr. Abel Kern." Dave called.

Abel turns toward Dave.

"Oh hello there, Mr. Lempel. Sorry, I am just inspecting our new Super Formula."

Dave goes around the open cockpit race machine, and is astounded by the shining silver paint contrasted by matte decals.

"Super Formula? Isn't that Formula 1?" Dave asked.

"Well, it actually sits between F2 and F1. It is faster than an F2, but slower than an F1." Abel replied.

"Oh, in-between? I have heard that this has gone global." Dave said.

"That is correct. In order to provide more opportunities for drivers yearning to get into F1, the FIA decided to make the Super Formula series into a global competition. And of course to gain more revenue..." Abel explained.


S_Company East_.jpeg



"And the Super Formula has less gadgets - no DRS, no MGU-K, no MGU-H. Although it does have a push-to-pass boost system." he added.

Dave rubs his chin upon hearing this information.

"So it's as raw as it can be, huh?" Dave said.

But before Abel can reply, someone joins them. A familiar face.

"Oh, Mr. Kiehl Muller! I'm glad to see you made it." Abel said, as he shakes hands with the German racer.

"I thought I wasn't able to. But thankfully my other commitment got cancelled at the last minute." Kiehl said.

"Well, as promised, here is your car." Abel said, as he guides Kiehl near the formula race car.

"He's going to...?" Dave asked.

"Ah, pardon me, Dave. By the way, Kiehl, here is Dave Lempel, a new racer in our ranks who just managed to grab us our third place overall." Abel said.

Kiehl looks at Dave and then proceed to do handshakes.

"Yes, I have heard of him. You did a wonderful job. Congratulations." Kiehl said.

"Appreciate it." Dave replied.

"Well, as you now know, Kiehl Muller will be our representative for the Super Formula series. Although, we still need another driver to finalize our participation." Abel said.

Then the two German men stare at Dave.

"Me? You... want me to take part?" Dave asked.

"Well, you do have the potential, young man. This is a great boost for your career. The Super Formula is seen as a gateway not just for F1, but also in other major leagues. Are you interested?" Abel replied.

Dave clears his throat. He then crosses his arms and gives the offer a thought.

"Well, guys, to be honest, I still have yet to reach on that level. Sure, I may have an impressive start here in this team, but I think I have to put in more experience first before I can get behind the helm of that thing.

And what's more, I have decided to return to the States to settle some things there. Tie up loose ends. I can't commit when my heart isn't really on it. So... I appreciate the offer, but I have to pass on it first." Dave replied.

"No problem at all. And you are right, your heart must be really into it when you are doing a life-changing decision. Plus, we can wait. Pre-season testing can begin, but the actual championship is slated for next year. So, that means you have abundant time to finish what you need to settle." Abel said.

"But don't take too long, either." Kiehl added.

"I won't. I'll be back before you know it." Dave said with a grin.


********************************************************************************************************************

Location: Blanchard residence, Marseille, France
Time: 1 pm, the next day



In the coastal city of Marseille, the sun shines to give vibrancy to the commune. Marseille is also within the proximity of Circuit Paul Ricard and Monaco, two places that are heavily associated with Formula 1; something that Alphonse dreams to race one day.


As he waters the flowers in the backyard of his grandparents' residence, he is then summoned by his grandfather, Jacques.


"Alphonse, Monsieur Montagny wants to see you." Jacques said.


The young man places the hose on the grass, then turns off the faucet. He then goes back in the house, greeted by Louis.

"Oh bonjour, Monsieur..." Alphonse greeted.

"How's our champion? Hehehe." Louis said.

"Still having this hangover. Hehe. Well, we have bought a glass cabinet for trophies." Alphonse replied.

"Nice. That's good, since you have more opportunities awaiting. I came here to ask if you are available. I'll take you somewhere special." Louis said.

"Uh... well..." Alphonse said.

"It's okay. You can take him. Jacques said.

"Are you sure, grandpère? Will you both be okay?" Alphonse asked.

"Ah, don't undermine us. We are still strong. Go, you have to hang out with a friend sometime." Jacques said.

"Let's go, then?" Louis said.

Alphonse nods. He then heads upstairs to gather his things while Louis waits in the living area.

"You are such a kind man. We can't thank you enough for everything you've done for Alphonse." Jacques said.

"It's the least I can do for him. But right now, I am still looking for...." Louis said.

But Jacques interrupts.
"Don't waste your time on that. Please focus on our grandson's racing." Jacques said.

Alphonse finally descends the staircase with his grandmother, Soiree. She then puts some snacks in Alphonse's knapsack and zips it shut.

"Don't forget to eat some when you're hungry, okay?" Soiree said.

"Okay. Thank you. Let's go." Alphonse said with a smile. The two men head out, and enter Louis' Bugatti Chiron.

While traveling, Alphonse looks at the meadows, a sign that they are outside the city.

"Where are we going?" Alphonse asked.

"Somewhere just nearby, in a Renault facility." Louis replied.

"Renault?" Alphonse said.

"Yes. There is something special in store for you. You will LOVE it." Louis said with a smile.


Half an hour later, they arrive at the said facility. This is just one among Renault's car storage facilities. But the location for the meeting is special is due to the proximity within Alphonse's residence.

The two men finally meet up with Renault's executives - Andre and Gabriel - who then lead them to a garage.

They stopped, and finally presented three racing cars adorned with blue and pink liveries right in front of Alphonse. The young French racer
immediately feels delight, with his smile gotten larger.



Pit Garage_.jpeg



"Alphonse Blanchard, we have observed countless potential drivers as of late, and your victory have made us amazed the most. Hence why, we are offering you a wonderful opportunity to race for Alpine BWT in various discplines." Andre explained.

But Alphonse is too delighted to even respond.
"Oh... sorry. I'm just taking this all in. Wow!" Alphonse exclaimed.


He sets his eyes on the Super Formula machine dubbed the Alpine SFA23. He goes around it appreciating the details.

"We believe you are the prime candidate to represent us and... turn our fortunes around. You can change the status quo." Gabriel said.

"That is right. But of course, the new Super Formula season will begin next year. For now, you have to prove to us that you have what it takes." Andre said.

"We will call you occasionally for pre-season testing sessions for the Super Formula car, but most of the time, you will be racing the other two cars." Gabriel said.

"This is impressive! A chance to get into Formula 1! I will not let you down, guys. And thank you so much, Monsieur Montagny. I... don't know how to repay you." Alphonse said.

"Ahahahahaha! You don't have to worry about that, mon ami. All you need to do is focus on your future. That is all I am asking." Louis said.

Alphonse takes another time to look at the three racing cars that he will drive. He then smiles and turns his attention to the executives.
"I'm game. I'll take on the next challenge." Alphonse said.

Gabriel shakes Alphonse's hand.

"Welcome aboard." Gabriel said.


*********************************************************************************************************************
Location: Milan, Italy
Time: 7 pm



Meanwhile, in the evening, a plaza in Milan is closed off, attracting the attention of the locals and even the tourists. They see red trailer trucks parked in one of the entrances, with two veiled low slung machines being pushed out to the center.

Special guests have been allowed access, but it turns out it's a Ferrari unveiling event. They wear in their best suits and gowns.

One of them of course, is Giacomo Marelli, who is still over the moon from his success in the World Touring Car championship. He wears a tailor made suit and vest with matching black slacks and loafers. His gelled back hair completes his appearance.


Joining him is none other than Pietro Guidicelli. The two men look at the photographers and reporters.


"I guess this is how Ferrari rolls..." Giacomo said.

"They are extravagant as always. Do not be surprised anymore." Pietro replied.


Then a man named Luca goes to the center stage, with microphone on hand to make an official announcement. Behind him are two female models wearing evening burgundy gowns holding the veils of each car.


"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight you are about to witness another history in the making for Ferrari. For the first time in its 75-year history, we are setting foot in another formula category, providing opportunities for aspiring Formula 1 drivers."


"Without further adieu, let me introduce to you our latest project." Luca said, as he makes a cue for the two ladies to pull off the veils.

The audience applauds upon seeing the two new Ferrari Super Formula machines, adorned in the traditional Rosso Scuderia paint similar to their Formula 1 machines, along with their new sponsor, HP.


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II_.jpeg



"We present to you, the Ferrari La Super Formula. Made possible with the collaboration of Dallara." Luca said.


"And of course, our distinguished individuals who will pilot them to victory. Mr. Giacomo Marelli driving the number 40 car, and Mr. Pietro Guidicelli driving the number 45 car." Luca said, as the two men join him.



Camera flashes intensify as the photographers want to get the best shots of the cars and drivers.


*********************************************************************************************************************
Location: Red Bull Ring, Austria
Time: 12 pm, one week later



The famous Red Bull Ring in Austria, host of the Austrian Grand Prix of Formula 1 and has been a staple in the championship.
But right now, there are no F1 machines tearing up...



Red Bull Ring_.jpeg



....as there are only two Red Bull Racing SF2.0 machines having a practice run.


One driver leading the run is a Spaniard named Cesar Vasquez.


Red Bull Ring__1.jpeg


He hails from Barcelona, and has a Belgian wife named Charlotte and a five-year old daughter named Angelica watching him from the pit garage.
Cesar is a two-time Super Formula champion, and was once offered a seat in Formula 1, but he has declined it ever since.


And the one chasing him from behind is none other than Ben Kanonji.


Red Bull Ring__2.jpeg



"Wow..." Ben said as he can't process Cesar's speed.



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Ben would flail at the sharp Turn 3.


While Cesar makes mincemeat of the corners.



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He would then communnicate with Ben over the radio.


"What's wrong, amigo? You're hungry?" Cesar asked.



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"I'm fine. Just getting used to this... thing." Ben replied.



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"Hey, don't push yourself too much. Didn't your father tell you that? Hey, let's take a break." Cesar said.

"Yeah, maybe I am hungry." Ben replied.



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Ben would keep up...


...only because Cesar decreased his pace.



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From the side mirrors, Cesar would notice some wiggling made by Ben's car.


Red Bull Ring__9.jpeg



"Yeah. You're definitely hungry. My specialty jamón is your weakness. Don't worry, I brought lots today." Cesar said.


"YEAHHH!" Ben exclaimed upon hearing that news.


"I knew it. You really are my bumbling first-born. Hehe." Cesar said in jest.


Red Bull Ring__10.jpeg


The two cars enter the pit lane and then to their respective pit garages. As Ben takes off his helmet and balaclava, Angelica runs up to him, and as if it's a muscle memory for Ben, he carries her on his back.


"Tio Ben! Eeew you're sweaty! Hahaha!" Angelica said.


"Aha, what have I told you? Ben is your big brother. He's your hermano. Tio Ben is reserved only for hombre araña, okay?" Cesar said.


Cesar views Ben as part of his family, as the two got close during Ben's early days in Super Formula. Add to the fact that Cesar is also a fellow Protege of the late Sir Ben McCarthy, he has a huge respect for Takuma and owes him a lot as well, and that would lead for the Spaniard to have a special bond with Takuma's adoptive son.


Charlotte opens up the container revealing Cesar's special jamón. Each slice contains a decent amount of fat sprinkled with black peppers. Ben takes at least four slices and puts them on a small plate. He gets one and takes a bite.


"Mmmmmm.... I love this succulence." Ben said.

"That's 100 Euros per slice." Cesar said.

"WHAT?!" Ben exclaimed.


"Just kidding. Start eating now." Cesar said.


As the family help themselves with Cesar's cooking, one of the crew approaches them, specifically their chief mechanic for the Super Formula division, named Gregory Thames.


"Gentlemen, mind if I bother you for a bit?" Gregory asked.

"Why?" Cesar asked.

"Someone wants to see Mr. Benjamin Kanonji." Gregory replied.

Ben takes a drink from the cold bottle of water.


"Me? Who?" Ben asked.


"Please follow me." Gregory said.


Both Cesar and Ben follow Gregory. And then they stopped, making eye contact with someone who wishes to meet Benjamin.


Upon seeing the person in question, Cesar shows a grin, while Ben shows a big smile. He then reaches out his hand, shaking hands with the mysterious person.


"Heh." Cesar said.



Ben would then utter, "It's an honor to have finally met you..."









"....Mr. Verstappen."






THE END


AUTHOR'S NOTES:


- Next story arc will be about Alphonse's perspective on the World Touring Car Championship - titled "The Zephyr". This will also clear up the mystery as to why he uses the number "17" which is used by Louis Montagny.

- The next arc shall start on Saturday.




 
Last edited:
Home Straight_.jpeg



THE ZEPHYR


A rising new star in racing, 17-year old French racer named Alphonse Blanchard graduates from the world of karting.
He now moves on to a much bigger arena - the global stage with much faster machinery. His pursuit to achieve his goal of entering Formula 1 begins now.




Timeline: Set before and during the events of Neo.



Act 1: The Transition


Bonjour! Mon prénom est Alphonse Blanchard.

Don't worry, I'll relay to you in English.

Ah, mon dieu! I have to focus! I have a race to win!



Dragon Trail - Gardens_.jpeg


Well, I have to start somewhere. Everyone does.

I am a two-time world karting champion. I started racing go-karts at a little late, at age 10. But over those seven years, I amassed podium finishes... in every race.


Dragon Trail - Gardens__1.jpeg


All of those were possible thanks to the guidance of Monsieur Louis Montagny, and of course, my grandparents Jacques and Soiree. Those three are the most important people in my life.

Oui, just those three.


I have no parents. My mother died giving birth to me; and my father? Completely no idea who he is. But I don't really care. He must have his reasons. I hold no interest in getting to know him.


Dragon Trail - Gardens__2.jpeg


My focus is on Formula 1. Yes, Formula 1.

Big dream, right?


Well, I got into this chaotic world of speed the day my grandparents brought me to see a Formula 1 race at Circuit Paul Ricard. It was my 9th birthday. That race was a birthday gift to me. I vividly remember those blazingly fast F1 machines clocking over 300 kilometers per hour passing by like mere flashes.

And then, just like that. I got hooked. Ever since then, I watch Formula 1 races every weekend on television. Of course we couldn't afford to just travel and watch the action in the flesh; so the TV would suffice. Every race weekends, my grandparents would call me to the living room, as the F1 race would begin. It doesn't matter if I was in a middle of homework or school project. I HAD TO WATCH ONE.


Then an opportunity came along. A relative of Jacques came over one Sunday, and he knew that I am a Formula 1 fan. And then...


...he offered me to enroll on a karting school, ran by none other than Monsieur Louis Montagny himself. I was so delighted to hear that, that I missed the moment who won that race.


Dragon Trail - Gardens__3.jpeg


I won again today. Hehe.


I want to not just stand alongside the legends like Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, or Lewis Hamilton; but also race against them.

But you know... with currently where I am, that might be just a dream.

But still...


...I'll enter Formula 1, no matter what.


Oh, today's race is my last stint in karting. Monsieur Montagny told me that I have "graduated" from karting; and he will give me an opportunity.

What is that?

Before that can be answered, a victory ceremony is in order. Once again, I get a gold trophy. But I will miss racing the others. My karting mates and I have a group hug.

And then my grandparents came, and also hug me tight.



"Congratulations! You will always be our winner." said Jacques.



"Are you hungry? You can pick where do you want to eat for lunch." Soiree said.


I replied, "I am craving for beef bourguignon."


Racing can leave you really hungry. And I prefer home cooking over restaurant or fast food. My grandmother knows how to cook beef bourguignon.

Soiree replied, "I knew it. Well, let's go home. I believe Mister Montagny is also on his way."


And we left the track, with all our faces smiling. I think I couldn't ask for more. I have the love and support of my grandparents, and with the guidance of Monsieur Montagny.




********************************************************************************************************



Just an hour later, we arrived home in Marseilles. And at our doorstep is my mentor, leaning on his shiny blue Bugatti Chiron.

He would then approach me, and in a typical brotherly gesture, he messed up my hair and then hugged me.



"Well done! I think you can even do it with your eyes closed." Louis said.


I then replied, "Honestly, I almost fell asleep on that race."


Big words, huh? Well, as we enter the home, my grandmother heads off to the kitchen to prepare the dish.

The three of us would sit at the dining table. Monsieur would shower me with praises, and then he would get serious.

I think he is now ready to reveal this "grand opportunity".




"I have received racing invitations. This time, he will stop karting. But he will be driving much faster cars. There will be a race next weekend in which he will try out a touring car. If it all goes well, then he will proceed to the World Touring Car Championship. I believe he has the potential." Louis explained.


Much faster cars? What does he mean? Will he just slam me into a Formula 1 car? That's... too fast.

I then asked: "Faster cars? Like racing cars?"


Louis replied, "Yes, and it will be a surprise".



Monsieur has the penchant for keeping me in the dark and just surprise me. I'm already dead with suspense.

He added, "Tomorrow, you will see the car."


Oh great. Another suspense. He can already direct a thriller movie or something.

My grandfather nods to everything Monsieur said. I think there's no need for an approval for that...



"Don't worry. I will take care of Alphonse. Everything is taken care of." Louis said.

"Thank you for helping him achieve his dreams." Jacques said.



There we go again, getting emotional. I am already aware that part of racing is being home away from home. My grandparents have already prepared for that possibility. However they can't help but feel sad... that I'm parting ways from them again, but this time around, I am all over the world for a longer period of time.


I am ready...


...to take on the world.



**********************************************************************************************



The next day, Monsieur and I head to the Blue Streak Headquarters in St. Croix. We didn't leave the house without drama, of course.

I tearfully said my goodbyes to my grandparents. But they assured me that they'll watch my races. What matters to me most is that they are okay and healthy in my absence.

The only thing I am asking from them, is that...


...they have to witness my first ever Formula 1 race. I want to see them achieve my dream.
If it's on Paul Ricard, then it's much better.



Upon arriving, he wasted no time leading me to the next car I'm driving.

Lo and behold...



Pit Garage_.jpeg


....a Bugatti Veyron.

Wow... am I supposed to handle a car with over a thousand horsepower?


I then asked, "Doesn't this car have one thousand horsepower?"

Louis replied, "No. This car has five hundred horsepower."

"But why? Why is it lower?" I asked.

Louis replied, "Because we have to play fair. However, in the World Touring Car Championship, this will have more power."





Makes sense, actually. A Veyron almost has a pace of a Formula 1 car on the straights. But since we are talking about touring cars here, they might as well rein it in.



The rest of the week was spent on getting to know the car. And it drives nice, actually. Very stable through the turns.


Then the weekend came.



We proceeded to the Deep Forest Raceway in Switzerland. It's a single race that Blue Streak was invited to. To everyone's surprise, I am the one driving, not Monsieur.


And there are talks among the other teams that his decision is ridiculous. I am too young to handle a touring car, bla bla bla.


I have to prove them wrong. I am not a two-time world karting champion for nothing.



Deep Forest Raceway_.jpeg



Over the radio, Louis said: "Win this race, and more sponsors will come to us for the WTCC. And it's the perfect opportunity for you to show that you have graduated from karting."


"Copy." I replied.




Three... two... one...


...It's lights out and away we go.


The Veyron is a 4WD, so naturally launching it is not a problem.


Deep Forest Raceway__1.jpeg



17 year-old drivers or even younger competing in motorsports is nothing new. Why are people still surprised by that? Do they expect us to have a driving license first before we race? I already have a provisional racing license and I still can't legally drive... until next year, that is.


No use musing on that. I got to focus.



Deep Forest Raceway__2.jpeg



What's wrong? Can't believe a teenager in a Veyron is faster than you? Heh.


Deep Forest Raceway__3.jpeg



But the experience... it's way different. This is a much tougher atmosphere. I can already feel the tension. It's more unforgiving.

And the fact that I am driving something 5 times more power than a shifter kart.


Deep Forest Raceway__4.jpeg



A Veyron is nothing like a go-kart. It's less twitchy. I don't have to worry about losing control just because of a tiny error in steering.



Deep Forest Raceway__5.jpeg



That means I can attack at any time.



Deep Forest Raceway__6.jpeg


I am taking a different path... but in the end I'll land in the same goal.



Deep Forest Raceway__7.jpeg



And that's fine by me. Maybe it's time to learn other disciplines after all. Maybe Monsieur Montagny has a special plan for me.





End of Act 1



AUTHOR'S NOTES:


- Moving forward, I shall now call entries as "Acts" instead of "Pages".









 
Last edited:
Act 2: The World



I ended up winning the race. All I see are shocked faces. Hehe.

I like it when I break the status quo, defy the conventions...

Change is always constant. It's no longer surprising that more and more younger individuals are achieving success.


I called my grandparents after this. I make it a point to call them before and after a race, to make sure that they won't worry about me.


Sigh.... it will be a long time before I can see them again. But I have to be prepared for this. I'm no longer a kid. I have to get used to be apart from my loved ones.


Monsieur Louis is happy with the result. At least we shut up those naysayers.



We returned to the HQ by midnight. It's a long trip from Switzerland, but I'm used to long drives, particularly when Monsieur does it. He's so smooth behind the wheel, yet a beast when he is on the track. I remember the day when I first rode in his Chiron and took it for a spin around Circuit Paul Ricard. At that time, I was terrified on how fast it was, like I'm inches close to death.

But he merely laughed it off. He told me that if I were to be an F1 driver, then I have to get used to this roller coaster.


I got off from the car, and then I observe the truck parking in the giant garage, unloading the Veyron. The crew are hard at work even at this witching hour. I am tired. Happy, but fatigued. And so he led me to my sleeping quarters. It's actually better than my room back home.

And what is that on the corner? A simulation rig with three monitors? Like, I can play a racing game with the steering wheel and pedals? There's even a manual transmission shifter!


"You like this room? You can also practice driving in your free time." Louis said.


"Oui, Monsieur. This is great. I think I will spend countless hours honing my skills here. But of course it's different when I drive the actual cars." I said.

"That is true. But simulators are also helpful, especially when you create different racing scenarios and plan how to deal with them. And do you know that some F1 drivers practice on simulators on a DAILY basis?" Louis explained.

That proves my point about change. Traditional methods are bygone. Technology helps us progress better. The fact that you can practice racing at the comfort of your own home without risking damaging the real car is revolutionary. This saves a lot of money in testing.

"Well, I can see that you are sleepy. Do make yourself at home. Good night." Louis said.


"Good night." I replied.


*********************************************************************************************


The next day, I woke up late. Oh damn... it's 10 in the morning. I had a good sleep, though. That's the most important thing.

I took a shower and put on some new clothes.


I then took a stroll around. I am actually looking for Monsieur. I asked one of the cleaning staff, and he pointed me to the direction leading to the conference room.

As I enter, I see him looking very serious. He's watching something from his laptop. What could it be?

I knocked on the door to get his attention.


"Good morning, Monsieur." I said.


"Oh good morning. I'm just... watching this rather depressing announcement from Kevin Kern. This was recorded last night." Louis said.


Kevin Kern? And a depressing announcement? Oh...

You see, I am an avid follower of Mr. Kevin Kern's gaming streams. He puts up great entertainment in First Person Shooting games he plays in. I would join in his Call of Duty sessions, but I always end up getting floored. Hehe. He is that good. He plays racing games as well.

But why would it be depressing? I got closer into the laptop, and Monsieur rewinds the video, and then he played at this bombshell:


"I have been diagnosed with late stage Hodgkin's Lymphoma. But that really is the least of my worries. Because of that, I got hit with other kinds of diseases. I also have a tumor somewhere in my digestive system. I have stayed too quiet about this. I have been wearing wigs to cover up my chemotherapy, and even have to use some make up to keep up my appearance as a jolly, anime-loving guy with the passion for gaming and racing, and overall good time. I'm sure my teammates will be so shocked while they are watching this. I kept this to EVERYONE."


"Maybe you're wondering how and when I got this. Actually, I don't even know. I just got weak in the past few years, and initially I brushed it off until I lost consciousness in a convention in New York. Some of you saw it for sure. Then yeah, the doctor told me straight right onto my face. I. Am. Sick. But not the kind of sick that you can easily get over with."


"Then surely, just this comment right now. "Why are you still racing?" Well, simple. I want to die doing what I loved. But I can't die yet until I finally achieved my goal. And I will cut straight right into it."



"You see, I simply won't allow myself to perish until I get justice. That's right. This whole livestreaming thing, the gaming, and all the racing... I have done them to get close to this justice that I seek."


"And to put a rumor to rest, yes, I have beef with one Maximilian Marsh. Where is he? Isn't he on Interpol's Red Notice? He attempted to kill my partner, Mila, and in the process she had a miscarriage. But that doesn't stop there. He is also responsible for arranging a hit on my father... DECADES AGO. I never got to meet him. He also approved to dispose of my mother, who was about to let the world know how rotten he truly is. Where are his critics? Gone. Either silenced, or God forbid, eliminated. I got proof right here."


Kevin then shows the same documents that Anita received.


"Let's just say one Good Samaritan sent these to me. All of these, including this little diary that the man wrote. Lemme just open it up and read one excerpt."




"Kevin Kern... he's here again. I saw him once more. Every time I see that man, he reminded me of the man I clashed with during my heyday.

He has the splitting image of Gerhard Kern.

Every time I see him...


...brings back the days that made me a loser. He always rubbed it on to me, that's he's one step ahead, no matter what I do.


His acts led to the eventual death of my father.

Of course I could not take it sitting down... so I did the one thing I still regret to this day:


DISPOSE OF HIM.


Until now, no one has ever known the true cause of Gerhard's death. It was me. I hired a man to make him go away. That man said the job was done, he cut off the brakes.


Whenever I see Kevin... those days come rushing back.


But my greatest fear of all...


...is that one day, he'll come rushing right in front of me, bashing a red helmet against my head."



"Are these the words you would expect from an honorable public figure? If he wants to defend himself and deny these accusations, why can't he come out and present evidence to the court? Testimonies of other families of racing drivers can also back me up. They have already aired out their sentiments."

"The FIA is rotten. Everyone in it is reeking of that foul stench of corruption. They can't cover it up with even the most glamorous of perfumes. But I do believe that it's not too late to clean it up."

"And as for you, Ms. Czarina Marsh. I know you are watching. The pressure is on once again. You'll never be able to evade the cries of justice. You may be the daughter, and you are never involved... but you know what you must do.

If you truly love your father, then the best option for him is to turn him in. I am pretty sure you know where he is. Do not coddle him any further. For your sake and the sake of millions of aspiring race car drivers...

....do the right thing. BRING HIM OUT."


"And as for me, I will use my last ounce of strength to fight until the very end. This disease drives me further. I won't let that stop me."

"And so... this caps off the session. I know that this is all too sudden. But it's better for me to let everything off my chest. This may be... no... will be my last livestream session. Thank you all to my sponsors who helped my throughout the years. I would also like to thank the entire cosplaying community for providing me countless hours of great moments that I will never forget. Oh, I will also be donating my costumes to you as well, You'll be spending hours on picking one, I guarantee you. Just go to the link that I'll be posting in the comments right now. And I also donated a total of 3 million US Dollars to various cancer foundations across the globe. I hope that should be enough to provide hope for those afflicted. I shall be spending the last days... or months... or hopefully a few years cherishing great moments with my racing team and the gaming and cosplaying communities."


Woah... I never knew that he's been afflicted with a disease for so long. And even worse, I was unaware that he is fighting to get justice.

I always see him as a happy person. We never really know what truly happens to a person behind the scenes.

In the video, he's even sobbing. I... can't even process this whole thing. I am feeling a surge of emotions too. The one person who I consider a friend from afar will soon disappear.

I am about to tear up, but I quickly rubbed my eyes when Monsieur turned his attention to me.


"Are you... okay?" Louis asked.

I replied, "Yes. But it's just all so sudden, isn't it?"


"I agree. I never knew that he went through a lot. My friends have raced him, and they said he is very skilled." Louis added.

"Do you think he'll race in the upcoming championship? I hope so. I want to race him for real, even if that will be his last."


"I'm sure he will. He's the type of person who never backs down. And when that day comes, you have to give your all." Louis replied.


********************************************************************************************************


The upgrades will take a while, so Monsieur decided to send me back home to Marseilles first.

For three weeks, I did the usual mundane things, like school, gardening, church... you know.

And then I was called back.


Wow...


National Stadium_.jpeg



More sponsor decals, a more intricate livery... and aero parts. Oh, and new wheels too.




"Wow..." I merely said.


"Just wow? Oh well.. you see, a lot of things were done to this car in order for it to be competitive. For one, the power is boosted to 600 horsepower, and the entire body is lightened. It weighs as much as family saloon now.



By the way, another trivia. Do you know that this is technically the last Veyron? This was meant to be delivered to a customer but the man bit the dust all of a sudden. Bugatti decided to return the deposit, keep the car... and then call me. I said, "why not convert it into a touring car? Could be a good use for it." And they happily agreed, knowing that I'll be driving it. And the rest is history." Louis explained.


"Amazing but also a sad story. And what kind of cars are racing against?" I asked.


"Most would be heavily modified cars. Regulations dictate that they have to be based on production vehicles." Louis replied.


"I see. When are we testing this?" I asked.

"Let's see... I reserved the whole track. In two days, we'll do it. The championship is not far off. We have to get going and familiarize ourselves with the car." Louis answered.


"And also..."


He showed me a list of participating teams and drivers. Great, I see Kevin Kern there, under Team Neo. But he also has a partner driver named David Lempel.
Wasn't he in jail a month ago?

As I peer further, I see another familiar name...


...Charlie Kesler.


The American karting expert. He also won the world karting championship, and we would often clash on the track. I personally don't like his mouth running around but he does have the skill.

Guess that would mean the championship will be more exciting, then.


"Kevin Kern is racing. I am impressed, he is fighting his disease. And Charlie... I bet you two will have a fun time." Louis said.


"I agree. Hopefully he keeps his mouth shut." I replied.


Two days later... we traveled to St. Croix Circuit for the testing. Monsieur apparently already tested the car while I was at home.


He gave me pointers on how to drive it since it has changed a lot.
And off we go...


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C_.jpeg


During the warm up lap, I was taken aback on how SHARP the car is. You wouldn't normally associate a Bugatti Veyron with handling or cornering prowess. But this one? Completely different car!

Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__1.jpeg



And definitely I can feel that there is 100 extra horsepower. It's still way below the power output of a regular Veyron, but the fact that it is much lighter...


...it might as well be just as rapid.


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__2.jpeg




Last time I drove this, I was struggling to tuck it in the apex. Not a problem anymore.


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__3.jpeg


People might say this will be unfair.
But here is the thing:


I've been dealt with worse cards before. Instead of complaining, I went around and put my effort to overcome it.
I started out with a 2nd hand go kart with some steering issues. I still got a podium finish.
I also got pushed off the track. Still got a podium finish at the final second.
Everything made in this world has their own pros and cons. We have to put in the work to overcome those.



Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__4.jpeg



I've put in more laps in this thing. The more I drive it, the more I am starting to fall in love with it.



Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__5.jpeg




I am now moving up to the world. I no longer go around the circles with tiny go-karts.



Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__6.jpeg



I am now driving faster machinery. This is the next step. I can no longer afford to go back.



Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__7.jpeg



Oh... wait... Monsieur Louis is on the radio.


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__8.jpeg





"Please enter the pit lane immediately, lunch is ready." Louis commanded.


"Copy." I replied.


I then let off the pace. Besides, I am starting to feel hungry.

I wonder what's for lunch?


As I enter the pit garage, I immediately took off my helmet and helped myself with a cold bottle of water.

Might as well straighten my mullet again. I think a haircut is in order.


Monsieur approached me.


"How's the car?" Louis asked.

"Impressive, sir. Moves like a total rocket." I replied.

"Glad you like it. You will be running that for the entire championship. That will be your opportunity to shine after moving up from the karts." Louis said.


Now that everything is in place, I simply put up a grin, to show that I am ready.


"I won't stop... until I beat...




weathertech-raceway-laguna-seca_-jpg.1347633



...him."



"Hmm?" Louis asked as he heard that mumble.


"Oh, nothing. Let's eat. I am starting to get hungry." I replied with a smile.


And so both of us proceed to open our lunch packs. Oh, steak with baked potatoes. Not bad.



********************************************************************************************************



A month passed by quickly, and lo and behold...


...it's the qualifying day for the 1st round of the World Touring Car Championship at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy.

Seeing the course layout, the Veyron definitely will shine here. Already, there are some scornful eyes on our car.


Pit Garage_.jpeg



We then gather in a large room for driver briefing. Everyone is present - Kevin Kern, Charlie Kesler... the rest I don't know.


The orientation ended without incident. We head straight for our pit garages, until...


...Charlie pats on my back.


"Bonjour, my friend! Hey, I'm trying to learn French." Charlie greeted.

"Good luck learning it, mon ami." I said.


"Hey, now that we are both moving up to the world, our scoreboard still stands. I will be setting match point, I'll tell you." Charlie said with a grin.


"Well, may the best man win." I replied.




After several checks to the car, we set off for the qualifying session.



Pit Area_.jpeg



Charlie drives a mid-engined Corvette. While there's a green Alfa Romeo Giulia behind me.


And we're off the pit lane. We are already treating this as a race.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza_.jpeg

I have to be careful, but at the same time, I have to set the fastest lap.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__1.jpeg



Sorry Charlie, we'll play some other time.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__2.jpeg



Monsieur Louis then contacts me.
"Take care of the car, okay? Don't push it too much on the qualifying." Louis said.
autodromo-nazionale-monza_-jpeg.1348338




"Got it. Don't worry, the car runs fine." I replied.




autodromo-nazionale-monza__1-jpeg.1348339


"You set the fastest lap time of 1 minute and 46.8 seconds. Your rivals are touching in the 48 second range. Great job." Louis said.



Awesome. That will make them scratch their heads. Gotta take a break.

I returned to the pit lane to take a breather.

I see Monsieur talking to a bald man. They both seem to be best friends, with that banter they are having.

Monsieur then asks me about the car.


"Is the car good? Are there any necessary adjustments?" Louis asked.


"The car needs more rear torque bias. It understeers in the chicanes." I replied.


"Okay. We will work on it. Please sit down and relax first." Louis said.

I then take a seat, and then put my headset on to play music. I wanna clear my head.


Then I notice the two going somewhere. What are they up to?


"Listen, Rob... I want to find Alphonse's father... here, his toothbrush and his hair strand." Louis said.

"Any one who you're suspecting?" Rob asked.


"I have made a background on check on his mother. His mother is a supermodel named Olivia Blanchard. She died giving birth to him. She had many suitors... but that is all I can come up with. But at least I narrowed it down." Louis replied.

"That's a tall order. But I know where to start. Thank you." Rob said.

"According to some news snippets I have gathered, accounting for her nine months of pregnancy, the last person she was rumored to be dating with was..."


When they returned, I see Monsieur handing a package over to his friend.

A gift? I dunno.




No use musing about it. Tomorrow is the big day. First round.



And I have the pole.



Bring it on, world.






End of Act 2













 
Last edited:
Act 3: Monza Madness (Part 1)



autodromo-nazionale-monza__10-jpeg.1348348



We lined up in a rolling start manner, in order to negate the launching advantage that four wheel drive cars have. Fair enough.



3... 2... 1...


And off we go.


autodromo-nazionale-monza__12-jpeg.1348350



Autodromo Nazionale Monza_.jpeg




Surely you'd think I have a breathing room since I started on pole. But that will be the biggest misconception if you are behind the wheel.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza__1.jpeg




Someone is putting up a fight.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__2.jpeg


That green Alfa Romeo.



It's inching on me on the bends.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__3.jpeg



But I can leave it on the straights.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza__4.jpeg



Here he goes again, at the Variante Ascari chicane.


"Alfa Romeo pressuring me." I said over the radio.

"He's Giacomo Marelli, son of the ex-F1 driver, Benito Marelli. His family owns a karting academy. Ever heard of the Marelli Karting Academy?" Louis asked.


Wait... that does ring a bell. I had a fair share of opponents coming from that karting school.





Autodromo Nazionale Monza__5.jpeg




"Now I get it." I replied.



"Remember, it's just the first lap. Just like in karting, cool heads prevail. We have 40 laps here." Louis said.


"Understood." I said.



I am sure he's just as motivated as I am. I don't mind having new adversaries.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__6.jpeg



Merde! I left an opening on braking!



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__7.jpeg



Giulias are rear wheel drive, right? If so, they can tuck in the apex easier.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__8.jpeg




And just like that, my lead is snatched away. But calm down, Alphonse...


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__9.jpeg




2nd lap. The Giulia definitely is a rear wheel drive car, look at how it smoothly enters the first turn.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__10.jpeg




But that doesn't mean...




...I can just sit around.



I'll use your own move against you.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__11.jpeg



Don't forget, this Veyron is lightened, and has racing brakes. I can brake later.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza__12.jpeg




Got you now.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__13.jpeg



But that doesn't mean I can breathe easy. I know how a fellow karting driver attacks.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__14.jpeg





We just don't let go of our opponents. Especially on close quarters racing.




Autodromo Nazionale Monza__15.jpeg



The Giulia catches on my draft.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__16.jpeg



We are exchanging positions at this point.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__17.jpeg




The Giulia has good speed too. Considering the fact that the Veyron is choked with air restrictors, it puts up a nice pace.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__18.jpeg




Music: Tekken 7 OST - Mishima Building Final Round






Autodromo Nazionale Monza__19.jpeg




Time to go on the offensive.





A love tap. It's something we do to shake off the opponent's balance.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__20.jpeg



Hope you don't get upset, amico mio. I'm sure you've done that too.




Autodromo Nazionale Monza__21.jpeg



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__22.jpeg



No doubt. You are a better adversary than Charlie.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__23.jpeg



You never give up. This championship will surely be worthwhile!


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__24.jpeg


But of course, I have to win. There is balance between work and play.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__25.jpeg



A few laps have passed, and my pace is steady.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__26.jpeg



But suddenly, the Giulia flailed.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__27.jpeg




Lap 19...



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__28.jpeg




Autodromo Nazionale Monza__29.jpeg


"What's the gap between me and the Alfa?" I asked.


"15 seconds." Louis replied.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza__30.jpeg




Woah... never imagined he would mess up that badly. Was it his tires?



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__31.jpeg


"Giulia boxed in." Louis said.


"Copy." I replied.


Tire wear is dependent on the setup, I suppose. But he's not the only one suffering.



I, too, am struggling with the wear. I think he's about to keep up.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__32.jpeg



I guess it's time for me to box in.

"Okay, Alphonse. Box box. And refuel." Louis said.


"Copy." I replied.


However...


...Marelli just popped up from nowhere! Am I that slow now?!



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__33.jpeg



To my shock, I forgot to pit in.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__34.jpeg



"Alphonse! What happened! You're supposed to box." Louis said.



"Sorry, got caught in the heat of the moment. I will definitely box this time." I replied.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__35.jpeg



Had I entered the pit lane, I would have enough grip to at least keep the gap. But it's all too late. My pace dropped severely.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__36.jpeg





And now I boxed in. A fresh set of tires and refuel.



Just you wait, Giacomo Marelli...





Autodromo Nazionale Monza__37.jpeg




...because I'm not done yet!


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__38.jpeg







END OF ACT 3





















 
Last edited:
Act 4 - Monza Madness (Part 2)





All right... new set of tires and fuel.




I'm sure the Giulia is reaping the benefits. Better enjoy them while you can.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza_.jpeg



Seems like my only chance is on the straightaways.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__1.jpeg



For most of us, we pride on being able to do anything in a race. Sometimes, we don't just settle in one advantage.



But at this point? That thinking is thrown out of the window.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza__2.jpeg



"Gap to Giulia is at 15 seconds... 14.5" Louis said.


"Copy." I replied.





Autodromo Nazionale Monza__3.jpeg



Good, at least there's hope. I am doing the right thing.



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Lap 30...



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I'm also lapping other cars.



"Careful on your tires. Don't push too much or you won't have enough grip to catch Marelli. This is no longer karting." Louis said.


"Understood." I replied.



This is just one of those situations that you have to be logical.

But at the same time, you need that drive....



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Two more laps had passed, and then...


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THERE HE IS!


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Let's play again, mon ami... or amico mio in your language.


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"Marelli is increasing gap on corners, but you are making up ground on the straights. That's the only advantage we have." Louis said.



"Got it. I guess we have to settle for that." I replied.


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No choice, huh?

And no excuses either. That pit mistake is something that will cost me here.




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"Okay, Alphonse, Marelli has boxed in again." Louis said.



Wait, is he serious? What happened?


We only have 4 laps left!



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Gotta make the most out of that, I suppose.



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And another lap later...



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Just like that, I got overtaken again... like I'm a traffic car or something. Is he on Softs now?

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Oh no you won't, Marelli.


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Ah! Out of my way, Audi!



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The gap has widened yet again.

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"Gap to Marelli is at 5 seconds." Louis said.


5 seconds is next to impossible to close in if you only have a lap left, unless fate got in cast a magic spell on your opponent.


Oh look, Charlie!



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You must be fuming, now that I have lapped you.


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Better luck next time. Adieu!



But yeah... I think it's time to concede.




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Benissimo, Marelli.


I know a bit of Italian, since I have Monegasque schoolmates who taught me the language.

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I finished 2nd.



"Wonderful performance, Alphonse. 2nd place in the first round. We can definitely lead on the next." Louis said.


"Thank you everyone. I'm sorry for the box mistake earlier." I replied.


"No worries about that. You gave your best here." Louis said.


At the podium ceremony, we did the usual champagne spraying... and Giacomo looks very proud. That big smile on his face.


I'm happy for him too.


And then he approached me.


"Awesome race. You're Alphonse Blanchard, am I right? The world karting champion?" Giacomo asked.


"Yes. You gave me a great challenge there, amico mio. I won't be as nice in the next round. Hehe." I said.



The two of us exchange bro fists. Now there's someone who I would now love to trifle with.


A worthy adversary.




And perhaps, a good friend too.


Oh shoot! Gotta call my grandparents! I have to let them know about what happened today!


Où est mon telephone?



End of Act 4





 
Last edited:
Act 5 - The Test



Whew... first round done and dusted.
A second place finish is a great start. It's easier to turn things around that way. Giacomo Marelli is definitely one to watch out for.


In the HQ, Monsieur Louis gathered every one of us for a briefing. The next round will be at Suzuka Circuit, Japan, next week.

As we speak, logistics are already flying the car there. We will follow suit a few days later.
Japan, huh? The land of Anime, they say. For others, it's the land where progress and tradition blend in perfect harmony.


Also, Suzuka has strong ties to F1. It is the host of the Japanese Grand Prix for decades.
I guess I'll be seeing that circuit more often... if my plans went through.


We also checked the weather forecast. Huh... overcast skies.
The team always prepares Intermediate and Wet tires anyway.
But, just like everyone else, I am hoping the track remains dry on race day.



**********************************************************************************


Saturday, qualifying day.


After the briefing, as we return to the paddock, the showers suddenly fall.


Oh well... might as well tread carefully. I gotta grab the pole.



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The qualifying still pushed through. The precipitation isn't that bad.


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Is Kevin Kern going to race this time? I hope so. I want to race him, at least for once.

Thanks to being four wheel drive, the Veyron smoothly sails through the wet surface. I'm sure it's getting scrutiny once more.



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Surely Kevin Kern is the one driving right now, right?


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I've learned that Japan holds a special place in his heart. So surely he must be running this one.





*************************************************************************************


The next day, Sunday...

Race day.

We get busy as usual. I was then asked to get some refreshments from vending machines nearby. Oh, nice. Warm and cold tea bottles? And there's like... rows of vending machines.


After purchasing drinks, I placed them all in a bag. As I make my way back, I see a huge crowd gathering in Team Neo's paddock.

What's going on? And what's with those large speakers?


Then I see... Kevin! Kevin comes out, with his teammates.



"Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for coming to see my.... last ever race here in Japan. I have always thought that I will race in this wonderful country for many times in my life. But... here we are, terminally ill but still smiling and fighting. I will never forget my first days here, as an exchange student then getting fascinated day by day by your wonderful people and culture. You all showed me how beautiful and vibrant this country is, and next... that dance, the one we'll be performing... that dance that launched me to where I am today. It's so bittersweet, that I'll be performing this as my last dance. This dance meant so much to me, that it taught me no matter what we go through, we have to keep smiling. I hope that you will keep being happy for yourself and for your loved ones no matter what kind of adversities you go through. I honestly do not know when I will leave this world, but please keep that light of happiness shining.... not just for me, but also for you." Kevin said.


That was a bittersweet moment. Kevin poured his heart onto that. He chose this round to say farewell to his Japanese fans. And he's right, we have to keep on smiling.


Even from afar, I can see that he is about to cry. I also feel this heavy burden in my heart. He resonates so well with everyone... that we can also feel him.



Then I hear music. They're dancing to this lively Japanese music whose lyrics I clearly don't understand.


His fans follow suit. They too, are also dancing with him. It proves my point.


Well, gotta go back now. These drinks are preferred cold.



I returned to my team's paddock, and I handed the drinks to the mechanics and staff.


I then approached Monsieur.



"Sorry, I just noticed Team Neo having a little dance party there." I said.


"Oh, so that's where the noise is coming from. I see." Louis replied.


Then I said, "Kevin and his fans are dancing. Never knew he had a huge legion of fans here in Japan."


Then all of a sudden... someone comes in the paddock. A Japanese man with white racing overalls with the large "VISA" logo on the chest.


"Yuki Kanonji." Louis said.


"Pleasure to meet you, Alphonse Blanchard." Yuki said.




Yuki Kanonji. He looks meek. And that smile. I reciprocated his greeting gesture.

"Nice run on the first round. And I have also learned about your reputation in karting. Let's see if you have the chops to be in Formula 1. Looking forward to this race." Yuki said.


Before I can utter even a single word, he left. What is he on to?

"Let's see if you have the chops to be in Formula 1."

What does he imply?


"Yuki Kanonji was once part of the Dream Alliance. And let me tell you one thing...



...he's MENACING. Be careful. His looks betray." Louis said.



And then... I am feeling this ominous energy. Something is not right. It's... sinister.


"One more fact. He now belongs to the Red Bull - Visa Cash App team. A division of Red Bull racing. The entire Red Bull Racing is on a roll lately, winning races in multiple categories left, right, and center." Louis added.



Another worthy opponent, perhaps?

But this time around, I am feeling uneasy.

The way Yuki communicated with me... he's calm... but not in the good way. There's a bit of a condescending tone to it.



I don't want to think much. We are now being called for a rolling start formation.



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And then the race begins.



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Yuki is in a Honda NSX. That's a car rarely seen in Europe.


And he's sticking close.





Music: A God of Death II - Initial D 5th Stage Soundfiles.


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Then suddenly...


...I feel a bump. I hear metalwork crashing into each other.



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What the...?! He's pressing me to the side!



"You may be 17, but you gotta know now that racing isn't all smiles and sunshine!" Yuki said.


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What is he trying to do?!



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I applied the brakes, and the NSX just scraped past the lead.


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"Contact with Yuki. Thankfully he just scraped on the side." I reported to Monsieur Louis.

"Understood. I knew my gut feeling is right. He never changed at all." Louis said.

"Who is he, anyway?" I asked.


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"Yuki was once a street racer in the mountains of Japan. He was known to bring fear among his opponents, while keeping an innocent face. That extends to the track, especially when other racers quickly dismissed him only to regret that afterwards." Louis replied.




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I don't know who's scarier... Yuki Kanonji or Yuki Tsunoda? Does "Yuki" directly translate to "fear" in Japanese?




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Either way...



...I'm not going down without a fight!





End of Act 5








 
Act 6 - Le Courroux


You'll meet different types of people in racing.

Some are nice, who play fair and square.



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...and then there's Yuki Kanonji.

Not that I'm saying he's a total jerk, but his method is unconventional. I'm not sure I can agree that it's "F1 Material".


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He isn't teasing me, but he definitely pushes me to my limit. Look how fast that NSX can go!


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Is this what I'm expecting from Formula 1? Is it harsher than how the media portrays it to be?


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Laps have passed and the NSX's pace shows no signs of wavering.


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Meanwhile, Kevin is breathing down on my neck.


"Alphonse, we just checked the weather radar. Showers are expected in a few minutes." Louis said.

"Understood." I said.



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I knew it's not going to be smooth sailing.

And lo and behold... I'm seeing drops of water on the windshield.

I am used to having water impeding my view on the visor on my karting days. But now that I am in a cocoon of a production car with windshield wipers, I can say that I'm thankful.



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"Yuki has boxed in." Louis said.

"Got it." I said.


Huh... is that premature? The surface is still dry. Mechanical problem?


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Regardless, I have a race to win. Allons-y!




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Kevin took the inside of the hairpin. You'd never think he's sick... his racing lines are as crisp as ever.


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Music: Because of You - Jager




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The sky is getting darker. The surface is damp. He still pushes on.





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It's getting more slippery. We are moving like snails here. We definitely have to box.



"Okay Alphonse. Box this time. We have Intermediates ready." Louis said.


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Getting there. We're at the Casio Triangle.



And then... woah! Yuki?! He scraped off the door again!


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That imbecile... I bet he swapped for Intermediates earlier and took advantage of everyone crawling the wet surface.



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As I arrived at the pits, Monsieur runs over to the right side of the car to assess the damage.



"Just focus on winning, Alphonse. These types of damage are common in touring car racing. Remember that." Louis said over the radio.


I breathe a sigh of relief. But I bet that won't last long.



I exit the pit lane, with Marelli taking the 3rd spot.



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Of course I haven't forgotten him. My repertoire of adversaries is getting larger. And it will grow further, for sure.


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We spent a couple of laps battling it out.



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Yuki pits in again? Well, I don't really care. We have our own strategies.



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With that out of the way, I have set my sights on Kevin.



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This may be the only time I'm racing him, so I'd better deliver.



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The showers have gotten more intense. Even I am struggling despite the 4WD system.



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All right, my turn to lead now, Mr. Kern.


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I honestly was not aware of your situation until you dropped a bombshell to your fans. Never knew you were in such pain... both literally and figuratively.


And yet here you are... still fighting. Are you sending a message to your enemy or something?

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All the more reason why I shouldn't let my guard down. You inspire me.






Yuki is behind me once more. What is he planning to do this time?


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The rain has stopped. I'll stick to Inters, then. Best tire to use when the track is drying up.


And back to Yuki, he's locking on.




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There he goes again. I feel another tap from the back.



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I don't know what your motivations are, but if you're telling that this is what I'll be expecting in Formula 1...


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...then I'll be ready to throw down as well. I will show you no mercy.


Just like in my karting days.



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END OF ACT 6
 
Last edited:
ACT 7: Checkmate





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The surface is drying up. I gotta box in.



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Monsieur ordered to swap for soft tires.


I trust in his strategy. Though sometimes you'd wonder why one would use soft tires on a drying up surface.


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Just making sure I won't drive over the wet parts of the track. Yes, I get a lot of grip right now, but I can't fully attack the course.


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"Okay Alphonse, Yuki has boxed in." Louis said.





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Guess he'll be swapping to softs too.


Once I've overtaken him, I increased my pace. Though Kevin isn't too far behind either.




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Couple of laps later, Yuki would come up behind me once more...



...and then there's that familiar nudge that I'm feeling.



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He's pushing me to the wet zones!



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I can barely turn! The only thing to do is decelerate.



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I have encountered clowns and crazy people in karting, but never in my life I have met someone like Yuki. Is this how grueling the big leagues are, like everyone says?



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"Best weapon against aggressive drivers is a cool head. Do not fight fire with fire with the likes of them." Louis said.



Then Karma hits. The NSX drove over the wet line at turn 1.


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Which gave me some breathing room.


Just like Monsieur said: "Keep a cool head."



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But strangely, I feel... happy. Is this adrenaline? I am more fired up than ever. I am even showing a grin on my face.



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So this is how the big leagues work, huh? Monsieur Montagny is right, this is an unforgiving world. Your innocence will perish in an instant.


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"En garde, s'il vous plait!" I exclaimed.


I said that out of the blue. I guess this is adrenaline talking right now.


But I have to be wary and...




...woah!


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I yelled, "That piece of merde!"


"Calm down, Alphonse." Louis replied.





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Oh don't entertain the notion that I will let you go. You are my rival, after all. I don't let go of my rivals.


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I am also noticing the NSX showing peculiar movements. I guess you're limping from too much damage you're giving, huh?



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Or probably not.


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Yuki once again enters the pits.


And quickly I see why.




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It started to rain again. Right on the final parts of the race. Brilliant.


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"Box box. Box box. Switch to Wets." Louis said.


"Copy." I replied.




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As expected, Yuki regained the lead as I wait in the pits. But at least it's a tire change only, as I still have enough fuel to finish this race. Well, it's two laps left.


I then gave it my all on the out lap. The four wheel drive of the Veyron serves me well.


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Until the final lap... Yuki is being hampered by other slower opponents. All right! Time to end this circus!





I then yelled on the radio: "Allons-y!"





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Yuki doesn't budge either. He overtook me once again in the 130R.



Just as I am thinking of settling in second, Yuki's NSX flails once again.

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His NSX loses control at the final turn. I then hit the accelerator hard.


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I have finally secured a win in this championship. Eleven points added.





"Wonderful, just wonderful, Alphonse! Great job!" Louis said.


I can tell from the tone of his voice that he is euphoric. It's as if I am hearing a proud mentor telling his protege.



"Echec et mat." I replied.





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Kevin finished in 2nd place. I am also happy for him. At least he ends his final race in Japan with something memorable. I'm sure his fans are cheering loudly.



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After the victory lap, I returned to my pit garage. Everyone is applauding, and Monsieur Louis hugs me tight.

"Well done. You didn't give in to anger. Don't worry about the car, we can easily sort it out." Louis said.


"It was really tough. I guess this is just the start. I am now slowly realizing how high the stakes are." I replied.


"There will be tougher battles ahead, mon ami. But I can assure you, you are not and will never be alone." Louis said.


He then shows a smile, and... he messes up my already chaotic hair.


After that, a podium ceremony ensues. The French national anthem is played. I look up the skies with pride, not minding the showers hitting on my face. I can technically call this my first ever win. It feels different when you are now at a higher level.





Then... I slowly walk towards Kevin. I want to speak to him. This is the only opportunity I have.


"Yes?" Kevin says as he turns his attention to me.



I then asked, "So you are Kevin Kern, right? I'm an avid follower of your gaming streams. I'm... really glad to have finally seen you in the flesh, and race too."


"I am thoroughly impressed by your performance. You prevailed after everything thrown at you. That's the kind of resilience and fighting spirit I want to see. Magnifique!" Kevin said.


"Thank you. I am going to miss you too. I hope this won't be our last race." I said.


"Who knows? But listen. You have a promising future ahead of you. Keep on racing and don't let anything bring you down. I will be watching." Kevin said.


He then pats on my shoulder. That had a warm feeling to it. And also encouraging.




He walks away, and I am smiling. Although I have to accept the fact that he will someday disappear. But before that happens, there is one thing we must do.

I then call him out.



"Hey! My handle is AlphonseB17! CoD tonight?" I yelled.



"Sure! Let's play!" Kevin replied with a big grin.




I'll make sure that it will be a night to remember.


As I returned to the team with the shining gold trophy, I see someone speaking to Louis.


It's Yuki Kanonji again.



I would have punched his face. But I know better since I am starting out. I can't risk losing my career over a punch.




"Ah. There you are." Yuki said.


"Yuki." I said.


"I am thoroughly impressed. Despite everything I threw at you, you prevailed. That is something needed in the world of Formula 1." Yuki said.


"Why were you doing all of those?" I asked.



"It's merely a test. I want to see if you truly have the tenacity." Yuki said.


"Tenacity?" I asked.


"Nowadays, people can just buy their seat in any racing team, only to be unprepared for the harsh reality they're facing with. My task is to see if you have what it takes. F1 or any other elite discipline doesn't need another entitled brat in the grid. It needs someone like you.


Say, would you like to have a seat in Red Bull racing?" Yuki asked.



Hang on. This is all too fast. A seat in the Formula 1 after all of this? Huh...



...well, to be honest, I still have to work on that "tenacity" Yuki is talking about. I have to hone on my craft even further.



"I appreciate the offer, but I am afraid that I cannot accept it... yet. You see, I was easily attacked by you. I almost gave in to anger. That's something a Formula 1 driver shouldn't have. The most successful F1 drivers have undergone every kind of challenge and prevailed at each one with conviction. I have yet to reach that." I replied.



Yuki grins upon hearing my answer.

"That's a commendable answer. Another part of the test passed." Yuki said.


That was just another test?!


"Humility. Something that even the top drivers have thrown out these days. I personally don't want another pompous, ego-driven driver on the track. I wish you all the best. And once we are in Super Formula, or F1...



...better throw me with everything you have." Yuki said.





It appears that Yuki is a man of principle after all. He brought up a very good point about drivers as a whole, and what it takes to be an F1 driver.


Don't worry, Yuki... I'll get there.




END OF ACT 7













 
Last edited:
Act 8 - New Light


We celebrated our victory in a barbecue restaurant nearby.

After packing up and everything, we returned to our hotel in Osaka.

Even though it's the middle of the night, I didn't forget my plan to play with Kevin online in Call of Duty.

This may be my last time I'll get to interact with him, so better make it count.

Oh yes, I brought a gaming console in the hotel room. Hehe.



After a few minutes of waiting, Kevin accepted my friend request and then I hooked up my headphones to speak to him through a microphone.



"Testing. Testing. Can you hear me?" I asked.

"Loud and clear. I'm happy that you have time. I know we must be sleeping, but hey... I can't break a promise." Kevin said.

"How are you now?" I asked.

"A bit sleepy." Kevin replied.


That's a... nice response. I can tell in his voice that he's fighting back his ailments. There's a jovial tone, but at the same time, there's a hint of depression... and raspy.

"Let's begin." Kevin said.


We spent an hour playing, and we are on opposing teams. While we have equal amount of kills to each other, ultimately Kevin edged me out.

I was about to sleep anyway, but he didn't leave without a message.

"Hey Alphonse, I think this is it. This is the only time we have met. During the race, I already felt that you have that flame inside you, burning. Keep it that way. Don't let others snuff it out. One day, you'll be able to achieve your goal. I'm even jealous. You... are still healthy and capable. While I... am weak and close to death's door. I am trying my very best to keep that light of hope burning. There are numerous race car drivers out there yearning for justice, and I won't perish until I give them the justice they deserve.


Keep on racing, Alphonse." Kevin said.



Truly heartwarming. But at the same time depressing. Hey, don't die just yet, okay? I have something to give to you after finally beating me in the game.

"I will. You can count on me. And by the way, I will give something to you since you beat me this time. I'll work on that right away." I said.



"Sounds nice. Well, I'll wait for that. Hey, I gotta log out now. I have to rest. I must be in good shape before my next procedure." Kevin said.


"I won't keep you for long. Good night! And keep on fighting. We'll see each other again. Right?" I replied.




After that silence, he logged out. I'm sure he's smiling.


Hang in there, okay?




************************************************************************************



I woke up late in the morning. Monsieur Louis is packing up our luggage. I am mustering enough strength to at least get up and unplug the console from the television and power outlets.



But then suddenly, he got interrupted by a phone call. Well, gotta dress up anyway and pack up.


After taking a shower, I quickly head over the wardrobe and pick my clothes.


"Seems like we are extending our stay here... for a day." Louis said.

"Huh? Why?" I asked.



"Monsieur Noel Chevalier wants to meet us up for lunch. At least you're dressed nicely enough. We'll be in France tomorrow instead." Louis replied.


Monsieur Noel Chevalier... the interim head of the FIA?

What did we do to warrant a meeting with him? Are we in trouble or something? But it's a lunch meeting, so it would typically be something good, right?




After getting dressed, we head out of the hotel lobby. Monsieur said that a car will pick us up, with Monsieur Chevalier's assistant coming along.


At the appointed time, we left the hotel.



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It's still raining, huh? It evokes memories from yesterday's race. It reminds me of the things I have to work on.





I am still far off...




Now, I wonder where they are taking us? The car we're riding on is quiet. An EV, perhaps?

Tokyo Expressway - Central Clockwise__1 - Copy.jpeg



Not too long after, we arrived at a restaurant that looks like an emperor's palace. It oozes history, very traditional.



The assistant leads us, along with the restaurant staff wearing traditional Japanese garbs. Are those what they called "kimono"?


One of the restaurant staff opens a sliding door of a private room. We are then asked to take off our shoes. As we climbed one step, I feel the wood creaking. It's real wood. Then on to a mat. There is an open terrace in our view, with a cedar tree beside a small pond.

Sitting on the traditional mat is none other than Noel Chevalier. He looks very dignified, with gelled back hair wearing what could be a tailor made suit, I suppose.


So... we are sitting on the mat? This is traditional Japanese dining, huh? On the table there's a set. Are those... raw fish? My schoolmates have told me stories about these.


But before we can sit, Monsieur Chevalier stands up and shakes our hands.


"Welcome. I am glad you made it. I must apologize for interrupting your schedule." Noel said.


"Not at all. We have rescheduled our flight for tomorrow. No problems. Louis said.



So now, we finally sat down. Chopsticks? Oh boy, I don't know how to use them. This is awkward. I can't mess up in front of the president of the FIA!

"I see that you are not adept at chopsticks. No worry, then." Noel said.


He then called for the waitress and asked for utensils. This is embarrassing. I should have learned how to use chopsticks back home. We've never been to an Asian restaurant in Marseilles. As if we know one in our area.


Noel then looks at me. I just put up a smile... with anxiety.

"What an elegant young man gracing in front of me. You have moved up in the world. Tell me, how is the world of car racing treating you?" Noel asked.


"I'll be honest, sir. It's much tougher than I expected." I replied.


"I see. A typical answer, but that is to be expected. I commend you for going out of your comfort zone. Karting can only do so much, truth be told. You must broaden your horizons, young man. Right now, you are doing exceptionally well." Noel said.


"I still have a lot to work on, sir. My dream is to be in Formula 1, racing alongside with the stalwarts." I said.


Wow... I just said that out of the blue. Very bold of me.

"Ah... c'est magnifique! Keep working on that. I will closely monitor your progress, young man. But of course, as the head of the FIA, I will still be objective and fair to everyone." Noel said.


You know what's strange? I don't feel... intimidated. He's like... a close friend. He exudes this cool, and calming aura. I would normally tremble in front of authority.

But not to him.

Oh, there's my utensils. Thanks.


"Well, let's get to know more about each other, shall we? Where are your parents?" Noel asked.


He straight asked that question... but I have none.

"They are both gone. My mother died giving birth to me, and my father... no one told me who and where he was." I replied.


"His mother was the late supermodel named Olivia Blanchard. I'm sure you have heard of her." Louis added.



Noel abruptly halts his sipping of tea as he coughed. Monsieur Louis' tone was a bit agitated.

This is getting tense already. Why did he answer in such manner?


"Yes... I do. I am quite shocked. She had passed on? I haven't heard from her in years. She just disappeared from the public eye." Noel replied.


I helped myself with this slice of orange meat. I put one in my mouth.

Gotta say... it's an acquired taste. And it's cold.


"Well, she did choose to be quiet. Being a well-known figure can be quite exhausting, especially when she chose to take responsibility over fame." Louis said.


Monsieur Louis... is he angry?


"Pardon me for bringing up such question. I'm sure this must be a touchy subject for you, Alphonse." Noel said.


"No need for apologies, sir." I replied.



"On to a different topic, then, to ease this tension. What are your plans after this championship?" Noel asked.


"When another opportunity opens, I'll take it. As long as it grants me a step closer, then I'll accept it. Simple as that. I don't mind trying out other disciplines." I replied.



"Brilliant answer. As a matter of fact, some Formula 1 drivers have taken different paths such the World Endurance Championship, to expand their repertoire. You can't be a one trick pony. Otherwise, you will be out of business." Noel said.



"Don't worry, Monsieur. I will do my very best to guide Alphonse. Watch him achieve his dreams." Louis said.


"Very well. I expect nothing less from The Zephyr himself. Let's see how you nurture another wind... and turn it into a storm." Noel said.



********************************************************************************************************



My stomach was filled with more tension than sashimi.

Monsieur Louis addressed Monsieur Chevalier rather aggressively. Do the two share a history?


We went into a convenience store and buy packed lunches, and the staff overheat them. Sorry, I am not that fond of sushi or sashimi... yet.


Walking back to our hotel, I took this opportunity to ask.



"Monsieur... why did you act that way? Like, you sound a bit more aggressive to him." I asked.


"Because he was rather insensitive." Louis replied.


"But that's a normal question. Naturally, you'd ask that when getting to know someone, right?" I said.


"It's how he delivered that question. I don't find the question itself offensive, but the way he said it... it's as if he's a principal demanding to see your parents. Noel Chevalier may be honorable, but there are times his sharp tongue gets the better of him. I was triggered by that.

He didn't even bother checking your background BEFORE meeting us. He popped that question out of the blue. Out of all people, he doesn't know social cues?" Louis replied.



Sometimes you'd forget about those when you have the power.


Monsieur Louis isn't just my mentor. He's like a brother to me too. He did put Noel in his place for a bit.


"Don't forget to call your grandparents, okay? You won yesterday." Louis said.



Oh shoot! Yeah! I was so over the moon last night that I forgot!

Ou est mon telephone?





*****************************************************************************************************



The week flew past by faster than a TGV.


We're in Australia now, for the third round.



I could not really report much since no incident took place on our team; other than Team Neo having a DNQ on qualifying, that is.



Heading straight to race day.



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Team Neo starts last, with Dave Lempel once again behind the wheel, as Kevin opted to stay in Germany for his procedure at a hospital, apparently.


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I qualified fourth yesterday. A woman named Czarina Marsh set the fastest lap time in the C8. I thought I will be playing with Charlie once again.


And Marelli is ahead of me too, at third.


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Gotta say, it's boring. I easily overtook them on the straights. Though I was wondering why I started on fourth despite Bathurst being a power circuit.


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The technical section at the top of the hill can sting the Veyron's performance. That could probably explain my starting position. I was struggling with understeer.

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But then...



....Team Neo's AMG appeared.



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C'est magnifique. I thought the Italian will only be my rival here. Monsieur was right all along. Neo isn't just a renamed Dream Alliance.



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Despite my best efforts, I failed to catch the AMG. Gotta settle for second again.



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We're still leading by points. I just have to be optimistic about today.






*******************************************************************************************************





We have a two week break after third round. Monsieur Louis decided that I should go back home to Marseilles to check up on my grandparents.


I told them everything about what happened so far, even that tension-filled meeting with Noel Chevalier. Grandpa wasn't too keen on that. But I didn't bring that up further as I gave them souvenirs, with the most interesting ones from Japan.




Three days later, as my grandma is tending to the garden, while grandpa is reading the daily newspaper, I am in my room, finalizing my digital purchase to a yearly subscription to Discord Nitro.

It's a gift for Kevin, after that CoD night. I even made a card with the Discord logo in it. I intend to personally give it to him should he appear to be present on the 4th round.




I then head downstairs, as I am looking for a spare ribbon to top off the gift. I pass by the living room, with the television on despite grandpa reading the newspaper, to at least liven up room.


It's showing a news report. As I am opening the cabinet looking for a ribbon, I hear this particular statement...





"Renowned social media personality and race car driver Kevin Kern has passed away this afternoon, at age 26. He has been battling with late state Hodgkin's Lymphoma along with other myriad of diseases.

According to reports, he was racing with a friend at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany until he lost consciousness and was brought to the hospital. He died hours later, leaving behind his girlfriend and his father who was allegedly living under a false name none other than Uwe Gottlieb - real name being the famous racer Gerhard Kern.


The whole cosplaying community sent thousands of tributes and flowers at Team Neo's headquarters.


Team Neo has released a statement..."





I dropped everything I held on my hands... including the card.

No... this can't be.


It can't be...


I shed tears. The person who gave me encouragement to fight...


...I still want to race him.



Now that he's gone...



...I will not let him down.


You can rest easy now, Mr. Kevin Kern. I will keep on racing just like you said.










End of Act 8




















 
Last edited:
Act 9 - Succeed



That card... hmmm... wasn't really cut neatly. The proportions look off. The left side looks larger than on the right.

The ribbon looks shiny, though.



What's the point? The recipient is gone. Off to heaven. I just slammed the scissors on the wooden desk.

Who am I supposed to give this to?


I am deeply affected. Why? We only met each other for a day. It's not like he was my schoolmate nor childhood friend.


That's how much of an impact he made. No wonder he had tons of fans. He will make you feel like you are his little brother. He brought nothing but smiles.


I can only stare at that gift that took me hours to craft. Throwing it in the bin would be disrespectful.


I have to give it to someone...




*********************************************************************************************


Another week passed, and we are in the United States of America.

Specifically in Washington State, not D.C. That got me confused, as I thought I am in the capital but it's not. 4th round takes place in the Trial Mountain Circuit.

You'd never think that a circuit can be tucked within the mountains. But mankind made that possible.


It's qualifying day. And yes, I brought the card with me.

I know who to give it to.


And so before the run starts, I head off to Team Neo's pit garage.

I am amazed. They still perform like clockwork despite Kevin's death. Life must go on, they say.


It took me a while, and then I finally spotted Mr. Gerhard Kern.

So he was Uwe Gottlieb. I am perplexed as to how he kept up with a false persona the whole time. He still looks dignified and powerful. I don't even see creases on his shirt.

But now's not the time to delve on that. I pulled out the card.


"Excuse me... is Mr. Kern over there?" I asked.


As if on cue, the man himself approached me.

"Oh, you must be Mr. Alphonse Blanchard." Gerhard said.


I then said, "I offer my sincerest condolences. Here's something for you..." as I hand over the card.


Mr. Kern flips it open, and it contains a message:


"I have lost a friend, a rival, and a brother. We will meet once again, Kevin Kern."



And attached is another small card, showing a Discord Nitro avatar that I only came up with a quick photo editing.


"The last time we played, I lost against your son. I gave a one-year worth of Discord Nitro subscription as part of the deal. But now..." I said, in a gloomy tone.


"Thank you, young man. I think Kevin would appreciate it more if you give your all. Do not hold back. Do not be affected." Gerhard said.


Then he pats on my shoulder. He too, would show the same smile his son is known for.


I am feeling a bit of peace after that moment. I finally fulfilled my promise, just on a different circumstance.





********************************************************************************************************



The next day - Race Day.



I qualified 2nd, as Charlie was eager to outshine me in his home race. Good for him.


But lap times don't really matter, to be honest.



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When the race started, I got to business.


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Honestly, don't be too obsessed on beating me. Focus on your career and your skill. That's how I beat YOU.



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And then... Marelli joins in the fun.


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Yesterday, he was really quick in qualifying. He held on the pole until Charlie and I set faster times. I've heard that the Giulia received some downforce upgrades.

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Argh... I have Charlie to deal with as well.


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The Giulia is increasing its gap.


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Just unbelievable... I've never struggled like this against the Giulia.


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Something to really ponder.



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Just how many drivers similar to Marelli are out there? I can no longer hang on to my "Karting Champion" self.





**********************************************************************************************



I finished 2nd on the 4th round. Man... time flies really fast.


We're on the final approach.


But I am musing on my results lately. The only time I finished 1st was on the 2nd round at Suzuka.


Can I just settle on the second? Third? What's going on with me?




At the HQ, we were being briefed by Monsieur about the final round at the Nurburgring. He showed us the layout of the track. I thought it's just the Nordschleife, but the GP layout will also be used.

It's called the "24 Hour" layout, where both layouts are combined.


But he also delivers bad news.


The weather isn't cooperative. We are to expect heavy showers, and in the worst case scenario, the starting grid position will be determined by the results of the 4th race; meaning that qualifying will be cancelled.


I am glancing outside, and the skies aren't exactly happy. It's all too dark in the afternoon.




With everything settled, everyone left the room...



...except me.



I'm still questioning myself. Am I really doing well so far? Or am I just being too hard on myself?



Monsieur Louis shakes me.. repeatedly until I get his attention.



"Are you okay?" Louis asked.


"Oh... I'm sorry. Just having deep thoughts." I replied.


"Huh?" Louis asked.


"I'm just... wondering if I'm contributing well to this team. Sure, you've poured all your efforts on the car, settings, and logistics. But am I really pulling well?" I asked.


"Ahahahaha! Of course you do! Look, we are still leading in the championship. We are even surprised that we keep our lead despite the circumstances. Your rivals have the potential too. You know, finishing a race is an achievement in itself already. What more when you land on the podium?

The competition is getting tougher once you step up the level. And what you are doing right now? You deserve more than just a pat on the back. So... don't feel bad, okay?" Louis explained.




He's right. I'm pulling the weight for the team very well. And yeah... landing on the podium is something I can be really proud of. In this grueling world of speed, a race finish is a big achievement in itself.


Celebrate small victories, they say. In turn, they are bound to be much bigger.



Then suddenly, Monsieur pulls up a chair, and sits right in front of me.



"Now that we are the only people in this room, let me tell you something important." Louis said.


"What is it?" I asked.



"The reason why I didn't let you use your number - 21 - and used "17" instead." Louis replied.




I was wondering about that too. But I didn't make a fuss about it since it's just a number.

I guess it's something deep.


What would Monsieur say?





End of Act 9































 
Act 10 - Seventeen



What is he trying to say?

Why are we talking about a number?

For some drivers, they do hold a meaning... but not for me. I just picked mine merely because the others were taken.


Monsieur shows a serious look at me. It's as if I did something offensive.





"I have been yearning to say this for a long time. But because I am handling pretty much everything, I keep on forgetting." Louis said.



"Why are you telling this to me?" I asked.




"You see, I have a heart condition. This heart of mine belonged to someone else's. The person who I viewed as my younger brother gave his life to make me breathe and live out my dreams. Until this day, I am still thinking about him. Then come last year, the doctor who performed the operation asked me to see him and told me that while I can live a normal life with this new heart, I can no longer perform any activity that elevates my heart rate, and that includes racing. You may have seen me race in years and you're wondering why I stopped and poured my efforts in mentoring you instead." Louis explained.


So that explains his inactivity for a year. During his active years, he would spend time guiding me in karting and then he'll race in the next.

"And as you see, that number "17" was also chosen at random. It used to have no meaning, until..."



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"....it bore witness to my smiles, heartbreaks, and tears. It now has value... a meaning. It holds my aspirations. And now, you can fill it with yours. You can add more color in it. Out of all the aspiring drivers I have mentored... you are the only one who I believe to be the worthy successor." Louis said.





Then he places his hand on my shoulder, and shows a smile.


"YOU are the new Zephyr. You... shall be the wind that blows the competition. You have earned this. I will still be your mentor and will do everything to make sure you achieve all of your goals." Louis said.




Wow... to be the successor of The Zephyr himself. It's truly an honor. During my breaks, I used to watch Monsieur Louis and his racing adventures too, not just F1.





Do not worry, Monsieur.





I will proudly hold this mantra. I won't let you down!









I then stand up, then look at Monsieur with pride. I, too, show a smile to confirm my acceptance of the title.










All right... now time to blow away the championship.









**********************************************************************************************









Final Round... Nurburgring in Germany.







And no... we didn't push through with the qualifying because of the dangerous weather conditions. Throughout the week, I familiarized myself in the simulator rig.





In the paddock, as I am doing my warm up stretches, certain individuals pay a visit...





...my grandparents!






"Alphonse! We're here to see our champion!" Soiree said.





"Pépé! Mémé! What a surprise!" I exclaimed.






I hug them ever so tightly. I missed them for weeks! They're the closest thing to being my parents. They supported me every step of the way, and even had loaned money for me to get my first ever go kart.





"You've got to be really careful now, Alphonse. The road is slippery." Jacques said.





"No need to worry. Your grandson is a champion at heart. He will prevail." Louis said.







"Thanks for coming over. I missed you. I'll be the champion. I'll make sure of it." I said.






With my grandparents and Monsieur Louis cheering me on...





...and the team placing their hopes to me.





I now have a renewed drive. I can no longer look back. I am no longer a just a karting champion.





I... AM...





...A REAL RACER.











We are then called to do a formation lap. This is the longest formation lap ever. I see people braving the showers at the Nordschleife section just to watch the action. Talk about dedication. Love it or hate it, the Nurburgring will always have a place in motorsport.
















The grid positions were decided based on our results from the 4th round.







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Giacomo Marelli... he too has improved vastly. I may have more points than him, but I can't afford to mess up in this race either. Team Neo is placed 2nd in points.



The lights show green.


We're off!



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The Veyron has no problems in traction, so it's easy to put pressure on Marelli.


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All right, first place!


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I only have eight laps... well... that's still long considering the track's total length of over 20 kilometers. But anything can happen.

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I can eagerly step on the accelerator out of the turns. The team did their best to make sure this car is sure-footed on the wet.





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Entering the Nordschleife, it's just as scary as the sim would simulate.





Focus... just focus.







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"You are increasing the gap. Well done. How's the traction?" Louis asked.







"Impressive. I can accelerate like on dry." I replied.






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Steady. This is just the beginning.






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Team Neo is getting close.









But the Bugatti's impeccable traction assures me that they won't. Hehe.







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Woah... the droplets have increased further. The skies really poured out today, huh?











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Lap 2... nothing much to report. I am still keeping Team Neo at bay. Monsieur Louis is really a brilliant strategist. Best decision made starting on Wet tires.









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I know that I simply cannot breathe easy when I'm on the lead. But to keep my composure, I simply do not look at the mirrors.


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I am aware that they are close. I can hear different exhaust sounds.


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Lap 3. The rain has finally stopped. There's only a few drops on the windshield.



That could only mean one thing.




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Marelli is ready to attack. The drying up surface can be easier for rear wheel driven vehicles to gain their foothold.



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Just as I predicted. He took advantage of my corner entry understeer. Marelli is someone I can happily trifle with...


...all day.




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Andiamo! As the Italians would say.


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Well then...






...ALLONS-Y! En garde s'il vou plait!



End of Act 10
 
Last edited:
Act 11 - Champion at Heart



We're halfway there. Marelli is putting up a real good fight.

Well, I'm fighting too.


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Intermediates work their best on dampening surfaces. The Giulia glides through the corners like it's dry.

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I'm inching closer on the straights for sure.


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I am simply in awe on how he manages that rear wheel drive saloon on the wet. Wish I could have raced him in my karting days.


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4th lap. Team Neo and Corvette Racing team enter the pits. The surface is almost dry after all.



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For the meantime, we have the entire track all by ourselves. Well... if we don't count the rest of the competition we completely left behind.


I draft behind the Giulia. This is to instill pressure.


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Aha! It worked! He went in too fast on the next corner!



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Sorry, Giacomo. But I have to win this one.


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I wish to know you more, to be honest. You are more tolerable than the pompous Charlie Kesler.


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"Okay, your pace is good. The gap from Marelli has increased." Louis said.




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But I see no signs of giving up, either.



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What the...?!



Argh! Another turn in understeer! I guess it's time to switch tires. Wets are completely useless at this point.


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This feels like we're trading blows. It's as if he delivered a punch to my chin.




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"Time to box now, Alphonse. I am reading data from the telemetry and it seems that the yaw rate is bad. It's now time to use slicks." Louis said.

I replied, "Copy."


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Will the Giulia box in too? Intermediates are known to wear out quickly as well.


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So he enters the pit lane too.


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All right.


Team Neo blazes by and takes the lead.


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"We will switch to Soft tires. Please wait for the fuel as well." Louis said.


"Got it." I replied.


However... there's a sudden setback.


The fuel hose got stuck! It shouldn't take this long. The Giulia already left!

The crew struggled to remove it. After at least 20 seconds, they finally took it off.


Great... I'm now 4th.



"Sorry about that. But don't worry, the soft tires will be enough for you to last the entire run. Just focus and listen to me as well." Louis said.


Nürburgring 24h__18.jpeg




Will I be able to keep up with them?



"We are already leading in points. But if you want to secure the overall win, you'd at least settle for third." Louis said.







"Got it. I can always trust you." I replied.




I trust Monsieur Louis with all my heart. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be here today. He's the best strategist I've ever known.





Another lap has passed. 7th lap now.





And thanks to the track being completely dry and no sign of returning showers, I was able to attack all the corners with gusto.



Now I'm back in the fray.





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Team Neo's AMG is in third.






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Upon exiting the banked Karrusell, I floored it the instant the surface got flat. Four wheel drive can really be addicting.


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You're next, Charlie. Out of my way.









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You want to play, mon ami?





Heh, no use blocking me in this wide straightaway. Better luck next time, mon ami.






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Eh? What's wrong? Box in again? Mechanical trouble, perhaps?



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All right, it's just between me and Marelli at the final lap!


ALLONS-Y!



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However, Monsieur Louis says something different this time around.



"Okay, Alphonse. Keep a steady pace. No use wearing your tires out. You've already won the championship." Louis said.


"But... I can keep up. Right?" I asked.




"I cannot afford risking your life here. You have so much to live for. Let Marelli have his moment. We already have ours." Louis replied.





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"I'd rather have a loser who always comes home safe than a winner who will end up in a coffin. You can beat him next time around. I'd also rather fight and lose than give up without trying." Louis added.


You know what? He's actually right. This is the Nurburgring, after all. If I push it further and lose grip... who knows where I'll end up on?


And no, he doesn't imply that I'm a loser.


True winners also know when to concede.



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And with that, Giacomo Marelli wins again.



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And I came in second once more.


However...


"Félicitations! You are the overall champion, Alphonse Blanchard!" Louis exclaimed.


That was really loud. He was really jovial. I am happy that all of the team's efforts are all worth it.

"WE DID IT! Championship won! GREAT JOB, EVERYONE! Thank you very much, Monsieur! And everyone in the team! You all did a wonderful job! Magnifique! Pépé and Mémé... thank you very much." I replied.


"Exceptional job, Alphonse. Dinner's on me." Louis said.


Tears are rolling down my cheeks. I'm a world champion yet again, this time on a higher level.

Who would have thought? That I got out from going around circles in tiny go karts to driving real performance cars.

There's more to go. But I'm getting close.




During the podium celebrations, my grandparents rush and then hug me. They are definitely euphoric, seeing their grandson getting another large gold trophy.



"I did it. I won. But this is just the beginning." Alphonse said.


"You are always our winner, Alphonse." Soiree said.


"Grandmère, I will still hold on to my promise. I will win my first Formula 1 race. I will work hard to achieve that." Alphonse said.


Just you wait, F1 superstars.


I, too, will stand on the podium alongside you.


Then I look at the bright sun shining down upon us.



Mr. Kevin Kern? Were you watching me? Did I make you proud too? This race is also for you.




End of Act 11
























 
Act 12 - Nouveau






That evening, a gala event was held. We were on our best clothing.

The overall winners were called, and when it was my turn, the applause got louder and even a standing ovation.


It's overwhelming. My grandparents were beside me, obviously looking very delighted.

Monsieur Louis was in the front row, even showing a thumbs up.



Ahhh... what a night. I hope it never ended. Pretty sure I will be in more gatherings like these.




********************************************************************************************************

Two weeks later.

Pépé managed to buy a large glass cabinet. All three of us help him put it in the living room. There's still a lot of space.


And I put in the World Touring Car Championship trophy on the top level. Oh, you might be wondering, my karting trophies are in my room. They'll stay there.


Okay, now time to return for my gardening duties.


I prepared the hose and attached it in the faucet. I let the water flow and off I sprinkle on the flowers.

Just be careful... you don't want to kill Mémé's marigolds.


Then suddenly, Pépé calls me. I quickly placed down the hose and stopped the water flow from the faucet.


"Alphonse, Monsieur Montagny wants to see you." Jacques said.


Monsieur Louis? Why? What surprise does he have in store?

Oh, there he is.


"Oh bonjour, Monsieur..." Alphonse greeted.

"How's our champion? Hehehe." Louis said.

"Still having this hangover. Hehe. Well, we have bought a glass cabinet for trophies." I replied.

"Nice. That's good, since you have more opportunities awaiting. I came here to ask if you are available. I'll take you somewhere special." Louis said.

"Uh... well..." I said.

Not sure if I can leave. I have no race at the moment, am I right?


"It's okay. You can take him. Jacques said.


"Are you sure, grandpère? Will you both be okay?" I asked.


"Ah, don't undermine us. We are still strong. Go, you have to hang out with a friend sometime." Jacques said.


"Let's go, then?" Louis said.


I see his Chiron outside. I bet he'll take me somewhere far. I know that. Better pack a set of clothes and toiletries, then.

I sorted out my things upstairs. My backpack is big enough for traveling. I just hope I won't be out for long.




All right. Zipper closed. Time to head downstairs.


As I head down, Mémé opens my backpack and puts snacks in. She knows that I'll be out for days, but she trusts Monsieur so much that's why they don't mind me going out with him.



"Don't forget to eat some when you're hungry, okay?" Soiree said.

"Okay. Thank you. Let's go." I replied with a smile.


We then head out, and before I can enter Monsieur's Bugatti Chiron, I wave my hand goodbye to both of them.

Don't worry, I won't be out for long.





Montsoreau_.jpeg




As we are traveling, I look at the green meadows, a sign that we are outside Marseilles. Yeah, I'm right. I'm definitely sleeping somewhere else.







"Where are we going?" I asked.


"Somewhere just nearby, in a Renault facility." Louis replied.


"Renault?" I asked.


"Yes. There is something special in store for you. You will LOVE it." Louis said with a smile.



There he goes again with his suspense. He loves surprising people, huh?







Half an hour later, we arrive at the said facility. This is just one among Renault's car storage facilities. But the location is somehow nearby Marseilles.



It's large. I am seeing containers and cars left and right. I see the typical Scenic, Clio, Megane, Captur, and the miniscule Twingo being prepped for shipping.



Next, we enter the reception hall. Two men approach us immediately. We shake hands with them and exchange pleasantries. They are named Andre and Gabriel. Without further adieu, they lead us to a garage.



As we stopped... my jaw dropped.


Woah...



pit-garage_-jpeg.1355559



Three racing cars. I'll drive all of them? And the one in the middle....



...is that... an F1 car?

"Wow... and... is that an F1 car in the middle?" I asked.



"Monsieur Blanchard, that is the Alpine SFA23. It is our entry in the Super Formula series which recently announced to have gone global along with new regulations. Super Formula cars are on a lower level compared to Formula 1, but they are definitely faster than an F2. This is a rare opportunity given to talents like you. Alphonse Blanchard, we have observed countless potential drivers as of late, and your victory have made us amazed the most. Hence why, we are offering you a wonderful opportunity to race for Alpine BWT in various discplines." Andre explained.



I'm overwhelmed. This is awesome! I can't even reply. More opportunities have opened, including the Super Formula series.

I have known that the SF is based in Japan. They have gone global now, huh? Time to make my mark there too.



"Oh... sorry. I'm just taking this all in. Wow!" I exclaimed.


I then walk around the SFA23. Yeah, it does look different from a Formula 1 car. For one, there's no active flap on the rear wing. No DRS, then. There's also the mandatory Halo protection.



"We believe you are the prime candidate to represent us and... turn our fortunes around. You can change the status quo." Gabriel said.



"That is right. But of course, the new Super Formula season will begin next year. For now, you have to prove to us that you have what it takes." Andre said.

"We will call you occasionally for pre-season testing sessions for the Super Formula car, but most of the time, you will be racing the other two cars." Gabriel said.



This is impressive! A chance to get into Formula 1! I will not let you down, guys. And thank you so much, Monsieur Montagny. I... don't know how to repay you." I said.



I'm ready to sign. This is a grand opportunity only a fool would pass up on.


"Ahahahahaha! You don't have to worry about that, mon ami. All you need to do is focus on your future. That is all I am asking." Louis said.


"I'm game. I'll take on the next challenge." I said.




Gabriel then shakes my hand.




"Welcome aboard." Gabriel said.



We wait for around half an hour for the contracts to be prepared. Once they arrive, Monsieur takes time in reading the conditions first.

He then shows a smile... and nods. A sign that it falls in our favor.


I then take a pen, and signed my name on the contract.




A new chapter opens.


And I'm ready to take on the challenges ahead. Bring it on.





**********************************************************************************************


After that brief, but memorable meeting with the Alpine executives, Monsieur and I leave, but this time around we are heading to Austria. Apparently, we also have a meeting set for tomorrow.


To the Best Water Technology headquarters. It's going to be a long drive. But the Chiron is comfy and I can sleep during it.


After ten hours... we finally made it. We are in Mondsee.


We checked in at an hotel nearby the BWT headquarters. We settled in, and I just jumped on the bed. Maybe I spent a lot of energy being too happy with the
new racing opportunity.



Bonne nuit...








The next day, I woke up... fresh as a daisy. After taking a shower and put on a new set of clothes, we head straight to BWT's headquarters.


Upon entering, we are then greeted by a secretary who then leads us to the CEO's office.

His name is Andreas Weissenbacher, and we exchanged greetings.




"I have finally met the Alphonse Blanchard. A promising young talent. I have read about your karting exploits, and your recent victory in the World Touring Car Championship. I take it that you signed the contract with Alpine, yes?" Andreas said.


"Yes sir. It's a grand opportunity. And... thank you for giving me such privilege. I won't let you down and I'll do my best." I replied.


"Brilliant. BWT has always been at the forefront in motorsport. We have experienced success
from various talents, and we expect the same from you." Andreas said.


"Now, please follow me, I will lead you to your next assignment." he added.



Next assignment? Already? Hehehe.. no rest for the wicked, then.




He leads us to a lot, and he takes a veil off and reveals...



Parking Structure_.jpeg




....a pink Ferrari F8. Well, BWT's signature color is pink after all. But a pink Ferrari is a sight to behold, a break from the usual red.


But judging from its lower stance, that big rear wing and a body kit, it seems to be prepped for racing.



"As you can see, this is our first time entering the Ferrari Challenge series. And to be honest, it is a gamble. Now, we hope that you will take the bet and turn our fortune around." Andreas said.


Parking Structure__1.jpeg




I then put up a smile.



"I'm not the one who backs down without a fight. I welcome the challenge." I replied.





********************************************************************************************************



Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C_.jpeg



Music: Pompeii by Bastille


Seems like my racing career officially takes off. I'm no longer stuck in go karts. I am now piloting true racing machines.



Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__1.jpeg



I am expecting tougher challenges ahead.


And with Monsieur Louis entrusting his dreams to me...



Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__2.jpeg




Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__3.jpeg




...I WON'T FAIL HIM. That's the least I can do for him after everything he did for me.





ALLONS-Y!






**********************************************************************************************



MEANWHILE, IN PARIS...






In the FIA Headquarters, a meeting was adjourned. Esteemed guests have exited the building, and the new president Noel Chevalier returns to his office.





To ease himself a bit, he grabs a glass and puts ice cubes in it. Then he pours scotch. He then takes a gulp.







As he helps himself further, he sees a white envelope being slid under the door gap. He approaches it and picks it up.





"Who sent this?" Noel asked himself.







He tears open the envelope and takes out the piece of paper while still holding the glass.









After unfolding, he reads the contents...









....and it made Noel drop his glass, shattering it on the floor.











Alleged Father: Noel Chevalier

Mother: Olivia Blanchard

Child: Alphonse Blanchard





Probability of Paternity: 99.8%














Noel gasps and shakes upon reading the revelation. Who had performed such paternity test?













"Mon dieu!" Noel exclaimed.















He tightens his grip on the paper, to the point of crumpling it.























THE END



































 
Last edited:

INIZIARE


Death Valley_.jpeg



Now that Giacomo Marelli has made his name in the racing world following his success in the World Touring Car Championship, he takes a step forward in his career.

Along the way, he uncovers the truth about the circumstances leading to his father's downfall in the world of motorsports.



TIMELINE: Set after the events of Neo.



NEW CHARACTERS:


Cesar Vasquez:



Nationality: Spanish
Age: 35
Bio:

Hailing from Barcelona, Spain, Cesar Vasquez is well known figure in high levels of motorsport, shuffling between the FIA WEC and Super Formula series under the Red Bull Racing group. He has been offered a seat in the Formula 1, but he chose to settle in the prototype racing in the meantime as he wishes to avoid the excessive exposure that F1 brings. He is the current teammate of Benjamin Kanonji in the Red Bull Racing Super Formula team, and coaches him not just in racing strategies, but also in Spanish language in their free time.

He has a Belgian wife named Charlotte who he met in his formative years of motorsport career, and they bore a child named Angelica. His daughter and Benjamin often play together in the paddock, and even considers him as her "Tio Ben", although usually Cesar corrects her by instructing her to call his teammate as her "Hermano".

Aside from his impressive racing resume, he has a talent for cooking, which Benjamin always craves for whenever they meet on the track.

In addition, he is a staunch supporter of the Catalan Independence Movement, often seen in protests in the streets of Barcelona, which makes him a fan favorite in the Catalonia region and his fans stir up loud cheering noises whenever he races in Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.



Enzo Pianizzi:


Nationality: Italian
Age: 25

Bio:


Enzo is the son of a high-ranking FIA Executive named Guillermo Pianizzi. He has a younger sibling named Antonio. Both he and Antonio competed in the World Touring Car Championship in hopes of rivaling Giacomo Marelli only to fail due to varying circumstances. Despite that, Enzo isn't discouraged to resume his career.

With the pressure coming from his father, stemming from his rivalry with the once-famous Benito Marelli, Enzo starts to distance away from his father, vowing to compete against Giacomo in his own terms. He will slowly find out that there is more than just a tryst that ultimately befell Benito.






ACT 1: Payback Time


Location: Milan, Italy
Time: 6 pm



"Okay! The event starts in an hour! We'd better get moving!" shouted an organizer.


Turns out, it's an event organizer from Ferrari themselves. A special unveiling event will take place, typical of Ferrari for creating theatrics in every major step they make.


In the caravan, eating a piece of chocolate is none other than Giacomo Marelli. Having been successful in the recently concluded World Touring Car Championship, he was offered with a lucrative opportunity working for Ferrari, which he immediately accepts seeing that it will give his portfolio a boost.


A hair stylist enters, and Giacomo sits on the chair, wearing a white shirt but with slacks on the bottom. The artist starts combing his hair, straight back.


"Would you like a gelled back, Mr. Marelli?" the stylist asked.

"Yes. And will there be make up too?" Giacomo replied.

"Yes sir, she will be coming shortly." the stylist replied.


Giacomo looks at his smartphone. His father, Benito Marelli, has sent an SMS.


"Is the event in Milan starting?"

To which Giacomo replies:


"In an hour, yes. Wish you are here."

And then Benito responds with:


"Sorry. I'm too preoccupied at the moment. And you know, me being there might draw unwanted attention."


Giacomo can only react with a smirk and just locked his phone. Moments later, the make up artist enters as well, switching places with the hair stylist once Giacomo's hair has settled.


A few brushes here and there, with powder to remove some bits of oil on his face, emphasizing further his light complexion.


After half an hour in make up and final touches in his hair, Giacomo thanks the styling team, and then proceeds to wear his tuxedo. He then applies a dab of Armani perfume.


At 7 pm, the plaza in Milan is finally closed off, attracting the attention of the locals and even the tourists. They see red trailer trucks parked in one of the entrances, with two veiled low slung machines being pushed out to the center.


Special guests have been allowed access. They also wear in their best suits and gowns.


Giacomo finally comes out, joining him is none other than Pietro Guidicelli. The two men look at the photographers and reporters.


"I guess this is how Ferrari rolls..." Giacomo said.



"They are extravagant as always. Do not be surprised anymore." Pietro replied.


Then a man named Luca goes to the center stage, with microphone on hand to make an official announcement. Behind him are two female models wearing evening burgundy gowns holding the veils of each car.


"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight you are about to witness another history in the making for Ferrari. For the first time in its 75-year history, we are setting foot in another formula category, providing opportunities for aspiring Formula 1 drivers."


"Without further adieu, let me introduce to you our latest project." Luca said, as he makes a cue for the two ladies to pull off the veils.

The audience applauds upon seeing the two new Ferrari Super Formula machines, adorned in the traditional Rosso Scuderia paint similar to their Formula 1 machines, along with their new sponsor, HP.



galleria-vittorio-emanuele-ii_-jpeg.1355558


"We present to you, the Ferrari La Super Formula. Made possible with the collaboration of Dallara." Luca said.


"And of course, our distinguished individuals who will pilot them to victory. Mr. Giacomo Marelli driving the number 40 car, and Mr. Pietro Guidicelli driving the number 45 car." Luca said, as the two men join him.



Camera flashes intensify as the photographers want to get the best shots of the cars and drivers.


Both Giacomo and Pietro look at the various cameras swarming around them, smiling and briefly waving their hands.


Then they have dispersed, Giacomo interacts with the other guests while enjoying the cocktails, sharing some more information about the Super Formula series as directed by their chief director named Anselmo De Rossi, as if having memorized a script.


Then a female journalist arrives, in the name of Mila Janson. Giacomo somewhat recognizes her since he saw her often in the championship tending to her late boyfriend, Kevin Kern, in the paddock.



"Good evening, Mr. Giacomo Marelli. I am Mila Janson of Unicorn Media. A pleasure to meet you." Mila greeted.

"Nice to meet you too. You look familiar. I saw you often in the championship." Giacomo replied.

"Oh I see." Mila said with smirk.

"I assume you have questions?" Giacomo asked.

"Yes I do. But since we are in a huge event I simply can't indulge. And you know Ferrari." Mila replied.

"Smart decision, to be honest. Well, you can ask me... in private." Giacomo said.

Then he takes out a small piece of paper out of his pocket. He gets a pen from the other, and then proceeds to write his personal e-mail address. He slowly slides the paper with his hand.


"I know I can trust you. You effectively toppled down FIA's big bad. I wish I can be as bold as you." Giacomo said.


Mila smiles, and she places the paper in her blazer's inner pocket.


"Good luck, Mr. Marelli. And I must take my leave. Please enjoy the rest of the evening." Mila said and then she turns back, walking nonchalantly through esteemed guests.


As for Giacomo, he looks at her exiting the premises. But the tension was quickly quelled when Pietro taps on his shoulder.


"Hey, some celebrities want to have a word." Pietro said.


"Oh sure. Great." Giacomo said as he turns around and joins his teammate in banter.



********************************************************************************************************


Location: Ferrari headquarters, Maranello, Italy
Time: 9 am, one week later





A week after, Giacomo and Pietro are summoned to the headquarters in Maranello.


The pair wait at the reception.



"We have a next assignment." Giacomo said.

"Well, Ferrari's peeps are busy bees. And so will we." Pietro replied.

"I'm rather excited to test the Super Formula. But I assume that won't be today." Giacomo said.

"And lemme tell you, Ferrari isn't what how the media and memes portray it to be. I've worked with them for years. So... you can let loose, you know?" Pietro said.

Giacomo giggles. And then Anselmo finally arrives.



"Apologies to have kept you waiting. Please follow me. I shall show you to your next assignment." Anselmo said.

"You know, you can at least be a little more casual." Pietro said.


They make their way outdoors, and they are greeted by two Ferrari F8 Challenge race cars, donning in matte red livery like a facsimile of their Formula 1 cars.



Museo Enzo Ferrari_.jpeg


Pietro goes straight to work, taking out his smartphone and recording a video, going around the pair of cars, in order to show them to his and other Ferrari fans.


"We will be competing in the Ferrari Challenge series next month, so testing shall be done immediately. As a works team, both of you shall race, and we are the only one to do so. The rest are privateers, and to make it a little more exciting...



...some familiar faces have joined the fray." Anselmo said with a smirk.



"Any word on the specifications?" Giacomo asked.



"Power has been boosted to 740 horsepower. Engine components are changed to make sure they take on the grueling tasks ahead. Electronic turbos have been improved based on the findings from the Scuderia Formula 1 team. Of course, all of these modifications have made their way in to the privateers' cars as well." Anselmo explained.


"Sounds good. And I guess I will be having a tougher competition now that you mentioned "familiar" faces." Giacomo said.


"Oh absolutely. You will be in for a treat. Didn't you say you want to be in F1?" Anselmo said.


"Yes. But I know it will be a long, arduous path ahead." Giacomo replied.


Then a photographer arrives, and asks for the three men to assemble for a shoot. It will be posted in their social media pages.




********************************************************************************************************



After that brief appointment and as well as having familiarized the tournament structure, Giacomo takes his leave and goes for a drive in the hills nearby Lake Maggiore.


He stops at bay area, taking in the view of the Alps, and also taking photos for him to post on his social media page.



Bernina Pass_.jpeg


As the cold mountain air seeps in his skin, he takes a deep sigh. Working for a prestigious team such as Ferrari may have its perks, but it also comes with numerous stipulations.



"I don't care whatever the hell Ferrari is telling me to do. I'll just do them. No matter what, I'll set things right. This is the only way I know how." Giacomo said to himself.



Suddenly, the serenity is interrupted by a phone call. It's from his father.



"Ciao." Giacomo greeted.


"Will you be having dinner at home tonight?" Benito asked.


"Yes. I'll just have a brief run in the Maggiore circuit then go home. I want to have fun for a bit." Giacomo replied.


"Okay. Your mother will be preparing Tagliatelle. Better be home." Benito said.


"Alright. I love you, Papa." Giacomo said.


"Love you, son." Benito said. The call cuts off.


Giacomo places his phone in his pocket. Then he enters the car and leaves.



********************************************************************************************************


An hour later, Giacomo enters the Autodromo Lago Maggiore circuit. The circuit has done some major revisions a few years back, with more layouts added as well as improving the size of runoff areas.


He sees some cars entering and leaving the track, indicating that it is an open track day for enthusiasts. However, one familiar face is seen in the pit garage.


Exiting from a modified summit blue Alpine A110 are two individuals, namely Alphonse Blanchard and Louis Montagny. Giacomo feels delight as he sees his friend and rival.


Alphonse notices Giacomo as well, and when the two meet, they gave each other a brotherly hug.


"It's been a while, mon ami." Giacomo said.


"How are you doing?" Alphonse said.


"Having fun. And... fooling around for a bit. Hehe." Giacomo said.


"Hey, I'll follow your Instagram, okay?" Alphonse said.


"Thanks." Giacomo said.


"We're here because this is where the first round of the Ferrari Challenge will take place. We want to be familiar on this track." Alphonse said.


Upon hearing it, Giacomo's day is completely made. He finally has someone to look forward to in racing, and Alphonse can only provide him with a worthy challenge.


"You're joining too?" Giacomo asked.


"Wait. You are going to be on that championship?" Alphonse asked as well.


"Yes. Seems like we will be playing once more." Giacomo said.


"Great! Now I'm already excited." Alphonse said.


Giacomo then turns his attention to the Alpine.


"Alpine? Seems like a nice change from the Bugatti. No offense, but I don't like Bugattis. Hehe." Giacomo said.


"Oh you're just saying that because it gave you a hard time. Hahaha!" Alphonse said.


"Hehehe. Gotta admit, you are right. Hey, want to have a run?" Giacomo asked.


"Sure. Let's... practice." Alphonse said.



The pair then head out on the track. Louis is in the passenger seat of the Alpine.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course_.jpeg


Music: Comment Faire - Plastiscines




Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__1.jpeg



With the widened stance and helpings of aero parts, the Alpine is far from standard.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__2.jpeg


As evidenced with its rocket like corner exit speed.


"Woah! That's more than a pocket rocket!" Giacomo commented.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__3.jpeg



Giacomo's Giulia GTA may have more power, but the Alpine is more than eager to show its racing heritage.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__4.jpeg



"Hey hey! Where's that fighting spirit, amico mio?" Alphonse teased. Louis smirks upon hearing that.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__5.jpeg



Giacomo increases his pace, then puts up a grin.


"Belissimo... this is what I always want from you!" Giacomo exclaimed.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__6.jpeg




Seeing that his rival kept up, Alphonse puts up a smile.


"I'm a lot more excited for the championship now!" Alphonse exclaimed.


"Hehe. Very good. That's the motivation." Louis said.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__7.jpeg



The A110's agility is something that the Giulia struggles to match.




"Okay, back then I was the agile one. Now the tables have turned." Giacomo remarked.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__8.jpeg



With a considerable gap between them, Giacomo lets off the accelerator.




Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__9.jpeg



"Okay. You got your payback. Hehe." Giacomo said.




********************************************************************************************************


Location: Pianizzi residence, Brescia, Lombardy
Time: 7 pm




As the sun sets, majority of the people choose to settle in their homes especially on a Sunday.


In a mansion in Brescia, there resides the Pianizzis. The family has made a fortune out of selling cheese in the 1800s, which eventually have turned into a conglomerate which the successors enjoy today.



Guillermo, one of the FIA executives, is the patriarch. He and his wife have parted ways, but they do gather together on some occasions. His children, Enzo and Antonio may not have chosen to take over the cheese making business, but they become successes in their own rights.


Enzo and Antonio competed in the World Touring Car Championship, but they have concluded without even a podium finish. Antonio decides to resume his social media presence while his older brother did not let that loss stop him.



The three are about to have dinner. Guillermo has served the dishes.



"Let us eat." Guillermo said.


Enzo helps himself with meals, and peculiarly, does not make any eye contact with his father.


"Enzo. Enzo?" Guillermo called.


"Yes, papa?" Enzo said.


"You have been... avoiding me since the championship. Is there a problem?" Guillermo asked.


"Nothing. I am just... thinking too much." Enzo said.


"Well, you just keep on racing. And besides, that Marelli guy is going to compete in the Ferrari Challenge." Guillermo said.


Enzo places down the utensils with some force.


"Are you obsessed with the Marellis?" Enzo asked.


"Woah." Antonio said.


"Remember, Benito is the sole reason why your mother and I parted ways. No need to repeat myself of that." Guillermo said.


"Then face him personally. I'm not a pawn." Enzo said.


"I'm not telling you to do something drastic. I just want you to beat his son." Guillermo said.


"By MY own terms." Enzo said.


"Bro, what's wrong?" Antonio asked.


"Both of you just don't get it. I'm done here." Enzo said.



Enzo stands up. His plate has some bits of sauce left.



Enzo proceeds to the foyer, and enters in his Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.



Piazza San Firenze_.jpeg




"I'm not going to let my life be dictated by some family scandal. Why can't that old man face his own nemesis?" Enzo asked himself.





End of Act 1


















 
Act 2 - On The Level




Location: Autodromo Lago Maggiore
Time: 10 am, three weeks later




The first round of the Ferrari Challenge is in full swing. No weather anomalies were reported; all the more reason for the teams give their all.


As for the Ferrari works team, they are busy round the clock, having arrived at the track as early as 4 am with the other teams following suit an hour later. The drivers were, of course, given time to sleep to rejuvenate themselves before the race.

Accompanying Giacomo is his father, Benito. As an ex-F1 driver himself, he knows all too well how he cannot disturb the flow state of everyone in the team. He merely observes, with his arms crossed.

He would then proceed to his son's mini quarters. He slowly opens the door, assuming he's asleep. But upon fully opening, he already sees Giacomo doing push ups, wearing a red long-sleeved undershirt typically worn underneath racing overalls.


"Giac, you're already awake." Benito said.

"Ah, yes Papa." Giacomo replied, then jumping up and down to keep himself warmed up, along with a brief shadow boxing jabs.


"I'm sure you can win this. I think I no longer have to give you advice." Benito said.

"You can always give some." Giacomo replied.


"Well... I heard that Enzo Pianizzi is also here, might as well keep your guard." Benito said.

"I cannot afford to worry about one single person." Giacomo said.

"I see. If anything, he's the more sensible one." Benito said.

"Level-headed, yes. But you are right, I have to be on my guard." Giacomo replied.

Giacomo heads outside, with his father following suit. He proceeds to his car, and then his personal strategist named Filippo De Luca approaches him. De Luca is in his 40s, and has won the British Touring Car Championship three times in his youth. He was personally scouted by Benito himself along with Ferrari's approval.


"Good morning, Mr. Marelli. Have you gotten enough rest for today? We can start the qualifying as you wish." De Luca said.

"Is the car prepped?" Giacomo asked.

"Yes, signore. But of course you must get the feel for it and then adjust when needed." De Luca said.

And then Pietro, also fully awake, joins them.

"What a tough crowd we have. We are only twelve racers this year, but..." Pietro said.

"....they are mostly intimidating." De Luca said.

"I've known all too well that the Ferrari Challenge is mostly swarmed by Ferrari's most loyal clientele. However, this one is going to be much different." Benito said.


Music: Initial D Fourth Stage Sound Files - Toudou Juuku



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course_.jpeg


They hear and see a glimpse of one of those Ferraris blitzing by the main straight.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__1.jpeg



"To think F1 drivers have joined in too." Benito said.

"F1 drivers, huh? That's rad." Pietro remarked.

"So this is the "familiar faces" part that Mr. De Rossi mentioned." Giacomo said.

"Kevin Magnussen, and..."


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__2.jpeg



"...Lewis Hamilton." De Luca added.


Giacomo gasps upon hearing those names.


"Unbelievable. This is indeed the next level." Giacomo commented.


"And the most dominant racing team at the moment..."



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__4.jpeg



"...Red Bull Racing." Benito said.


"Cesar Vasquez. A Spanish racer who won the Super Formula championship more than once. He was offered a seat in the Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 team but declined, apparently. Even so, he's definitely up to par with the F1 drivers." De Luca said.


And add to that, of course, his rival Alphonse is giving his all as well.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__3.jpeg



"Can we even score points here? This is all too intimidating!" Pietro exclained.


Giacomo then zips up his racing overalls, then grabs his helmet.


"Well, we'll never know unless we try." Giacomo said, as he opens the door to his F8 Challenge. He sits down and straps in his harness.

He then initiates the starting sequence, and finally the F8 breathes into life. The car exits the pit lane, officially starting the qualifying runs.


As the F8 speeds through, crowds especially the Tifosi are cheering, upon seeing the iconic red paint that they are very well accustomed with.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__5.jpeg


While wrestling the car into precision, Giacomo sinks into his thoughts.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__6.jpeg



"Honestly, I'm... intimidated. Scared. Never thought I'd jump into this." Giacomo thought.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__7.jpeg




"But I can no longer look back now. If I will get into Formula 1, then I might as be accustomed to people like them!" Giacomo thought.



Giacomo then pours all his efforts nailing every apex, letting no doubt cloud his judgement.




The next day... race day.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__8.jpeg



The cars have assembled into a grid start method, according to their best qualifying times. To the shock of absolutely no one, Red Bull Racing takes the pole.


Alphonse starts at 2nd, and Giacomo at 3rd. Pietro starts at 6th, behind Magnussen and Hamilton.


"I would consider this as a miracle..." Giacomo thought, as he tightens his grip on the multi-function racing steering wheel.



3... 2... 1....



And it's lights out and away they go.



Crowds cheer as all twelve F8 Challenges launch their way.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__9.jpeg




"Alphonse... and then now F1 drivers? Bring it on, world." Giacomo thought.






End of Act 2









 
Act 3 - Stagnation



Tension ramps up in a blink of an eye as the 1st round begins. With racing stalwarts such as a Super Formula champion and Formula 1 drivers handed to him, Giacomo already feels overwhelmed.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course_.jpeg



So much so, that Magnussen immediately overtakes him at the exit of turn 2, dropping him at 4th.


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"Dammit... there's just too much!" Giacomo exclaimed.

De Luca is responsible for guiding Giacomo through the communications.


"This is just the beginning, please calm down." De Luca said.

"Sorry. I was taking these all in." Giacomo said.


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Meanwhile, Pietro stays within Giacomo's tail.


"I'm trying to imagine how Giacomo is feeling right now. This is totally next level lit." Pietro remarked.


Meanwhile, Alphonse Blanchard is widening the lead, aiming to catch Cesar Vasquez.


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"At least Alphonse is having a somehow better time out there." Giacomo thought.


Then on the banked hairpin, Magnussen brake checks. Giacomo reflexively steps on the brake pedal, and then rapidly sawing the steering wheel to keep the car in check.


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Music: Initial D Sound Files - Todo Juku


"S**t!" Giacomo exclaimed.

"K-Mag is known for that kind of tactic. Though he isn't the most celebrated driver on the grid, he is still an F1 driver." De Luca explained.

"Yeah... and people still give flak on F1 drivers not being real athletes." Giacomo replied.


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"Even if he is deemed the worst, F1 drivers are gods! I am a mere mortal compared to them!" Giacomo thought.


Then Alphonse makes a move...


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...and finally snatches the lead.


Giacomo keeps it at 4th. Jealousy enters his thoughts.


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"You really gotta hand it to Alphonse. Look at how he just took the lead in one lap. I mean, I had to pour all of my efforts to beat him in the WTCC back then." Giacomo thought.


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"I'm basically chasing gods, and Alphonse is now one of them. Can I even stand alongside them?" he added.


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Giacomo tightens his grip on the wheel as doubt and anxiety further cloud his thoughts.


"Do I even deserve to be here?!" he asked himself, with sweat pouring out from his forehead.


Meanwhile, Enzo Pianizzi, keeping a steady pace at 7th, observes Giacomo from afar.


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"I wish you no ill will as a rival. I will beat you in my own terms. My father did something questionable, and I am trying to believe that."
Enzo thought.


Back in the front row, Magnussen further agitates Giacomo with his defense, intentionally applying the anchors on mid-corner to throw his pursuer off guard.


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"When I get into F1, I hope I don't bump into you." Giacomo thought.



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Alphonse has spread a 4-second gap away from Cesar.


While Giacomo struggles to get past the Danish defender.


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"Gotta get past K-Mag. I can't let it stay like this." Giacomo said.


"Be aggressive as he is. Even he will falter." De Luca responded.


"I'll give that a try." Giacomo replied.


Giacomo now increases his pace, taking opportunity in joining the tow.


Music: Initial D 4th State Sound Files - Anger


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For few more laps, Giacomo's gap has shortened thanks to the three cars forming a train.


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"That's it. Stay within the tow." De Luca said.




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"Vasquez is actually closing in. Stay within the tow." De Luca added.


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While it may look to the spectators that Alphonse is attacking with everything he got, De Luca thinks otherwise.


"Alphonse's pace has dropped. He may have started on Mediums." De Luca reported.


De Luca is proven right, as Giacomo once again sees a speck of Alphonse's car.


"All right, our strategy worked!" Giacomo exclaimed.

"Keep it steady, Marelli." De Luca replied.


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And then on the 17th lap, Alphonse boxes in.


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"Okay, Alphonse has boxed in. This is our chance." De Luca said.



With Giacomo now on the top three, he firms his grip on the wheel.


"All right. We're on a roll. 8 laps left." Giacomo said.


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But anything can happen... Giacomo simply cannot afford to rest easy.




End of Act 3
 
Last edited:
Act 4 - Blunder



With Alphonse now at the back end due to a pit stop, Giacomo capitalizes it with the tires still having some grip left due to them being Hard compounds.


Music: Pompeii (Kat Krazy Remix) - Bastille



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"Okay Giac, take advantage of the situation. You still have grip left, I suppose." De Luca said.

"Confirmed." Giacomo replied.



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However, after another lap, Giacomo feels something...



"But what is this feeling... something heavy? No, it isn't from the car...." Giacomo wondered.


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As he ponders, his French rival is storming through, with a fresh set of Soft compounds.


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De Luca immediately alerts Giacomo.


"Giac, your best friend is joining you.... rapidly." De Luca said.


Giacomo puts up a smirk, not just in anticipation but also to relieve some of the tension he had pent up so far.


"I knew it... heh." Giacomo replied.


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Pietro is completely awestruck at Alphonse's comeback.


"Already?!" Pietro exclaimed.



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Giacomo feels excessive wheel feedback, a sign that the tires are on their way out, while unaware that Alphonse is right on his tail.



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"I think I have to box now." Giacomo said.

"Confirmed box." De Luca replied.


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Alphonse overtakes Giacomo on the outside.



"Yeah, I'm already out of grip. I'll copy you later." Giacomo said.


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The rest of the competition box in as well, for their much needed tire change and refuel.


And then Alphonse is still on attack mode...



Music: Initial D 4th Stage Sound Files - Attack! II


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Giacomo returns to his earlier predicament, still cannot penetrate Magnussen's defense.


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"Back to square one." Giacomo said.


And the Spaniard shows a noticeable increase in his pace.


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"Magnussen and Vasquez are fired up. Better keep riding on the train." De Luca said.


"I'm trying. Those two are wickedly fast." Giacomo replied.


With Alphonse far out of reach and a two laps left, Giacomo quashes the thought of getting the win.


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"Can I even get to second? Catching Alphonse is out of the question now." Giacomo wondered.



Then suddenly. De Luca looks at the telemetry and his widened. The fuel levels are low.


"You gotta box, Giacomo. Your fuel levels are low." De Luca said.


Giacomo gets frantic, it's second to the last lap, and this sort of issue comes at a very crucial moment.


"But I thought you refueled?" Giacomo asked.


"We did. We put enough fuel." De Luca replied.


"But... how?" Giacomo wondered.


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Apparently, Vasquez faces the same predicament.


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Giacomo has no choice to comply. Pietro takes the third spot.


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"I'll leave the rest to you, Pietro. I'm done." Giacomo said, as he now slumps into disappointment.


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"But I'll definitely get you next time, Alphonse." Giacomo thought.






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Giacomo manages to get out just fast enough to secure 10th. Enzo is behind him.



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The race ends with Alphonse taking the win in the first round.


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Magnussen takes second. A podium finish for him after what seems to be an eternity.


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And the last person to join the podium is none other Pietro.


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Giacomo finishes 10th.



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"Unbelievable. But guess I am to blame." Giacomo pondered.





In the podium celebration, the three racers sprinkle champagne at each other. Alphonse is the most euphoric of them all.



Giacomo can only look at the three, and still applauds despite feeling some bit of jealousy.





He then meets up with De Luca and his father to discuss what went wrong.



"I know what caused the blunder. You." Benito said.


Giacomo looks down and shakes his head.


"You were so desperate in getting the first, that you brought out the maximum out of the engine despite limited fuel, something you shouldn't have done." Benito explained.


"You're right..." Giacomo replied.


"The crew did their best, and so they are not to blame. Giac, you must know very well, that things do not always go as planned. You did your best. We can always fight back up." Benito said, as he places his hand on his son's shoulder.



"Grazie, Papa." Giacomo said, and then shows a smile. Benito reciprocates and gives his son a hug.





End of Act 4
 
Act 5 - Il Toro Rosso (Part 1)





Location: Milan, Italy
Time: 10 am, the next day




Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region of Italy, is well-known for its cosmopolitan and high end living that attracts the affluent. Fashion brands such as Versace, Prada and Armani have set up headquarters.


A supercar wouldn't be out of place in such a metropolis, such as Mila's Audi R8.


Assisi_.jpeg


The car was gifted by her late boyfriend, Kevin, before he had passed on. She picked only the base model.

Now, why would she travel all the way to Italy? For her job, of course. Unicorn Media covers European news and documentaries of all kinds, aside from the usual global ones.


She then enters in a parking lot. The parking lot in question belongs to the Formaggio di Pianizzi, a leading cheese manufacturer in Europe.


Las Vegas Parking Lot_.jpeg


The factory itself is situated in the outskirts of Milan, so the building she's currently in is the corporate headquarters.


After securing permission to enter, she waits in the reception area, sitting on a lime green couch. She plays with her pen on her hand, and her hard bound notebook is on her lap.

Turns out, she has an appointment... and this time around, she was requested by a certain individual. She definitely anticipates for something. Why would someone ask for an interview?



The secretary approaches her, and then the pair make their way to the CEO's office. The secretary then opens the door for her.

The CEO, a man named Francisco Pianizzi, wearing a gray suit and tie with white hair. He is in his 50s, and took charge of leading the company as early as in his 30s.

He smiles and shakes hands with Mila, and breathes a sigh of relief.


"Please, have a seat. And, water will be coming shortly." Francisco said. He sits on a leather brown chair, with Mila sitting across him.


"Thank you for granting this opportunity." Mila said.


"No, I should be the one thanking you. I have tried other media outlets but they aren't always available. I specifically picked you, because I admire your boldness. You toppled down an organization." Francisco said.


Mila giggles.


"Tee hee.. I only brought the truth out. It all came crumbling down with the executives resigning or just disappeared. That's just the end result." Mila replied.


"Now, where to begin? Well, you do have a thick notebook with you, and I think it will be filled up until the very last page." Francisco said.


"Interesting. Well, I do have other pieces of paper in my bag." Mila said.


"Oh, those will be filled too. Hahahaha!" Francisco laughed.


"What's this for? Why request an interview? And you picked me... specifically." Mila asked.


"I am going to, air out, perhaps the dirtiest laundry even more rotten than stinky cheese." Francisco said.


"Dirty laundry?" Mila asked.


"You are inclined in the racing world, am I right? Let me tell the tale about my lovely little brother... Guillermo." Francisco said, as he raises his left leg and rests on his right.




********************************************************************************************************


Location: Tokyo, Japan
Time: 10 am, three days later.





Recuperating in a fancy hotel in Shinjuku is none other than the whole Ferrari F8 Challenge crew. Pietro and Giacomo share a suite. Pietro watches a video from his laptop. The second round will take place in a closed off section of the Tokyo Expressway.


"Woah... check this out, Giac!" Pietro called.


It turns out to be a Red Bull Racing livestream taking place somewhere in Japan as well. They are watching the unveiling of a prototype, with Cesar Vasquez in full racing overalls.


Iwate Museum of Art_.jpeg



It's a low-slung, futuristic looking prototype, bore from the fruits of the Red Bull X Program led by Adrian Newey. It does look slightly different from the rest, as it has traditional aerodynamic parts along with modifications to make it compliant.


Giacomo sees the "HYPERCAR" logo on the car's rear right quarter.


"Hypercar? You mean Le Mans Hypercar?" Giacomo asked.


"Good catch. Red Bull is on a roll lately. Now they're entering the FIA WEC too?" Pietro asked.


"Do we even have a car for that?" Giacomo asked.


"I've heard from Mr. De Rossi that they are currently working on a prototype. But they are hush-hush about it." Pietro replied.


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"And now with Vasquez driving it..." Pietro said.


"It's going to be intense." Giacomo added.


Giacomo focuses on Cesar.


"This Cesar guy, there's more to him than just a friendly face." Giacomo remarked.



********************************************************************************************************


Location: Tokyo Expressway East
Time: 11 pm, three days later




Second round is in full swing. Yesterday's qualifying went without incident, and the grid is lined up.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise_.jpeg



Giacomo takes the pole position, with Alphonse taking second.


In the pit wall, De Luca puts his headphones on, resuming his duty as Giacomo's race engineer and strategist.


"Okay, Mr. Marelli. De Luca reporting for duty." De Luca said.

"How's it going, sir?" Giacomo asked.

"Japan is lovely, as always. I went to a certain mochi shop. Forgot the name, but it is apparently owned by a family who also races." De Luca replied.

"I'll give that a try. Hehe. I'll be staying here until tomorrow." Giacomo said.


"Okay, getting to business. There is a high chance of rain today. Clouds are already starting to form as we speak." De Luca said.


"Oh great. Rain. Hope I don't fall off the highway." Giacomo said.


"Forza, Marelli." De Luca said.



The countdown rings. And with lights showing green, the cars take off.



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The long main straight provides the perfect opportunity for overtaking. And in a snap, Cesar has already begun his attack.


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"Gotta admit, you two are no longer newbies." Cesar remarked.



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Giacomo initiates his defense, blocking Cesar in the first corner.


But upon exiting turn 2, Giacomo had a little wheelspin while Cesar exited without problem. This provided him enough momentum for an overtake.


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"These Red Bull guys... aren't they already having enough?" Giacomo asked himself, being aware of the brand's domination in motorsports in recent times.



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"Giacomo Marelli... Alphonse Blanchard... since both of you have shown promise, I will show my respect by giving everything I got. I will not hold back for you." Cesar thought, as he applies full throttle upon exiting the S curves.


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"You are on a higher level. Don't expect people like me to baby you." Cesar added.


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"The racing world isn't gentle and will never be. It's like the animal kingdom. You just fight until you become the apex predator. And there are others vying for that as well." Cesar thought.



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The Ferraris blaze by the main straight at speeds over 330 kilometers per hour, faster than what a GT3 race car would muster.



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Giacomo notices the Red Bull Ferrari fleeting away.


"Red Bull outrunning me." Giacomo said.


"1 second gap... and growing." De Luca said.



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But it isn't just his problem...



...Hamilton also makes his move.


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"No Hammer Time for you!" Giacomo exclaimed, as he buries the throttle on the hairpin exit, giving his car the shove it needs to defend its position.


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And true to De Luca's words, the overcast skies have finally formed.


Giacomo keeps his right foot pinned to the accelerator on the main straight, not minding the others on his draft.


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Then Hamilton makes another move, now a successful overtake.


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Cesar keeps on widening the gap.



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While Giacomo struggles to defend himself.


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He is placed down to 4th now, after Magnussen charged through the final hairpin.


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"I think they went god mode on me. You know those video game bosses when after beating them they become much stronger and defeat you in an instant? That's the feeling." Giacomo said.


"I don't get what you're saying. But you should know by now, those top three are clearly way ahead of you by experience." De Luca replied.



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"I think I've pissed them off." Giacomo said.



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Giacomo now starts to realize the metaphorical gap between him and the three drivers ahead of him.




End of Act 5
 
Act 6 - Il Toro Rosso (Part 2)





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Giacomo once again returns to his predicament: stacking up against some of the fastest drivers in the world with thicker and more worthwhile portfolios.






Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__1.jpeg



"I think I've signed up more than I bargained for." Giacomo remarked, as he sees the top three racers becoming mere specks to him.


However, he sees an opening from Magnussen on the hairpin, with Giacomo charging on the inside.

Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__2.jpeg




However, the precipitation begins. The wipers automatically activate.


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"Rain!" Giacomo said.

"All right, surface still remains dry. No use boxing in for Wets now." De Luca replied.


To Giacomo's surprise, however, Cesar enters the pit lane.


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"Vasquez boxed in?" Giacomo asked.

"Focus on defending the lead. Magnussen is right up your arse." De Luca replied.


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With the main straight far longer than most circuits, defense is crucial.


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"Maybe I'll do the same thing you did to me on Round 1." Giacomo thought.




After a swap to Intermediates and a top up of fuel, Cesar returns to the fray, fallen down to the last place.


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Friction is starting to decrease as more water covers the surface.


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"Torrential rain is expected. Switch to Wets now." De Luca said.


However, Giacomo has a contrasting opinion.


"I'll hold on for another lap. The others won't let go, either." Giacomo replied.


"Copy, understood." De Luca said.


Giacomo is proven right, as the others remained in the run amidst the torrential showers.


Music: Initial D 5th Stage Sound File - Project D III


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In the pit box, De Luca shakes his head upon learning Giacomo's decision.


"A fast driver acts more on logic than heart. Why do you think someone as consistent as Verstappen shines in Formula 1? Or Michael Schumacher getting 7 world championship titles?" De Luca thought.


And now the tides have turned...




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"Keep it steady!" Giacomo said to himself, sawing the wheel repeatedly.


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Now the rest of the grid has turned into a congestion, as they are crawling at low speed to avoid sliding on slick tires.


Giacomo applies a bit of throttle to make the rotate on a friction-less surface.

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However, Alphonse wasn't so lucky this time around...


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His car lost control after accelerating too hard. Giacomo easily spotted it.



"Alphonse!" Giacomo exclaimed.


"Don't worry too much about him. His car has no damage and will still run." De Luca replied.


Charging past the crawling opponents is Cesar, who finally manages to take back the lead.


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"I can't believe Hamilton fell for it. And he signed for Ferrari just for THAT?!" Cesar thought as he chuckled at the chaos he witnessed.


As the Red Bull Ferrari left them, Giacomo and Pietro made it out safely, securing 2nd and 3rd respectively.


"Okay, now both you and Guidicelli shall box. No more excuses." De Luca said.


"Copy." Giacomo replied.


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They now enter the pits, opting to change to Wet tires.


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The pair exited the pit lane, with Giacomo now ready to charge.



"Sorry for not listening to you earlier, Mr. De Luca." Giacomo said.


"This should be a learning experience for you. A cool head always prevails." De Luca replied.



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As Giacomo drives through the lap, he poses another question.


"What's the gap between me and Red Bull?" Giacomo asked.


"Copy, we are checking." De Luca replied.



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"Okay. Gap between Red Bull is at 20 seconds." De Luca replied once more.


"I gotta shorten it." Giacomo said.


"I'd keep my pace and position, if I were you. This is a points game. Strategy is key in winning a championship." De Luca replied.


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"But..." Giacomo said.


"Remember, Cesar finished 9th in the previous round. The gap between him and you won't be that large if you place 2nd today. Then you can pour your energy in the 3rd round." De Luca replied.


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"If this is a single race, then by all means, go ahead. But it's better to score points than to risk everything and retire in one race in a championship." De Luca explained.


The surface has started to dry up after a few more laps.


"Okay Marelli, box box. Box box." De Luca said.


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"Now?" Giacomo asked.


"Yes, we'll switch to Inters this time." De Luca replied.


"Copy." Giacomo replied.


He and Pietro enter the pit lane.


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And so do the rest...


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However, Cesar still soldiers on, further increasing the gap.




After the stop, the two red Ferraris leave the pit lane. De Luca crosses his arms and looks at the Red Bull Racing team.


"Red Bull Racing's excellence in Formula 1 trickles down in other forms of motorsport. Their impeccable strategy and talented drivers make for a magnanimous combination that results in sheer dominance left and right. I am a bit jealous, truth be told." De Luca thought.



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Five more laps have dialed in, and Giacomo still notices no change in gap.


"Are we still 20 seconds behind?" Giacomo asked.


"Actually, you did shorten the gap to at least 17 seconds. The surface is dry enough to warrant Softs. Box in." De Luca said.


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"And would Cesar box as well?" Giacomo asked.


"That, I can't answer. Just box in." De Luca replied.


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Both Giacomo and Pietro comply. Other teams pit in as well.


Cesar would keep on racing.



As he exits the pit lane, Giacomo asks.


"Vasquez still hasn't boxed in, huh?" Giacomo asked.



"Correct. But this will now turn into our favor." De Luca replied.


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"Why?" Giacomo asked.


"The moment the road dried up a while ago, his Inters are starting to wear. Our Soft tires will definitely have the fighting chance." De Luca replied.


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"Vasquez has excellent tire management skills, I give him that. But Inters won't last long, either." De Luca added.


"Got it." Giacomo replied.


"Just avoid the puddles for now. So lighten up the pace a bit." De Luca said.




********************************************************************************************************



Meanwhile, as the chaos continue to loom in Tokyo...




....a quiet town in Yokohama offers a nice change of pace.


A taxi stops by at a narrow street filled with small shops and restaurants. Getting out are none other than Mila Janson, and Takuma Kanonji who will act as a guide and translator of sorts.


What are they doing in such place? Turns out, Mila is scheduled to meet up with Nobuhiko Hiramoto, and Takuma also uses the opportunity to make peace. They have been tracking him down ever since the FIA scandal blew over.




"A quiet place, huh?" Mila says as she looks around.


"Never thought he'd end up here." Takuma said.


Mila now puts her jacket hood back down, as the rain has finally stopped.


As they head closer to the meeting place, they see a huge crowd, and even the police are in it.



"Police?" Takuma asked.


"What's going on?" Mila asked.


Both rush over to the scene, and since it's now barricaded and labeled as a crime scene, they cannot get through.


However, an old lady slowly approaches them, holding a thick, large brown attache case.



"Sumimasen.... gaikoku kara onna no hito desu ka?" (Excuse me, are you that foreign lady?) the old woman asked.


Takuma steps in to answer.


"Hai. Watashi tachi wa, Hiramoto Nobuhiko ni au tsumori desu." (Yes, we intend to meet Nobuhiko Hiramoto here.)


The woman hands over the said attache case.


"Hai. Kore.." the woman said, with Takuma taking it.



"Hiramoto-san wa... nakunarimashta..." (Hiramoto-san... has passed on.) the old lady said, with a clear somber look on her face.


Takuma's eyes widened, and even dropped the item. Mila picks it up. She is obviously dumbfounded as she doesn't speak Japanese.



"What's going on?" Mila asked.


"Sonna... shinjirarenai...." (This can't be...) Takuma replied.


Then they see the paramedics carry a covered body on a stretcher. The old lady looks down.



"Kare wa.... jisatsu shimashta." (He took his own life.) the old lady said, about to cry.



Takuma is shaking, now knowing that he can no longer make amends to his old friend.


He can only reply with...



"Arigatou gozaimashta." (Thank you very much) Takuma replied with a bow, then proceeds to walk away, with Mila following suit.


As the pair walk away from the scene, Mila is still confused.


"What just happened?" Mila asked.


Takuma can even barely muster enough will to reply, still shaken.


"Nobuhiko.... chose to take himself out." Takuma replied.


Mila's eyes widened, and she can only clutch on to the attache case given to her.




End of Act 6



 
Act 7 - The Gap




Both Takuma and Mila hailed a taxi and set course back to Tokyo. In the cab, Takuma leans back, looking at the water drenched window as the car moves.


He still reels in what had happened to his old friend and rival. He wanted to extend an olive branch for so long, but it had been clearly known that it's no longer possible.


"Are you okay?" Mila asked.


"No. I am... taking this all in. I can't believe this... Wish I could've reached him earlier." Takuma replied.


"I'm sorry... I'm truly sorry." Mila said.


"He must have his reasons. I just hope whatever is in that case is worth the visit." Takuma said.


"Is there any way we can do to reach out his brother? His parents? Wait... Hiroyuki-san died." Mila asked.


"We shouldn't be delivering the news to them. I do not know if Nobuyuki still has contact. But if there's no choice, I'll bear with that." Takuma replied.


"Once we get to the hotel, I'll unload and read everything. After all, I'm still investigating about the FIA scandal even after Maximilian Marsh is put behind bars. There are still things left hidden. Unfortunately, even though this is the worst time to say it,
Nobuhiko Hiramoto has some accountability. Mr. Chevalier himself said that." Mila said.


"Just... do what you have to do. You don't have to hold back. Truth is truth. I'll deal with the Hiramoto family." Takuma said.


The taxi stops when a traffic light displays red at the intersection. Takuma just looks at a glimmer of sunshine outside.



********************************************************************************************************



Now back to the action in Tokyo....


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Despite all the talent that Cesar can muster, the Intermediates are on their way out.


And so he finally decides to box.


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Seeing this, De Luca immediately reports on the situation.


"Vasquez has boxed in. Now you can charge." De Luca said.



"Copy." Giacomo said. And he then pushed his foot all the way down on the throttle.




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Red Bull's pit stop was brief, as Vasquez's F8 still has more than enough fuel and only had to change to Soft tires.


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But still, the gap has massively reduced.



"Come on, only 6 laps left!" Giacomo said.


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The reality sets in for Giacomo: he still has ways to go before he can get on Vasquez's level.






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"I can consider Cesar Vasquez in league with the gods of racing. He may have declined a seat in F1, but that speaks volumes!" he thought.


The gap has no signs of shortening, despite all the aggressive braking and cornering Giacomo had done.


Music: Rockstar - N.E.R.D. (Jason Nevins Remix)



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Giacomo watched in awe on Cesar's precision.


"I'm seeing masterclass in action. I can only imagine him being on a seat of a Formula 1 car!" he thought.


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However, Cesar has an entirely different opinion...




"My way of showing respect for promising new talents like you... is to show no quarter. No holds barred." Cesar thought.



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"The fact that you are only a second away from me, speaks volumes of your skill. Don't be discouraged!" Cesar added.



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"I still have grip. Yet am I still able to catch him?" Giacomo asked himself, seeing that a win is fleeting away.






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And now the race ends, with Vasquez attaining victory after that disappointing result from the previous round.


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Giacomo scores huge points as well. Pietro is now leading the championship, on the other hand.



Current Standings:

Guidicelli (Ferrari) - 30
Magnussen (HAAS Ferrari) - 26
Vasquez (Red Bull Racing) - 24
Blanchard (BWT) - 21
Marelli (Ferrari) - 21
Garett (Privateer) - 18
Tsukamoto (Privateer - Racing Service Dino) - 18
Hamilton (Scuderia Ferrari) - 15
Tan (Privateer - GRAB) - 15
Minagawa (Privateer - CORNES) - 11
Pianizzi (MAHLE Racing) - 6

Carillo (Sbinalla Tire) - 3


After the podium celebration, Giacomo heads straight to the BWT's pit garage. There, he sees Alphonse just sitting down, having a breather. He then approaches his rival.


"Hey, you all right?" Giacomo asked.

"Oh... yeah. That spin? That was nothing. Just an incident." Alphonse replied.

Giacomo chuckles.


"Oh, do you know we're tied in points now? We're both 4th." Giacomo said, then extending his fist.

Alphonse smiles and reciprocates the gesture. After the fist bump, Giacomo hands over a bottle of warm tea he got from the vending machine.

"Take it. You do deserve a drink, mon ami." Giacomo said.

"Grazie, amico mio." Alphonse said.


"Hey, make sure we see each other in the FIA WEC, okay? And Super Formula too." Giacomo said.

"Promise. And I'll make sure of it." Alphonse said with a smirk, finally having been comforted and encouraged by his Italian rival.


Giacomo then walks away, but then Alphonse yells.


"Ti Voglio Bene!" Alphonse yelled. It's a platonic way of saying "I love you" in Italian, appropriately used for friends and family.


Giacomo chuckles, but of course he has to respond in kind.


"Je t'aime!" Giacomo replied with his right arm raised and hand waving as he walks back to his pit box.





End of Act 7












 
Act 8 - Breakthrough


Location: Keio Plaza Hotel, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Time: 10 am, the next day




With the 2nd round now behind them and scoring huge points for both drivers, the team can truly rest easy, as the 3rd round will be two weeks later.


While everyone in the Ferrari team have finished packing up and now on their back to Italy for some quick repairs before heading to California, Giacomo opted to stay for another day, as he is to meet up with Mila.


After taking a shower, he sees his phone vibrating on the bed, and it's a phone call from her. He picks it up.


"Hello?" Giacomo said.


"Oh hey, I'm in the lobby now. Where are you?" Mila asked.

"Still in my room. Getting dressed. Give me 30 minutes. No.. 20... No... 10!" Giacomo replied.


"Sure.
Take your time." Mila said.


He sprays deodorant all over his body, then puts on his turtleneck and jeans.


After getting dressed and made up the room, he heads down to the lobby, approaching Mila who is sitting on a sofa nearby the entrance.


"There you are. Let's go." Mila said.

"Sure. Let's go to my room." Giacomo said.

Mila nods, and the pair then head up to Giacomo's room.


"Sorry for the little mess, but I'll be leaving again shortly for a little stroll around the city and the housekeeping will clean it." Giacomo said.


"It's okay. This meeting will be brief, anyway." Mila said. She then sits down on the bed, putting down the attache case and opening it. She then takes out all the contents, all pieces of papers.



"What are those?" Giacomo asked.


"Evidence. Well, the one who gave this to me decided to take himself out, but collated them all before he did so." Mila replied.


"Who?" Giacomo asked.


"Nobuhiko Hiramoto. Once a racer belonging to Dream Alliance, but parted ways after his father's death and apparently took up on Maximilian's offer. The FIA basically took control of Dream Alliance Japan junior team and fixed races for their benefit. It was too late for him to realize that, and as an act of reconciliation, he took screenshots of his group chat with the FIA execs. But that doesn't absolve him from accountability." Mila replied.


"That's a looong group chat." Giacomo said, as he looks at the papers one by one.


"Guillermo Pianizzi... he did more than just set your father up." Mila said.


Giacomo's eyes widened.


"What? What did you just say?" Giacomo asked.


"He... set up your father. Well, look at this page." Mila said.



She hands over a specific chat screenshot bringing up Benito Marelli as a subject.



Guillermo: "Well, you can always do it like what I did. I paid some cheap woman to impersonate my wife, drugged Benito, and record the scandal. Lo and behold, he's out of the business."


Nobuhiko: "I don't think I need to go that far."


Guillermo: "Fair play don't get you anywhere. Maximilian did it with such finesse. When you have the power, you can merely play them like a fiddle."




Giacomo tightens his grip on the paper, it had crumpled a bit on one side.



"Now I know how Kevin Kern must have felt." Giacomo said.


"There are a lot of dirty people wearing suits and ties. Guillermo is no different. If you also want to know, he embezzled from his own family conglomerate. His brother, the CEO of Formaggio di Pianizzi, is still pursuing him as we speak. Lengthy court drama ensues. And to think, he used that money to fund his children's racing aspirations. The reason I'm here is because the CEO himself told me that he knew that your father's scandal was nothing more than a sham. And that I have to gather proof." Mila said.



"Now I know where to pour my energy next." Giacomo said.


Mila stands up, and shakes hands with Giacomo.


"It's a pleasure working with you. Take all of these. They are all photocopies, as I have the originals. Show them to your father as well. It's about time to exonerate him." Mila said.


"I will. Thank you so much." Giacomo said.


"We will clean the FIA up, one step at a time. Noel Chevalier can't do that all by himself." Mila said.


Giacomo nods.



********************************************************************************************************

Location: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
Time: 11 am, two days later





Giacomo returns to Italy, for a brief respite... and as well as testing the new Ferrari La Super Formula in one of Ferrari's official testing sessions.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza_.jpeg



De Luca supervises the run, and Benito is in the pit box as well.


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With the new developments on the case, Giacomo now has a newfound determination. And to show that, he goes full throttle on shakedown.


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Passing by the main straight like a blur, Benito and De Luca make remarks.



"Seems like Giac has gotten more focused. He's gotten a little more silent lately." Benito said.


"Well, he took pointers from me after all." De Luca replied.



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"He is, no doubt, capable of driving a Formula 1 car. Looking at the telemetry, it seems that he handles the car well. And that car is a tiny bit slower than current F1 cars. Except here in Monza, of course." De Luca said.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__4.jpeg



Meanwhile, Giacomo is having thoughts...




"Now I know where to focus. I got proof. Papa deserves to be exonerated."


At the second chicane, the Super Formula car leaps due to the sausage kerbs.



Autodromo Nazionale Monza__5.jpeg



But he manages to keep it in check.



"Careful on the sausage kerbs. I'm reading sudden rates of frequency." De Luca said.


"Copy. I'm... stress testing the car." Giacomo replied.


Autodromo Nazionale Monza__6.jpeg


At the first Curva di Lesmo, Giacomo lifts off throttle at 5th gear to give enough rotation to clear the said corner.




"If there's anyone who deserves to be cancelled, it's Guillermo Pianizzi."


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"I haven't showed Papa the evidence yet, but I'll make it known to him."


Music: Initial D 4th Stage Sound Files - Todo Juku



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"I can forgive a lot of sins, but cheating.... is not one of them!"



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"Don't worry, Mr. Pianizzi. The best revenge for a cheater like you is playing fair. Your son will be treated fairly. I can assure you of that."


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The car once again hops at the Variante Ascari chicane.


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Which unsettles it, almost sending it outside...


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However, with quick reflexes, Giacomo manages to stay within the line.


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And exit the chicane as if nothing happened.



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At the Curva Parabolica, Giacomo uses the entire width of the corner to get the maximum possible exit speed, exceeding 230 km/h.


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Then he opens up the radio.


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"Uh... after this lap, I'll box. I'm getting hungry." Giacomo said.


"You could have eaten breakfast earlier, Giac." De Luca replied.


"Sorry." Giacomo responded.






End of Act 8



 
Act 9 - Jacques and Alfonso (Part 1)



Location: Grand Valley Highway, California, USA
Time: 1 pm, two weeks later




Days have gone by rapidly, yet Giacomo still keeps his discovery a secret from his father.
For now, the tournament is his top priority.


Giacomo looks at the sky. It's all gray. Some droplets of water make their way onto his face.


"Will it rain this weekend? Hope not." Giacomo said.

"According to weather reports, it should only be a light drizzle. Still, the track we're racing on is dangerous. Little to no runoff, and you can fall over to the cliff or the sea if you went too crazy. Take care on today's qualifying." De Luca replied.


"I see." Giacomo said.


Giacomo heads to the pit box, walking around, can't sit still. De Luca notices what seems to be an anxiety.


"Are you okay, Giac?" De Luca asked.

"Uh... yeah. Don't worry. Just... thinking about something." Giacomo replied.

"You know, that kind of mannerism won't help you in the race. Overthinking can cost your race." De Luca said.

"Really?" Giacomo asked.

"Come on, you can share your thoughts. I can form friendly relationships too." De Luca said.


He can clearly see Giacomo's hesitation.

"Well... I'm pretty sure you know what happened to my father." Giacomo replied.

De Luca smirks.

"Of course! Don't you know? I'm your father's teammate in Formula 1 back in the day! You may have not heard of me because of my mediocre results, hence settling in BTCC." De Luca replied.


"Really? No way! He didn't tell me about you." Giacomo said.


"Oh you just don't remember. I even used to attend to your birthday parties when you were small." De Luca said.


"Small world, huh? Well... at least I'm more comfortable sharing my troubles now." Giacomo said.


"You want to help him, yes? I know. That is why I was recommended by your father to be your race engineer. Ferrari took his word and so far we click off very well." De Luca said.


"Great to know. Well, you see... I just found evidence that can exonerate him. He was set up. He got drugged by a paid actress, impersonating Guillermo Pianizzi's wife and... you know." Giacomo said.


"I have always had my suspicions. I mean, it's obvious that you, your mother, and your father are living happy lives. If that were true, then why did your mother choose to stick around?" De Luca said.


"I'm not going to act on this for now. I can't risk the championship due to some past scandal. And Enzo is here as well." Giacomo said.


"True. Better keep this between us first. You can trust me." De Luca said.


"Thanks." Giacomo said.


He then heads out to the pit lane, doing some stretching. He then looks at his left, and sees Alphonse. He runs towards his French rival.


"Ciao, Alfonso!" Giacomo yelled.


"Alfonso? Haha." Alphonse replied.


"Well, what could be my French name, then?" Giacomo asked.


"Then I shall call you "Jacques". Capisce?" Alphonse replied, then the two would laugh.


"Hey, let's do our best this qualifying and tomorrow, okay?" Giacomo said.


"Sure. We have to be on top. I will never forget our promise." Alphonse replied.


The two would then perform a brother handshake, then a hug comes next. They would then return to their respective pit garages.



Giacomo suddenly has a "aha!" moment. What would be that idea that suddenly entered his head?


"Hey, Mr. De Luca, I have something in mind for tomorrow's race. Please hear me out." Giacomo said.




After that brief exchange, the racers begin the qualifying session.



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Giacomo takes note of the course's unique features.


"One wrong move, and you'll be falling straight to the morgue."



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Alphonse has to rack up points as well. He currently stands in 4th position, tied with Giacomo.


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Others step up their game, such as Kevin Magnussen.


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And he had set the fastest qualifying time of 1 minute and 47.5 seconds.




********************************************************************************************************

The next day being the race day, Giacomo and Alphonse are fast enough to start at the front row, just behind Magnussen.


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Giacomo firms his grip on the steering wheel.


"I'll work on my magic on this one. Mr. De Luca is in it as well."



3...


2...


1...



And it's lights out and away they go.



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K-Mag leads the charge.



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"Even KMag will be taken by surprise by this. Just you wait."



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Music: Raising Hell - Fastway


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Giacomo lies in wait... maintaining his pace. De Luca isn't giving any remarks even.



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Then suddenly....



...after the high speed final turn in the tunnel, Giacomo floors the throttle.


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He gained a faster exit speed than Alphonse, allowing him to pass.



And now enter the next lap. Giacomo's "plan" commences.


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"It begins."



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He now begins his attack on Magnussen.



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Using slipstream and then with extra speed, Giacomo lines up alongside Magnussen.


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And when he finally gets in front...


...he applies the brakes.



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K-Mag reflexively slows down to prevent an incident, something that he won't let happen considering his notoriety in Formula 1.


De Luca sees the act as well, and he smirks.



"It begins. Giacomo has potential to be an effective strategist." De Luca remarked.


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"It's payback time, K-Mag. Remember the 1st round?" Giacomo asked.


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However, Alphonse is clearly confused at the situation.


"Huh? Why is Giac slowing down?" he wondered.


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He moves the car left and right to block Magnussen, until Alphonse makes a pass.


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Seeing that as a sign, Giacomo smirks.


Now he applies full throttle, with Alphonse at the lead.


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"This race is just between me and Alfonso! We have a promise."


Enzo, who managed to overtake Magnussen as well, observes the top two fleeting away from him.



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"Is this what a rivalry should be? I sense no hostility from them." Enzo deduced.



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"Both are pushing each other to their limits, without antagonizing themselves. I'm seeing magic here." he added.


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Alphonse's speed benefits Giacomo, and the tow now separates them from the rest of the competition.




"This is friendship and rivalry in perfect harmony." De Luca remarked, as he sees the tow blazing past the main straight, with a considerable gap away from the 3rd placer.





End of Act 9
 

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