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

Act 10 - Jacques and Alfonso (Part II)




Music: Initial D 4th Stage Sound Files - Unrest


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Giacomo's plan is executed as planned. Even De Luca got surprised the plan went well.



He then reminisces the exchange they had yesterday.



Giacomo: "Mr. De Luca, I plan to help Alphonse get points. Both of us are in 4th, and I know how we can rank up."


De Luca: "Okay... I will hear you out. But why do you intend to help him?"


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Giacomo: "I want to make sure that Alphonse fulfills his promise. He and I must clash in the highest levels of motorsport. But don't worry, I also came up with a plan to WIN this round."


De Luca: "Hmmmm... okay. So how are you going to do it?"



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Giacomo: "I will let Alphonse take the lead. I can use his speed. He is very good at getting away. I'll catch him. I have to distract Magnussen so that he can slow down enough for both of us to get away."


De Luca: "So both of you will be on a tow? Huh... reminds me of a certain strategy performed by two drivers in Singapore Grand Prix."


Giacomo: "It does look like that. But at the same time, I'm conserving tires and fuel."

De Luca: "The fuel is nothing to worry about, thanks to California's strict clean air act policies. The races here are shorter than the rest of the country."


Giacomo: "I'll pit in on the second half of the race, change to Softs. Make the charge, then... challenge Alphonse. He will then be behind me, and will try to do the same - to catch me as well."


De Luca: "So that both of you are far enough... but with Alphonse's tires wearing out. Clever."


Giacomo: "Distracting Magnussen will be the crucial part, for my plan to succeed. Rivals do not need to be hostile. True rivals uplift each other, pushing each other to the limits. And that's how I will help Alphonse."



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De Luca: "I admire your personality. You think about others first before yourself. Racers nowadays only care about climbing up the ladder but they completely left their humility way down there. Okay. I will come up with a strategy."




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Back in the action, Giacomo smirks knowing his plan pulled off. But of course, things can change in an instant. For one, Alphonse's pace has gotten stronger.


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"I do intend to make Alfonso go faster, so that he can wear his tires out. But I also have to make sure he finishes 2nd."



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"Hey, hey... let up, will ya? I'll treat you to a Provençal cuisine once the championship is over."



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Music: Plasticines - Comment Faire


Alphonse is not aware of Giacomo's plan, so he just races as he should.


"I do not know what you did, Jacques, but thank you for me bringing me to the lead. I'll make sure you won't regret it." Alphonse thought.



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"And by that, I mean I will go all out... that's how I appreciate rivals."
Alphonse added.


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Giacomo doesn't seem to mind at all.


"Heh... as long as both of us are pushing each other to our limits, that's what matters the most. You inspired me during the World Touring Car Championship. And I am grateful for such privilege."


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"So yes, keep on pushing! And so do I."



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"Mr. De Luca, what's the gap between me and 3rd?" Giacomo asked.


"I'm checking... so... you are now 7 seconds away from Magnussen." De Luca replied.


"Perfect. Thank you." Giacomo responded.



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The tow makes for a happy crowd. They cheer on for both.



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"Thanks to you, Alfonso... I found my new motivation. You woke me up."



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Now that it's halfway of the race, Giacomo now moves on to the next phase.


"Okay Giac, time to box." De Luca said.


"Copy." Giacomo replied.


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Giacomo enters the pits as planned, which bewilders Alphonse.


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"He boxed in?" Alphonse asked himself.



Since refueling is out of the question, the tire crew rapidly switches the tires thanks to center lock wheels.



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He exits the pits on 9th place. With softer tire compounds, he has the grip advantage.



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Giacomo quickly gains ground.


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"The others are struggling for grip now. Good."


He rejoins Alphonse, and it's once again time to play.



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"Ciao, Alfonso!" Giacomo exclaimed on a happy note.


"Okay, enough friendly banter. Let's focus." De Luca said.


Music: Tekken 8 - Celebration on The Seine (Final Round)



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De Luca notices Magnussen's sudden increase in speed.


"Giac, Magnussen is closing in." De Luca said.


"No problem." Giacomo replied.



And to take care of the problem, Giacomo once again slams on the anchors upon seeing Magnussen coming up from behind.



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"Only I am allowed to defeat Alfonso. Permission denied."



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This grants breathing room for Alphonse.



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But with a fresh set of Soft tires, Giacomo resumes his charge.



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"I'll go for a record run on this one." Giacomo said.


"Okay, go ahead." De Luca replied.





End of Act 10
 
Act 11 - Push For Points



It's the tail end of Round 3. Giacomo's plan seems to be perfectly executed.


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"The soft compounds truly helped me here. Though I mustn't go all out... yet."



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"But I have to set the fastest lap too. Argh! I have to balance it out."



De Luca then instructs on the radio.


"I know you're aiming for the fastest lap, but remember, you are on Softs." De Luca said.


"Got it. I'll probably hold on for now, but we only have a few laps left." Giacomo replied.


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Giacomo has to act. Chances of getting the lead are getting slim, as Alphonse is on full attack mode.


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But the trailing opponents are starting to gain ground as well.


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"Alfonso is now at his one hundred percent."


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Music: Mega NRG Man - Legs on Fire






Alphonse now feels tension once more.



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"It's WTCC once again. He's fired up." Alphonse thought.


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Magnussen is lured in as well.


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It's as if the two are in their own world...



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Gaining on each other, paddle shifters being constantly abused... accelerator and brake pedals getting constant beatings.


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"I don't mind if we run like this forever. Ha! You're the only worthy opponent I have!" Giacomo thought, with adrenaline pouring in nonstop.


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"K-Mag is joining you." De Luca said.


Giacomo looks at the rear view mirror, seeing the white HAAS livery F8 inching towards the pair.



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"Oh no he won't. He's not invited to my party." Giacomo replied.


Giacomo teases Magnussen by applying the brakes once more, then accelerate away at the tricky section.


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"Sorry, K-Mag... you can't ruin this moment." Giacomo thought.


And to gain ground, Giacomo now puts the pedal to the medal, intending to use all the grip the Soft compounds have to offer.



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And joins the tow once more... for the final push.


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After exiting the hairpin, Giacomo's F8 lines up beside Alphonse's. The Italian racer would then look to his right, looking at his French rival. Alphonse would look to his left, and reciprocates.

He shows a thumbs up, then floors the throttle after that brief gesture.


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"Final lap. Sorry, our playtime is over. I'm gunning for the record run."


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Alphonse can do nothing but watch Giacomo fleeting away. His tires are about to give in.



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"He's much faster. I bet he's using the full extent of his tires. Is he on Softs?" Alphonse wondered.


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Giacomo takes the same racing line he used in yesterday's qualifying.



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But with Soft tires, he can carry better cornering speeds for sure.



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Giacomo would end the race with the fastest lap - at 1 minute, and 43 seconds.


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"Grande! Excellent performance, Giac! We pulled this off!" De Luca said.

"Yeah. Grazie ragazzi." Giacomo replied.



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Alphonse finishes 2nd, and he's jovial as well, having racked up huge points after that disappointing 2nd round.


"Merci beaucoup, Giacomo Marelli." Alphonse thought, having realized how his rival pushed him to this result.






Current Standings:


Magnussen (HAAS Ferrari) - 41

Marelli (Ferrari) - 41

Blanchard (BWT) - 39

Guidicelli (Ferrari) - 38

Vasquez (Red Bull Racing) - 34

Hamilton (Scuderia Ferrari) - 21

Tan (Privateer - GRAB) - 20

Garett (Privateer) - 20

Pianizzi (MAHLE Racing) - 18

Tsukamoto (Privateer - Racing Service Dino) - 18

Minagawa (Privateer - CORNES) - 15


Carillo (Sbinalla Tire) - 4




End of Act 11
 
Last edited:
Act 12 - Pride Goeth Before Destruction


Location: Emilia Romagna, Italy
Time:
12 pm, two days later




The 4th round shall take place back in Europe, specifically at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Giacomo takes this opportunity now that he's back in the continent.


He arranges a meeting with none other than Enzo Pianizzi in Emilia Romagna, Italy. Will it be a mere lunch meeting?


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Once he arrives, he sees Enzo sitting at one of the tables outside a local favorite restaurant. He can't bear the tourist crowd inside, so he chose to settle in Al Fresco style.


Giacomo joins Enzo, placing down the leather attache case on the table.


"Wow... will this be a long meeting?" Enzo asked.


"I'd prefer talking in the car, but since you still haven't finished your pasta, I'll wait." Giacomo replied.


"I have another order waiting, and it's actually for sharing. Fancy a truffle aglio olio?" Enzo asked.


"I'll get half, if you don't mind. I love a good aglio olio." Giacomo said with a smirk.


"Hey... no joke... don't be too hostile. You can let your guard down. I'm different." Enzo said.


"I just deal with people differently, that's all." Giacomo replied.


"I can even take you to my mother if you want. She'll tell you everything. She even wants to see you. Have a recorder ready." Enzo said.


Giacomo smirks once more.


"Are you sure you want to sell your father out? Let's be real." Giacomo asked.


"After what he did to my mother... and to your father, I feel that I can't just let this sit by. Plus, I don't want to earn something from dirty means. Everything I have right now, came from money that isn't ours. So yes, I will sell him out if it means setting everything right for everyone's peace, including yours. I want to close this dark chapter of our lives. No... LET'S close that." Enzo replied.


"Bold reply. But that doesn't mean we're friends." Giacomo said.


"We don't have to be. We just have to work together, that is all." Enzo said.


"Hmph.. As we speak, Unicorn Media is collating all the evidence gathered against your father. A podcast will be out soon. And I'm pretty sure, that he'll run away." Giacomo said.


"Then I will stop him, no matter what." Enzo replied.



The waiter arrives with a family size truffle aglio olio and places it down on the table. Giacomo gets the utensils, and helps himself with the pasta.


After consuming some, he smirks.


"I'm hungry. And you know what I mean." Giacomo said.




After that brief lunch, the two men head back inside Giacomo's Giulia. Giacomo opens up the attache case, releasing all the papers for Enzo to see.


"There. Screenshot conversations on how he set up my father... and Formaggio di Pianizzi's financial reports showing how much your father siphoned from your own family company. Unicorn Media has copies of these as well. A well-known Japanese racer even took his own life out of guilt for associating himself with him, hence those group chat screenshots." Giacomo explained.


Enzo shakes his head in disbelief.


"This is too much. But... these are all I need. It's hard to take in, but thanks." Enzo replied, then proceeds to return the papers in the case.

Giacomo starts up the car, and departs.


"Okay, let us visit my mother. You deserve to know why my father did those." Enzo said.


He then opens up the Giulia's navigation system on the screen, then inputs the address where his mother lives. Directions are then plotted out.


"I know apologies aren't enough, but let's hope that we finally put this behind us." Enzo added.



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After almost an hour of traveling, they arrived at a home in the outskirts of Emilia Romagna.

He parks at an alleyway wide enough for a car and pedestrians. Then the men head out, and Enzo rings the doorbell at an apartment unit adjacent to the car.


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The door opens, revealing a middle-aged lady with a moderate height, slightly shorter than Enzo. It's his mother, named Glorietta.

She strokes her maple colored hair. And then she hugs her son.


"Enzo!" she greets.

"Mamà. Oh... Uh... Benito's son is here. Here's Giacomo Marelli." Enzo replied.

The woman crosses her arms, takes a look at Giacomo. She smirks.


"So you are Benito's son. Oh you don't look anywhere near my children. Come in." Glorietta remarked.

The three settle in. The interior is simple, but well-kept. There are photos of some Italian celebrities on the wall, and of course some advertisements of Pianizzi's conglomerate.


"I finally got to see Benito's son in the flesh. And finally...


...teach my husband a lesson." Glorietta said.


The three sit down in the living room, with Enzo taking the attache case, presenting its contents to his mother.


"No need to present me with all of those. The man reeks the stench of defeat, desperation, and depression. You can smell it even a million kilometers away. That's how guilty he is." Glorietta said.


"Unicorn Media is doing an exposé about Papà." Enzo said.


"You are living here all by yourself, madam?" Giacomo asked.


"Ever since your father got disgraced a decade ago, yes." Glorietta replied.


"But we all know, you left Papà because you can't stand him." Enzo said.


"I can't stand him thinking nothing but himself. To think he left both of you to the care of some random stranger in a supermarket while I'm getting medicine from a pharmacy when you were kids. For what? Because his eyes were wandering? He can't even bother to zip up his pants." Glorietta said.


"If uncle Francisco makes a move, and won the case... Papà will be in prison." Enzo said.


"Then I don't mind. Our family is broken the moment your father set your eyes into the family company he clearly didn't deserve. He was too focused on fighting for the throne. The paid actress was just the icing on the cake. But I must apologize to Giacomo, for getting involved into this. Send my regards to your father. I'm even jealous your mother chose to stick with him." Glorietta said.


"Because she knows the truth, and it only made her bond with my father stronger. She stands by him until this day. We are fighting to exonerate my father, and I won't stop." Giacomo replied.


"Good. Molto bene. I wish I have the same fighting spirit as yours." Glorietta said.


"I believe you still have a chance to fix your family... even if your husband goes behind bars. It's not too late." Giacomo said.


Glorietta smiles.


"I like you already. You don't wish ill toward others, even to those who wronged you. There should be more people like you." Glorietta said.


Suddenly, Giacomo's phone rings. It's a notification from Spotify. He checks it out, and Mila's Unicorn Podcast has been released, the episode is all about Guillermo Pianizzi's schemes coming to light.


"It's out." Giacomo said.


"What's out?" Glorietta asked.


"The Unicorn Media's podcast about your husband's schemes. Please take a listen..." Giacomo said.



"Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to our listeners. Welcome again to our Unicorn Podcast brought to you by Unicorn Media. I am your host, Mila Janson, and for our first-time listeners, this podcast is all about various issues being brought out to light not covered by mainstream media.


Today's issue is all about cheese.


No, seriously, it's about cheese. To be specific, an Italian cheese conglomerate running for more than 200 years and counting, being run by just one family.


It's the Formaggio di Pianizzi. You can see them anywhere, from your mom-and-pop store to those giant supermarket chains in Europe. They even export these to Middle East and Central Asia with further expansions being eyed.


But we're not talking about cheese tasting and how each one has their own distinct taste. We're talking a figurative cheese. One pulled by a man driven by power.

With me today, is none other than the CEO and owner of the Formaggio di Pianizzi, Mr. Francisco Pianizzi.
"


"Thank you, young lady. And thank you for allowing me this privilege to air out this... dirty laundry my family has. It even involves a scandal. A Formula One scandal. It's time for everyone to know.


Where to begin? Ah yes... well, for one let's not delve into the full, 200-year history of the company, but let's just get into the meat of the topic - my brother." Francisco said.


"Your brother? Guillermo Pianizzi?" Mila asked.


"Correct. He's a driven man. Honestly, I was the brother who would be favored over him. And you know where this is going." Francisco said.


"It all led to this." Mila replied.


"Believe me, when he said he will do everything in his power to usurp my seat, he means EVERYTHING. Embezzlement was just the tip of the iceberg." Francisco said.



However, just as the podcast continues on playing, Enzo's phone rings. It's his brother Antonio on the other end.


"Hello?" Enzo said.


"Papà just vanished. Like, I was doing some shopping and when I returned, he's gone. This is your fault." Antonio said.


"Wait, he just left? And he didn't leave any note? What about the housekeeper? Did she tell everything?" Enzo asked.


"No. She did her usual grocery run and was the first to report. Didn't you even think that this will happen? You are breaking our family apart!" Antonio exclaimed.


"Our family is already broken to begin with. WAKE UP. Remember that time we were left alone in the grocery when Papà was just supposed to watch over us while Mamà was getting medicine? Of course you weren't aware, we were just too young until it hit me." Enzo replied.


"You are getting too close with that Marelli guy!" Antonio exclaimed.

"There are both sides in a story, Antonio! It was too late until I realized what our father was truly up to." Enzo said.


"Whatever. You created this mess. I can't believe this." Antonio replied, and then the call cuts off.


"What happened?" Giacomo asked.


"Papà is missing. I must go." Enzo replied as he stands up.


"Pride comes before the fall, they say." Glorietta said.


"I'll now put up a word on the authorities. I hope he doesn't.... you know." Enzo said.


"Don't think of that." Giacomo said.


"Focus on your race, Marelli. I can't involve you further into this." Enzo replied.




********************************************************************************************************​

Location: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Time: 1 pm, five days later.





The week went by, but Giacomo has a hint of anxiety now that Guillermo Pianizzi is at large.


However, he has a race to win.




The anxiety itself caused Giacomo to fumble a bit in yesterday's qualifying. He shall start in 4th. The rain would add up to his list of problems, though it's not as severe as in the 2nd round.



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De Luca would chime in.


"Giac, just... focus. Let the others do the rest. Guillermo Pianizzi will be found." De Luca said.

"Copy. And thanks." Giacomo replied.

"Let's just work together on this one, and we will win. We got this." De Luca said.


The countdown starts.



3...


2...


1...


And it's lights out and away they go. The cars' launch control systems ensure that they get off safely even under wet conditions.


Music: Michael Da Brain - Brain 21 Something For Your Mind


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Giacomo manages to slip by Vasquez at the first turn, and Pietro is able to do the same.


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The fog also spices up the predicament the racers are in. But it's a well-known trait that Spa has, which racing fans and locals alike happily accept.


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Giacomo then slips past by Hamilton's understeering F8.



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And once again, he has to deal with his rival taking the lead.


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Keeping over 700 horsepower under control is no easy feat especially on slippery surfaces.


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Save for Formula machines, modern racing cars have traction control systems fitted to suit clienteles of all racing skills. The F8 Challenge is no different, but Giacomo has elected to turn it off every after launching from start.


"To get maximum speed out of corner exits, traction control must be deactivated. Papà once told me that no computer can match the throttle control skill of an F1 driver."



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"But it's obvious that even Alfonso is using it. His cornering exit speeds are faster. Technology has gone a long way, I guess."




Music: Anyway, Anymore - Cherry



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Even De Luca notices the predicament that Giacomo is in.


"Giac, Traction Control is permitted for the entire duration of the championship. You might want to use it." De Luca said.



"I'm aware of that. But I want my right foot to do the work. Thanks." Giacomo replied.



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"Benito once told Giac that traction control systems are pretty much useless on high level racing such Formula 1. But let's be real here, Giacomo is not yet on that level." De Luca mused.



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"With today's technology, TCS is even helpful. Formula 1 in the 90s and early 2000s were raw and Benito got used to the environment of eschewing driver aids during his career. Giac is in the digital era, and has grown to the notion of convenience and ease of use. We have to admit that cars are much faster today than the ones decades ago, all thanks to progress." De Luca added.




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"Giac, sometimes pride can just keep you from coming out of your shell." De Luca thought.



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Giacomo has impeccable control over braking even on wet, having learned the basics of braking without ABS when he was starting out, allowing him to inch closer to Alphonse on corner entry.



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But it's obvious that technology has its advantages. Giacomo's F8 has higher risk of oversteer on corner exits thanks to its TCS switched off.


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He feathers the throttle, putting it down by increments.


And it's made clear that it doesn't work.


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"I gotta work on my accelerator control. Am I that lead-footed? Or is it because Alfonso is pushing me? Could be my thinking. Calm down, Giac. Calm down."



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However, there is another saying: Fortune favors the bold. The fortune is made known by the precipitation coming to a halt.






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Giacomo notices no droplets falling over the windshield.



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"All right. Surface starts to dry up! I'll just have to be careful, still."




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"Let's play again, Alfonso. ANDIAMO!" Giacomo exclaimed.




End of Act 12
 
Act 13 - Overcut Training



With the rain out of the way, Giacomo can push a little bit further.


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Portions of the track are still heavily wet, however. Giacomo still has some traction issues.


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With the drying up surfaces, everyone gets more confident in increasing their paces.


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Giacomo notices Alphonse's improvement in speed.



"Of course he can push it harder." Giacomo thought.




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Then De Luca chimes in.


"Giac, drop the pace a bit. Conserve your tires." De Luca instructed.

"Huh? Why?" Giacomo asked.

"We'll do an overcut." De Luca replied.


"But I'm gaining on Alfonso." Giacomo said.


"Just trust me on this. This is also an exercise." De Luca replied.


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Giacomo relents with a sigh.


"Copy." Giacomo replied.


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And De Luca's strategy commences. Giacomo notices Alphonse using the right indicator, a sign that he will enter the pit lane.


Music: Prince Of The Night - Leo River


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As instructed, Giacomo soldiers on.



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As the rest box in.



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"All right... let's see how much you have learned from your father about this accelerator work. Intermediate tires don't last long either." De Luca said.




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"Oh... so a training during a race?" Giacomo asked.

"I've been doing that in my heyday. Thought it would benefit you too." De Luca replied.

"You've been stubborn on keeping the TCS off, now let's see how you manage the tires and see if your father is right." De Luca added.


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"There are still wet portions in the track. I believe sticking to Inters for now is the best strategy." Giacomo said.


"The rest are probably fitting Softs as we speak. They will slow down... you have enough breathing room for this exercise." De Luca replied.


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Giacomo feathers the accelerator in increments once the car touches the wet portions of the corners.


But this also has another benefit...



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....as the water cools down the tires due to the lack of friction, reducing degradation.




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De Luca, however, delivers a different news.


"They are starting to keep up. They obviously have better grip." De Luca said.


"Copy, understood." Giacomo replied.


Giacomo feels a heavy feedback from the steering wheel, a sign that the Intermediates are about to give in.



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"I guess I can only overcut for 2 laps. Still have a long way to go." Giacomo mused.



And just around the corner, Alphonse is closing in.



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"I'll hold on for another lap. You can do this, Giac. ANDIAMO!" Giacomo said to himself.


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Despite his renewed vigor, Alphonse has significantly closed the gap after three laps.




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Giac's F8 now experiences a mix of under and over steer.




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"I'll box!" Giacomo said.

"Copy. You did well. We will have Softs ready." De Luca replied.



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And at the Bus Stop chicane, Alphonse is just right on his tail.


Giacomo finally boxes in.



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The pit crew rapidly changes the tires to Soft compounds as requested by De Luca. The car's fuel is also being replenished.


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"Well done on the exercise. This is one of the many techniques that F1 drivers do. You simply have to brush up on it." De Luca said.


"That was difficult, to be honest." Giacomo replied.


And then he finally rejoins the fray.



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"But thanks. Now I see that I still have a long way to go." Giacomo added.






End of Act 13
 
Last edited:
Act 14 - Purple Sector


With a new set of Soft compounds, Giacomo is back on the fray. Three-fourths of the race is already completed, so he has to act...


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"Giac, you only have five laps left. Make sure those Softs are truly worth it. There are still wet portions, so watch yourself." De Luca said.

"Copy." Giacomo replied.


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"Good news is, you've pulled up enough gap a while ago during the overcut. That means, they aren't that far away after you boxed in." De Luca added.


"Alfonso is my only problem." Giacomo replied.

Music: Mission Impossible - Nick Mansell



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"Ciao, Pietro." Giacomo greeted as he overtakes his teammate.


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Then finally, he is back to playing with Alphonse.


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"Bonjour, mon ami. Hope you weren't lonely." Giacomo said.


The rivalry now sets on full throttle. The two have been among the most talked-about rookies of the year, considering their breakout performances in the WTCC.


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Spectators begin to cheer loudly as they see the two rivals going on each others' throats once more. Now on the closing stages of the race, they are being treated with an intense battle like no other.


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"Jeez, this is even more exciting than the current F1. Those two are crazy!"

"Are you sure they are really rookies?!"





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Giacomo now takes pole.


"All right. Heh, watch me, Alfonso." Giacomo said to himself.



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"The road is getting dry. Let's dance again, Alfonso!"



Taking advantage of fresh rubber, Giacomo hits full throttle on corner exits. No more worries about traction loss, then.



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Alphonso gasps at this newfound speed.



"He wants to dance again, huh? Well then.... ALLONS-Y!" Alphonse thought.


As if responding to a provocation, Alphonse brakes late at the Bus Stop chicane and overtakes at the outside.


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Giacomo smirks.


"Yes... that's it. Hehehehe."


Music: Fly to Me To The Moon & Back - The Spiders From Mars



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The growing fanbases of Giacomo and Alphonse cheer loud... louder than the other... as if they share the same level of rivalry as their idols.



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"I won't let you go, Alfonso. Keep shredding your tires." Giacomo said.


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He now enters into slipstream.



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However, Alphonse looks at the rear view mirror, and anticipating what Giacomo could do next at the end of Kemmel Straight, he moves to the right.


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"Nice move." Giacomo said.



Alphonse manages to guard his lead.


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"But my tires are still fine." Giacomo said with a smirk.



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And he is proven right. Alphonse's F8 is flailing on the turns.


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"Keep up with the pressure. You're entering the final lap." De Luca said.


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Even Pietro is at awe watching how the two go at each other.


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"Look at those two go! It's like... watching Formula 1." Pietro remarked.


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While Alphonse manages to defend himself in Eau Rouge...


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....Giacomo has better exit speed coming out of Raidillon. This opens up his one final opportunity.



"ANDIAMO!!!" Giacomo exclaimed.



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Giacomo makes a clean overtake.


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"Okay. Go all out now, Giac. Get that fastest lap." De Luca said.


"Gladly!" Giacomo replied.



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De Luca is reading the race data. Giacomo gets purple colored sectors. He smiles and applauds.



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Finally, Giac takes the chequered flag, setting the fastest lap time of 2 minutes and 12.8 seconds, half a second faster than Alphonse's.



"You did it, Giac. Bellissimo!" De Luca exclaimed.


"Forza! Everyone did a wonderful job. Grazie ragazzi. Grazie ragazzi!" Giacomo replied.





4th round result and current standings:

Marelli (Ferrari) - 61

Blanchard (BWT) - 57

Guidicelli (Ferrari) - 52

Magnussen (HAAS Ferrari) - 51

Vasquez (Red Bull Racing) - 46

Garett (Privateer) - 28

Hamilton (Scuderia Ferrari) - 24

Pianizzi (MAHLE Racing) - 24

Tan (Privateer - GRAB) - 21

Tsukamoto (Privateer - Racing Service Dino) - 21

Minagawa (Privateer - CORNES) - 20


Carillo (Sbinalla Tire) - 6





End of Act 14
 
Last edited:
Act 15 - Avanti


Location: Marelli residence, Milan, Italy
Time: 1 pm, the next day



Giacomo brings his recently awarded trophy, from his win in Spa yesterday, in the living room. He looks at the display cabinet filled with medals and trophies. His mother, Adrianna, arrives, smiling when she sees another trophy.


"I think we need to move to a bigger house with all of these trophies." Allegra said.


Giacomo chuckles.


"Well, I'm sure there's space for this somewhere... right?" Giacomo said in a jest.

And finally, Benito arrives, coming from the supermarket placing down the groceries on the floor.

"Oh dear, always placing them there?" Allegra asked
.
"Well, they're heavy. Gotta rest my arms." Benito replied.

"Don't tell me you bought a lot of tomatoes again." Giacomo said.

"You always guess right." Benito replied.

And then, Benito takes something out of his small sling bag. It's a white envelope with "FIA" printed on its back. He hands it over to Giacomo.

"What's this?" Giacomo asked.

"Open it. It's for you." Benito replied.

Giacomo opens up the said envelope. In it is a shiny card, and a folded piece of paper. Upon unfolding it, his eyes widened.


"The Super License!" Giacomo said.


"Well, you earned it. Congratulations." Benito said.


The son would hug his father with glee. This is something he is working so hard for. The world of Formula 1 is within his grasp.



"But of course, you're not yet done. You have to prove yourself further. You need a certain amount of points to get into Formula 1." Benito explained.


"I can't believe this. I thought this would only be a dream. But..." Giacomo can no longer finish his sentence to his excitement.


"I believe that your French best friend would have one too. I look forward for your further escapades." Benito said.


Giacomo breathes out a sigh. His moment of happiness is brief, however, as he places them down on the table.


"There's still the pressing matter. Guillermo is still on the run." Giacomo said.


"Let the authorities handle the matter. Besides, what happened back then was nothing compared to what he did to his own family." Benito replied.


"That's not NOTHING, Papà! He ruined your life! You could have been still racing in F1 right now. Your name deserves to be cleansed. The truth must come out." Giacomo said.


"Giacomo... I have already reached that level and sat on it briefly. Now that I have you both, I no longer ask for glory. All I want is peace." Benito replied.


"But we can't let that cloud our lives. It's time for us to have closure. That's what real peace is. We can't move on until we put this behind us." Giacomo said.


"We just want what's best for you. Getting involved will risk you losing that license, or worse... you." Allegra said.



"I'm not running away..." Giacomo said. Then he takes the card and certificate along with him upstairs.




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




Location: Emilia Romagna, Italy
Time: 8 am, the next day



While the sun rose giving light and happiness to the denizens...

...it's chaos for the Pianizzis. Now that Guillermo is on the run, Enzo rushes quickly to his mother's home.


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Enzo would then ask his mother to pack as much as she can.

"I... no longer want to know what your father is capable of doing." Glorietta said.

"He might hunt us down. Especially that we provided the evidence to the authorities. Let's go. We're about to meet someone who can help." Enzo said.

Glorietta secures the entrance, carrying her suitcase and putting it in the trunk of Enzo's Ferrari. They leave in haste.


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"Where are we going?" Glorietta asked.


"We are meeting up with someone from Unicorn Media. She needs more information, and she can provide us a safe haven in exchange." Enzo replied.



Not too far away, they arrive at the rendezvous point. It's Mila who awaits them. Enzo steps out of the car, and approaches Mila.



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"We're here. Let's go." Enzo said.


"Glad you made it. Let's over to Switzerland. One of our satellite branches is there. We can conduct an interview there and then a home is ready for you." Mila said.


"Got it." Enzo said.


Without further distractions, the two cars leave.






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It will be a long trip, but Enzo doesn't mind in the slightest.


By evening, they arrive in Geneva. Mila suggested a hotel they'll settle in for the night.



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The next day, the three would make their way in Unicorn Media's building. A studio is ready for the interview. Mila straightens up her blazer as she readies herself to inquire more. Glorietta is prepared too.


The lights have turned on, the cameras are ready. The director then gives the cue... and start.




"Good morning, Ms. Glorietta Pianizzi. Thank you for joining us today." Mila said.


"Good morning too, Ms. Janson. I am actually excited to drop this... bombshell." Glorietta said.


"A bombshell, you say?" Mila asked.


"It just involves a former Formula 1 driver, whose life was completely ruined by a loser of a husband." Glorietta replied.


"I'll keep this short. I am not that woman in the video. I do not stoop that low. Right now, she is with the authorities cooperating, because, you might guess, she hasn't gotten her full payment. For more than a decade? My husband... oh dear. He simply cannot beat Benito Marelli, and do you think a true winner would arrange for some cheap, washed out actress to do a job to get what he wants? I don't think so. He didn't have the world he wanted, so he decided that no one gets it." Glorietta added.


"Any words you can say to Benito Marelli, if he's listening to us right now?" Mila asked.


"Benito, you can relax. You are clearly innocent. I'm even jealous, your family keeps holding on. I wish my family is that strong. Your son will go places. Let's put this trouble behind us. I am speaking on behalf of my family, except for my husband." Glorietta said.



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



Location: Sardegna, Italy
Time: 9 am, three days later.

The final round takes place on a hybrid street circuit in the island of Sardegna (or Sardinia in the English language). Today is qualifying day.


Benito is in attendance, looking after the entire Ferrari team preparing and setting up the cars for the event.



Enzo Pianizzi now makes a bold move, approaching Benito.



"Mr. Benito Marelli. It's an honor to have finally met you." Enzo said.


"Oh, Enzo Pianizzi. And do not worry, I don't bite." Benito said.


"Your son is doing incredibly well. I wish I was like him too, with enough motivation to be the best." Enzo replied.


"I am far from being the best father in the world, but all I want is for my son to be happy. I'm sure deep down your father wanted that too." Benito said.



All of a sudden, they hear loud, hastily approaching footsteps...



....it's Guillermo Pianizzi, taking out a pistol out of his pocket. Benito's eyes widen, and when Enzo sees that, he turns around.


"BENITO!" Guillermo shouts, and he pulls the trigger.


Enzo pushes Benito away, taking the bullet... piercing through his chest.


In panic, the mechanics scram away, with Giacomo and Pietro hearing the commotion and rush into the scene.


Guillermo realizes what he has done, having seen his first-born son take the bullet, dropping the pistol. Benito delivers a punch on to Guillermo's cheek.


Benito rushes to Enzo's side. Enzo is clutching his chest, flowing with blood.


"Hang in there. Help is on the way." Benito said.



Benito faces his son, who is taken by shock.



"GIAC! CALL THE AMBULANCE! NOW!" Benito exclaimed.


Giacomo, shaking in shock, calls the emergency services. The track's security force take Guillermo away, and call the police as well.




As the result of the confrontation, the qualifying and the entire round are postponed until further notice. An investigation immediately goes underway.



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




The next day, Giacomo and Benito pay a visit in the Sardinia General Hospital. They go inside Enzo's room, and upon getting in, they see Enzo fully conscious watching the television showing news about his father's arrest.



"Hey, Enzo. Glad to see you awake." Giacomo said.


"Oh hello, good morning to you two." Enzo replied.



"How are you feeling?" Benito asked.


"Saddened. Crushed. I'm fine on the outside, but I'm dead inside." Enzo replied.


"You have the right to feel that way." Benito said.


"You saved my father's life. I will forever be grateful for that. I'll find a way to repay you." Giacomo said.


"I just have to do the right thing. I have to stop my father, and in the process, almost lose my life. But it's all worth it. As long as we have closure, I don't mind how many bullets I take." Enzo said.


"You think you would be able to recover fast enough to be in the race?" Benito asked.


"No, but that's fine. Mahle Racing contacted me earlier, and they found a substitute driver for me. The race will push through next week." Enzo replied.


"I see. Well, we will pray for your speedy recovery. But of course, the issue about your father..." Benito said.


"It'll take a much longer time. But as long as I keep on racing, it'll heal... eventually." Enzo replied.


The three men smile. A truce has finally been made. Benito's name has been cleansed as well, all thanks to the testimonies of the paid actress whom he unknowingly entangled with.




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



One week later, the fifth round finally commences. The qualifying went smoothly as well.



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Giacomo qualified in P6.


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With everything now settled, it's time for Giacomo to face forward, both literally and figuratively.


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"All I need to do is look forward. The past is now completely behind us. I can fully focus. I have the Super License. I must fill it with points." Giacomo thought.



And then...



...it's lights out and away they go.


Music: ACM - Elements of Trance (DJ Kim's Reload Mix)



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The excitement already ramps up, as Alphonse makes a bold move in the first corner.


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Jumping immediately to the first place, Alphonse's fans cheer wildly.


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Giacomo sees the top three fleeting away. His right foot is hard on the accelerator.


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Alphonse is making strides as well, intent on challenging Giacomo.


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De Luca chimes in.



"Okay, Alphonse is three seconds ahead of you." De Luca said.


"Copy." Giacomo replied.


And with that, he firms his hold on the steering wheel.


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"ANDIAMO! Andrò avanti!" Giacomo exclaimed.




End of Act 15
 
Last edited:
Act 16 - A Little Bit of A Miracle




A few laps have passed, and no one seems to budge.






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"The gap is increasing. Hamilton and Magnussen are showing their true selves, it seems."




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"I think we made the wrong decision to start on Hards. Can't grip properly." Giacomo said.


"Hold out for now. No use to box." De Luca replied.


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"Okay, then." Giacomo said.


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Giacomo feels a little bit more yaw from the car.



"I can a turn a bit. The tires are warmed up." Giacomo said.


"Copy, understood." De Luca replied.



Sixth lap commences.


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"Giac, I'm happy to report that you set the fastest lap. 1 minute and 38.5. I repeat, 38.5." De Luca said.


This is clearly motivating for Giacomo.


"Okay, thanks!" Giacomo replied.



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Giacomo closes in.



However, in one left-hand kink...



....the F8's brakes lock up. This is something not expected from a car with an anti-lock braking system. Glitches can happen after all.


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"Brake lock! Brake lock!" Giacomo exclaimed.



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Which sends the F8 plowing through the outside.


And on to the guardrail.


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He fights off the wheel shaking, wrestling back the car in control and in the course.



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"Giac, are you okay?" De Luca asked.


"Yeah. It's a bit of a miracle. I can feel vibration from the steering wheel. But I can manage." Giacomo replied.


The predicament results in Giacomo falling back, but still maintaining his position.


Upon turning left, he feels more vibration from the steering wheel.



Sardegna - Road Track - A__12.jpeg



"There's definitely less yaw when turning left. I can turn, but..." Giacomo said.


"We'll check the front right suspension. Can you still run?" De Luca asked.


With the top three far from his reach, and being in the final round considering the overall points he has...




...Giacomo firms his grip on the steering wheel and bury the throttle.



"Yes. I can." Giacomo replied.



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"Let's patch it up later when I box." Giacomo added.


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Despite the worried look, De Luca would smile. He knows that this is all or nothing for Giacomo for the championship title.


"Okay. I trust you, Giac. We will pull through. But just take care when you turn left." De Luca said.



"Thank you. Can you be my race engineer and strategist forever? Hehe." Giacomo said, just to release some tension.


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"I would be honored, Signore Marellil." De Luca replied.



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End of Act 16
 
Last edited:
Act 17 - Esplosione




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Having moved up to third despite the miraculously light limp, Giacomo's motivation increases tenfold.


But De Luca ensures that they have to be in check, in order to not open up the wound further.


"Just reminding you, the track direction is counter clockwise. This will actually make our situation worse." De Luca said.


"Copy. I'll manage as much as I can." Giacomo replied.



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The only compromise Giacomo can only do is to ease up more on the left hand turns. Seems to work in his favor so far, as it allows him to rocket out of the turns, known as the old-fashioned yet effective "Slow-in, Fast-out" method.



And now Alphonse is within his easy reach.

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"You're mine now. Miss me, mon ami?" Giacomo teased.


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Alphonse notices that Giacomo is on his tail.


"Alphonse, your best friend has come to play." Louis said over the radio.

"Copy. I'm always ready to play. Heh." Alphonse replied.


Music: Take Me To The Top - D-Essex


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Giacomo applies the "slow-in, fast-out" method once more on the left hand turn.


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And to the next...


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"Seems to have worked. Alfonso may have gotten away from the hairpin, but I don't feel the damage has gotten worse..."


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He would then make up ground on the final, high speed turn.



Lap 14 begins with Giacomo now on the attack, pressuring the Frenchman.

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Which works, as evidenced by Alphonse understeering on the next turn.


"Ha, fell for it!" Giacomo exclaimed.


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Taking advantage of his method on left turns, Giacomo moves to the outer side...


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...then buries his foot on the accelerator at the exit.



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And now... Giacomo applies full power on the final section.


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Finally taking the lead on the start of Lap 15.



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"FORZA!" Giacomo exclaimed.


However, as he applies the brakes for the first turn...




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...the car veers to the outside, as if reminding Giacomo that it is limping.



"Argh! Damn!" Giacomo exclaimed.



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This hampers its braking, sending the car plowing outside.



"Turn! Turn! Turn! Turn!" Giacomo repeatedly exclaims.



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The gravel trap did all of the stopping, which renders the car being dropped back into 2nd.



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Giacomo slams his fist on the wheel as he accelerates out of the predicament.

Alphonse breathes out a sigh.


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Giacomo scowls.


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"Giac, are you alright?" De Luca asked.


"I'm pissed. Really pissed." Giacomo replied in a rather calm tone.




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"Don't overdo it. We can patch it up. You can box. Parts are ready." De Luca said.


"No, I'm still running." Giacomo replied.



Nothing can stop Giacomo now....


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...as he is back with a vengeance. He once again overwhelms Alphonse with a faster cornering speed at the final turn.


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Even going slightly off-course to squeeze past.


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"Sorry Alfonso, I won't be nice for now." Giacomo said.


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End of Act 17






 
Act 18 - Forza!




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Giacomo now leads the pack.


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And Alphonse is taken aback at the speed of Giacomo's limping F8.






"Incredible. He makes it seem that there's no problem at all." Alphonse mused.


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At the beginning of the 17th lap, De Luca reports.


"Pietro Guidicelli set the fastest lap. 1 minute 38 flat. 38.0." De Luca said.


But a response is absent from Giacomo...



"Okay... just letting you know." De Luca said.


He takes off his headset, looks at Benito.


"Giac's not amused. He's silent." De Luca said.


"Him being quiet is actually the best thing you can expect from him. It means he means serious business." Benito replied.




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"But of course, his car is limping. Being careful is something you'd actually prefer in this situation." De Luca said.


"I know my son. I trained him to be a racer. He may not be as excellent in karting as Alphonse is, but he's a technical genius when his fighting spirit is set ablaze." Benito replied.


De Luca looks at the telemetry, especially the movement of the front right suspension. His eyes widen.


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"Impressive. He took my advice. The front right suspension is experiencing less load." De Luca said.


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"He won't be setting record times right now, but he is taking care of the car." De Luca added.


"Heh. What have I told you?" Benito said.



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Lap 20. Just five laps left. Giacomo's pace still astounds Alphonse.



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De Luca would then return to the radio communication.


"Okay, Giac. Box box. Box box." De Luca said.


"Copy." Giacomo replied.


De Luca breathes a sigh of relief.



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"We will patch the front right suspension. You know the car has quick exchange part system, right? Ferrari implemented that in their other race cars." De Luca said.


"I think I wasn't paying attention back then." Giacomo replied.


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Upon arriving, the pit crew move as if they're machines when activated at a press of a button. The front right suspension parts are swapped. Of course it takes time.


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Since the other cars were far away when he pit in, the crew is able to attach the replacement parts just in time when the others have finished changing tires, evening the odds for all of the racers.



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And then they all exit at the same time. Giacomo tightens his grip on the steering wheel.



"Let's go." Giacomo said.




Music: F1 Theme - Brian Tyler


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With the new parts and as well as fresh set of Racing Soft tires, Giacomo can perform no holds-barred racing.



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Even Magnussen's defensive maneuver is rendered useless.


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"Not today, K-Mag." Giacomo said.


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Everything is now even at this point. With only four laps left, Giac only has a small window of opportunity to take the lead.


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Make it three...


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And the other opponents are giving everything they got as well.


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Giacomo builds up pressure on Alphonse.


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Which results for the French racer to overshoot.


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"Merde! I went in too fast!" Alphonse exclaimed.


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This also presents an opportunity for Pietro to steal the spot from Alphonse as well.


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"Don't leave me, Giac! Let's have a 1-2 at the final!" Pietro said.



Sardegna - Road Track - A__32.jpeg



Benito hears the crowd cheering wildly as they see Giacomo blazing by the main straight.



"Formula 1 deserves someone like you, my son. You have even surpassed me. I'm proud of you... and also, thank you for what you've done for me." Benito thought as he sheds a single tear.



Sardegna - Road Track - A__33.jpeg



De Luca is also delighted to see purple marks on Giacomo's sector times.



"Come on, Giac! Push it further. You are purple on all sectors!" De Luca said.


"All right. ANDIAMO!" Giacomo exclaimed.






Sardegna - Road Track - A__34.jpeg




As Giacomo starts Lap 24, De Luca reports the lap time.



"Okay, you are the fastest. The lap time is now at 1 minute 36.934. 36.9. 1.1 seconds faster than Guidicelli." De Luca said.


Sardegna - Road Track - A__35.jpeg




However....







...Alphonse notices an alarming spike on engine temperatures, forcing him to retire.



"No... overheat! I will have to retire. I'm sorry, monsieur." Alphonse said.



Sardegna - Road Track - A__36.jpeg



"No worries, you'll still earn a point for finishing more than 90% of the race. You did well today." Louis replied.


Sardegna - Road Track - A__37.jpeg




Sardegna - Road Track - A__38.jpeg




And finally.... Giacomo takes the win at the final round of the Ferrari F8 Challenge championship. Giacomo's fans cheer as wild as they can possibly be.



Sardegna - Road Track - A__39.jpeg




"FORZA FERRARI!" Giacomo exclaimed.


"Forza, Giacomo. Forza! Very well done. You won the championship." De Luca said.


"Grazie ragazzi. And I know my father is watching, please tell him I did it." Giacomo said.


"Of course he knows. He's very proud of you." De Luca replied.



Sardegna - Road Track - A__40.jpeg



And so do Pietro's fans. The pair achieved a 1-2 finish. This will send wonderful news to Maranello.





5th round result and overall standings:


Giacomo Marelli (Ferrari) - 71

Pietro Guidicelli (Ferrari) - 70

Alphonse Blanchard (BWT) - 59

Kevin Magnussen (HAAS Ferrari) - 56

Cesar Vasquez (Red Bull Racing) - 50

Lewis Hamilton (Scuderia Ferrari) - 39

Michael Garrett (Privateer) - 34

Jo Minagawa (Privateer - CORNES) - 32

Hiroki Tsukamoto (Privateer - Racing Service Dino) - 31

SUBSTITUTE DRIVER - Barry Ragdall (MAHLE Racing) - 30

Andrew Tan (Privateer - GRAB) - 24

Sebastian Carillo (Sbinalla Tire) - 7






At the podium ceremony, Giacomo looks at Pietro on his right, and Alphonse on his left. The overall winners are showered with confetti having the colors of the Italian flag. A champagne blasting ensues after, with Giacomo dousing everyone with glee.


Benito and De Luca proudly look at Giacomo above them.



"You raised one hell of a son, Benito. Congratulations. He'll go places." De Luca said.


"Words cannot describe how proud am I of him." Benito replied.


They look on Giacomo now being doused with champagne by both Pietro and Alphonse.








End of Act 18





AUTHOR'S NOTES:




- Yep, that's a double entry for today.


- The F1 Theme by Brian Tyler also gives me this final push vibes, like it's very suitable when you are at the tail end of the race, winning.



- And yes, this is now Barry R.'s official debut in this fanfiction universe. Sophy and Bob are coming soon. :lol:











 
Last edited:
Act 19 - Alto Livello




Location: Nurburgring Nordschliefe, Germany
Time: 1 pm, one week later




After that championship, Giacomo's routines seemingly return to normal. After all, he is one of Ferrari's chosen drivers in their Young Driver program.

Anselmo De Rossi is pleased with the results, and now offers both Giacomo and Pietro a new challenge, now that both drivers have secured their FIA Superlicences.


And with that, Giacomo has never been this hectic ever since...



The torrential rain doesn't bother him in the slightest. And what's he driving?



Nürburgring Nordschleife_.jpeg



A Ferrari FXX-K. But isn't that a customer track day car only allowed outside on Ferrari's official race events?



Nürburgring Nordschleife__1.jpeg



As it turns out, it serves an entirely different purpose...




Nürburgring Nordschleife__2.jpeg



"Geez, a thousand horsepower on the wet? And keeping it in check for twenty four hours?" Giacomo mused as he feathers the throttle, attempting to reign in the car's massive power output only with his right foot.



As what Giacomo said, the FXX-K is modified extensively for the upcoming VLN 24 Hour race. It has entirely different components that would ensure longevity for that grueling competition. The FIA decided to add another class, now reserved for experimental vehicles with little restrictions dubbed the "Hyper Endurance" class.


In the midst of his concentration, Giacomo hears a static coming from the radio. It's his father, Benito.


"Giac, head back to the pit lane. Someone wants to meet you." Benito said.


"Okay, got it." Giacomo replied.


"And you need a little recuperation too. You've been driving all day." Benito added.


Nürburgring Nordschleife__3.jpeg



Nürburgring Nordschleife__4.jpeg



And yes, Giacomo is extracting as much as he possibly can from the hypercar.


Nürburgring Nordschleife__5.jpeg



"I wonder if Alfonso will come to play in the VLN? It would be boring if he wouldn't." Giacomo wondered as he wrestles control of the car.



Nürburgring Nordschleife__6.jpeg




Nürburgring Nordschleife__7.jpeg



He drops the pace and then enters the pit lane.


Nürburgring Nordschleife__8.jpeg



He parks the car under the tent, and he alights from it while being inspected by the crew. He sees Benito, alongside De Luca and De Rossi speaking to a certain driver...



The driver in question has a brown mullet tied into a bun with a full beard.



Giacomo joins them, and smiles the moment he sees their guest.



"Giac, he will be joining the VLN as well. Meet Antonio Giovinazzi." Benito said.


"A pleasure and an honor to meet you, sir." Giacomo said as he shakes hands with Giovinazzi.


"I have heard wonderful stories about you. And you're in Super Formula too? Nice work." Giovinazzi said.


"You have raced with the stalwarts of Formula 1, and conquered Le Mans. The list will go on and on." Giacomo said.


"I am just as young and eager as you are. Let's win together." Giovinazzi replied and extends a bro fist, which Giacomo reciprocates.





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


Location: Autodromo Lago Maggiore, Italy
Time: 3 pm, one week later





Testing cars is now part of Giacomo's routine. He doesn't mind the chaos at all, as long as he gets to drive a diverse array of Prancing Horses in the stable.



But he returns to the helm of the La Super Formula, as Ferrari wants to get valuable data before the season begins.


He has been on the track since morning, doing more than a hundred laps.


And then, as he runs with a fresh set of tires...



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course_.jpeg





...an unexpected guest enters the circuit.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__1.jpeg




De Luca, seeing this sudden entrance, quickly opens up the communications.



"Giac, uhhh... someone has entered the circuit. Just let him pass." De Luca said.


"Huh? Who?" Giacomo asked.


"No idea. Never noticed there even was another crew until now." De Luca replied.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__2.jpeg





"Okay... I'll make way. But now you have gotten me curious." Giacomo said.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__3.jpeg



Giacomo keeps his pace, unaware that the said intruder is approaching rapidly.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__4.jpeg




Upon returning the main straight, De Luca recognizes who the other driver is.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__5.jpeg



"Giac... I'm pretty sure you recognize the other driver..." De Luca said.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__6.jpeg




"Huh? Who?" Giacomo asked.


As if having heard his query, that other driver lines up beside Giacomo.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__7.jpeg




Giacomo looks at his right, and then sees the number.


Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__8.jpeg




Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__10.jpeg



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__9.jpeg



Upon recognizing the driver, Giacomo feels this sudden surge of adrenaline... he has suddenly become jolted with excitement.


He then smirks as he sees the driver right in front.



Autodrome Lago Maggiore - Full Course__11.jpeg





Giacomo would then utter....




"No...




...you will not have the win."









THE END




AUTHOR'S NOTES:


- I have actually saved the replay of that last bit. I can post the entire race by request as a Bonus Entry.





- The next arc shall start this weekend. Or Friday the earliest.















 
STARS & STRIPES




Finish Line_.jpeg






Dave Lempel returns home after his successful stint in the World Touring Car Championship.


While opportunities await for him, he feels that he has to tie up loose ends he left brought about his arrest.

His true redemption begins.



TIMELINE: Set after the events of Neo, running alongside Iniziare.



NEW CHARACTERS:


1. Anthony Argyros


Nationality: American
Age: 26

Bio: Anthony Argyros hails from New York, coming from a close-knit family with Greek heritage. While he currently lives alone in an apartment in Queens, he does visit his family during holidays in the upstate. He has aspirations for racing, having started karting at the age of 10 but of course as a mere hobby of sorts until he began competing at the age of 15.

Upon turning 20, Anthony began shifting interest to tinkering cars. He was involved in a few street racing activities until he got arrested by the cops. Despite that, that didn't deter his racing aspirations until he met Dave Lempel, a well-renowned tuner who wanted to build a racing team. Dave set Anthony right, completely abandoning street racing and relegated the latter's focus on the safer confines of the racing circuit. Anthony enjoyed this newfound path, even though their success on the track was moderate.

However, the joy was cut short after Dave's arrest... and with that, his aspirations having gone down the drain.




2. Michael Hackett


Nationality: American
Age: 30


Bio: Michael "Mike" Hackett is one of the in-demand drivers in the USA. He began racing as soon as he got his driving license, competed in touring car races using his father's Mustang race cars. Because of his success, major sponsors took notice, until the newly-formed Red Bull Ford Racing took him in, and has since flourished under its umbrella.



3. Darren Christ

Nationality: American
Age: 25


Bio: Darren Christ is Mike Hackett's fellow driver in the newly-formed Red Bull Ford Racing team. He too, is blessed with technical knowledge and has further improved his driving skills. He looks up to his teammate, but aims to be one day take part in the big leagues of single seat racing series such as the Super Formula and Formula 1.





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




Act 1 - Focus




"Ladies and gentlemen, in a few moments, we are about to start our initial descent to the John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York.

Please fasten your seatbelts when the seatbelt light sign is on and ensure your tray tables are stowed, and window shades raised as we prepare for our landing.


Once again, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude in choosing to fly Virgin Atlantic airlines. We will look forward in seeing you again in future flights."




Dave is awakened by the announcement. He is exhausted by the trip, having woken up early in the morning flying from Cologne, then having a stopover at Heathrow in London.


He makes his usual stretching routine. It didn't take long to finally make a touchdown at JFK airport.



An hour later, Dave settles at a hotel in Manhattan. Dave is from Los Angeles, and yet what is he doing in New York?


He gets his phone after putting down his luggage on the carpet. He calls the Neo Headquarters.



"Hey, Dave here. I just arrived in New York. Letting you know that I'm fine. I hope you're all doing well and don't worry, I'll be back immediately once I've done everything. I can't leave it like this." Dave says as he puts the message as voice mail.


He opens the curtains, and sees some droplets on the window. He takes off his jacket.




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


The next day, Dave heads out of the hotel, and walks to the nearest subway station. Despite his recent success, no eyes are on him, which actually is a relief for Dave.



"I'm no F1 driver. That's fine." Dave mumbles to himself as he descends the steps leading to the subway.


He gets on the train heading to Queens. He pulls out a piece of paper, with a certain address written on it. He also looks at his smartphone, showing the directions to the said location.



Dave arrives at an apartment. It looks upmarket with big windows and balconies. He enters at the reception giving an impression of a hotel ambiance.


He goes to 10th floor, and upon arriving, he stops at room 1018. Dave double checks by looking at that paper again, and the room is indeed correct.


He rings the doorbell. The door opens after a few moments. The man who opened it is a young one, almost in the same age as Dave's. He fixes his hair, but then he faces Dave once more.



"Hey... Anthony." Dave said.


The man is named Anthony Argyros, and both seem to be familiar with each other. Anthony looks at Dave.



Then at a rather random moment, a fist lands on Dave's face with force powerful enough for Dave to almost lose balance. Anthony hyperventilates. Dave smirks.


"I deserve that." Dave said.


"You really do. You've got guts to come here. What? You just placed third in some touring car championship and then come to see me?" Anthony said.


"I just want to talk." Dave replied.


"Come in." Anthony said to Dave, as he leads him to the living area.


"Clean as ever." Dave said as he looks around the well-organized room.


"Better than prison." Anthony replied.


"Yeah, I agree." Dave said.


"I'm doing fine, if you're here to ask. And I'm having a nice desk job in some big company in Manhattan. But hey, Czarina donated some." Anthony said as he pours soda on a glass with ice.


"She kept her word." Dave said.


"Oh yeah? But what about you? Everyone just packed their bags and left. The police seized the assets. Customers had to get their cars back on the risk of being seized as well. The garage... empty. And so do my dreams." Anthony said, then he takes a sip.



"An apology isn't enough. I'm here to fix everything. I can't leave everything as is." Dave replied.


"Well, good luck. The crew no longer wants to associate with you. Can't hang out with a criminal, even if the law deems you clean." Anthony said.


"I'll do whatever I can. I still haven't forgotten my promise." Dave said.


"What? You're going to embezzle YOUR new team's funds? I'm out of this." Anthony replied.


"No. I'll do this clean. Just... give me a chance. Please. I can't go back to my team until I tie up all loose ends here. This is personal for me as well." Dave said.


"Well, if I said yes, will we still have a car to go off of? We're basically zero." Anthony said.


"Yes. In fact, it's the only one sitting in the garage in L.A. It was well-kept." Dave replied.


Anthony briefly drinks the contents of his drink, and places the glass with a little bit of force on the kitchen counter top. He looks up, then returns his gaze at Dave.


"Okay then... I'll... give it a shot. Again. Besides, I want to have a little shakedown of my newly tuned car tomorrow at The Glen. Figured I need some feedback." Anthony said.


"Nice. Good. Good. We'll do that." Dave replied.


"Just don't teach me about embezzlement. My parents value hard work." Anthony said.


"Can't let me hear the end of it, huh?" Dave said and he chuckles.



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


The next day, Dave returns to Anthony's apartment at dawn. Then the two head to the parking lot. Anthony presents his Ford Focus RS.


Las Vegas Parking Lot_.jpeg



"Nice. These things are common in Europe." Dave remarked.


"I want a daily driver and track toy but without the pain. So there." Anthony replied.


"Let's go. I'm eager to see if you still got it." Dave said.


"Oh I will show you." Anthony replied.





They leave as the sun rises. Watkins Glen is a 5-hour drive from The Big Apple.


They arrive at 10 in the morning. The pair make the initial checks such as the tire pressure and temperature of both oil and water.



Pit Lane, Watkins Glen_.jpeg



Once everything is in order, they set off.



"Okay, warm up lap done. Now floor it." Dave ordered to Anthony.


The lightly modified hot hatchback tears up the straight, and then Anthony takes advantage of the new racing brakes he installed.


Though he braked rather late... too late.


The RS would plow on the first corner.



Watkins Glen Long Course_.jpeg




"You overdid it. I can hear lots of screeching." Dave remarked.



Watkins Glen Long Course__1.jpeg




But then Anthony got the chicane right, hitting the apexes.



Watkins Glen Long Course__2.jpeg



"Getting better." Dave said.


"I'm not that rusty, you know?" Anthony replied.


Doing another downshift, the exhaust overrun creates popping sounds as well. The RS tucks in decently on the inside.



Watkins Glen Long Course__3.jpeg



Watkins Glen Long Course__4.jpeg




A few more laps have dialed in, and then Dave instructs Anthony to go back to the pit lane.



"Okay, that was not bad. Although you still need more seat time. And perhaps, a sim." Dave said.


"Whoa... you're saying all of those now? Europe changed you a lot, I see." Anthony said.


"Gotta admit, yes. Neo is the team I aspired to have... until Czarina's father took it all away. It has everything. But the best part? Everyone there is supportive. Focused, yes, but still knows when to loosen up." Dave replied.


Dave clears his throat.


"The car has decent yaw, but if you do a bit of left foot braking, then that might improve. As a street car, ride is harsh as expected, but..." Dave said until Anthony cuts him off.


"I get it. No need to talk too much about it. Well, what's next?" Anthony asked.


"Los Angeles. You will reunite with the race car you wanted to drive all along. You even built it, right?" Dave replied.


There was a brief silence.



"Yes. I miss that." Anthony said.




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


Two days later, the men left New York and make their way to LA via a plane. They arrive at sunset, and Dave secured a rental car for them to get around.



By 8 in the evening, they finally arrive at the Lempel Technologies garage.


West 16th Street_.jpeg



Anthony looks around, and notices the void.


"I used to look endlessly at the customer cars here. It's like a pile. That space... it feels new." Anthony remarked.


Dave opens up the electronic garage door. It slowly rises, unveiling the racing car that Dave kept.


GReddy Performance Products_.jpeg



"You spent most of the time building this while I was competing with Czarina. We knew, since you were supposed in the paddock helping us, heh." Dave said.


"Yeah, sorry about that. I just love this thing." Anthony said.


"Don't worry, some of the sponsors contacted me. Their faith has been restored. We can go..." Dave said.


"But we don't have a crew." Anthony said.


"Yeah... that." Dave replied, scratching his head.


He breathes out a sigh... and then suddenly, as if on cue, a large trailer arrives, wheezing as it makes a stop. The two men turn their attention. Dave's eyes widened.



It's a familiar sight. Men in neon green uniforms get out of not just one, but two trailers. Equipment is being rolled out, creating noise in an otherwise peaceful evening.


Approaching the pair is none other than Abel Kern.


"So... did you leave without taking the crew with you? Come on, Dave. Be a little more professional." Abel says with a smile.


"I.... didn't know..." Dave said, still in surprise.


"My brother told me what happened. And he truly is a shepherd. He looks after all of his sheep. All of them." Abel said.



Anthony smiles in awe seeing the Neo crew pulling in the equipment.


"So, let's get to work. And these guys deserve extra pay this evening. My brother, being one heck of a businessman, wants to expand Neo's operations to the States. Dream Alliance once planned this but folded since Hiroyuki Hiramoto's death. He placed these during the time you were racing for us in Europe." Abel explained.


"Heh... I have no words to say. But... thanks. Thank you so much." Dave replied.


"You don't have to do everything all by yourself, David. Even redemption is a team effort." Abel said, extending his hand.


Dave shakes Abel's hand.



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


Location: Willow Springs Raceway, Rosamond, CA
Time: 10 am, two days later




With Dave's plans now bolstered by Gerhard's backing, he can finally restart his dreams. And as for Anthony, he will give his racing career another shot.



Willow Springs International Raceway_ Streets of Willow Springs_.jpeg


The crew are in a large tent, waiting for whatever changes or feedback they need to hear.


Anthony is getting the grips of the car he once built.



Willow Springs International Raceway_ Streets of Willow Springs__1.jpeg



The Challenger's supercharger whine can be heard echoing throughout the track.



"You Americans love your whiny superchargers." Abel said.


"And you love your dinky little snails." Dave replied.


"At least our dinky little snails make our equally tiny cars go faster than their size dictates." Abel said.


"Yeah, I find it unfathomable a Golf GTI can be as fast as a Mustang on a track. How'd you guys do it?" Dave asked.



Willow Springs International Raceway_ Streets of Willow Springs__2.jpeg



In the car, Anthony is keeping the car in line.


"I know.. this isn't built for tracks like these. But I see potential." Anthony thought.


Willow Springs International Raceway_ Streets of Willow Springs__3.jpeg



To meet regulations for the upcoming American Touring Car Championship, the Challenger's power output was reduced but weight has been shaved down to a considerable amount.



Willow Springs International Raceway_ Streets of Willow Springs__4.jpeg



"Those Neo guys can turn this brick into a supercar. They're geniuses." Anthony muses.


Willow Springs International Raceway_ Streets of Willow Springs__5.jpeg



Willow Springs International Raceway_ Streets of Willow Springs__6.jpeg



Anthony's smile gets wider the more he spends time behind the helm.



They're off to a good start.





End of Act 1















 

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Act 2 - Clipping The Wings



Location: Watkins Glen International, New York
Time: 7:30 pm




Meanwhile, on the Eastern coast of the States, back in The Glen...


Watkins Glen Long Course_.jpeg



Watkins Glen Long Course__1.jpeg



A Super Formula donning the colors and scheme of the USA flag, is having a shakedown all by itself. It's being ran by Andretti Motorsport, who has high hopes in getting in the world of single-seater racing.


Watkins Glen Long Course__2.jpeg



Watkins Glen Long Course__3.jpeg



Watkins Glen Long Course__4.jpeg



And who is at the helm? None other than Isaiah Geronimo, who has accepted a seat in Andretti Motorsport.


Watkins Glen Long Course__5.jpeg



"Okay, I think I can call it a day." Isaiah said.


He does have a right to do so. After all, he has been testing the car all day.



Pit Garage_.jpeg




After returning to the paddock, Isaiah cools off. Approaching him is his engineer, Gordon Kesler.


"How's the cooling modules?" Gordon asked.

"Oh, they're working as intended. I am more focused on dialing out that high speed understeer. Although if we iron that out, it's going to turn into a death trap..." Isaiah remarked.


"Don't worry, we will work on that." Gordon replied.


Isaiah takes a big, deep sigh as he sorts out his wavy hair.


"By the way, how's the search for another driver?" Isaiah asked.


Gordon answered. "We are still on the hunt. And if you are concerned on making it to the Super Formula, you don't have to worry a thing. We already have secured a spot on the grid. Formula 1, on the other hand..."



Isaiah chuckles, but then he grabs a drink from the refrigerator to help himself.




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


Location: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Atlanta
Time: 2 pm, three weeks later





The first round of the American Touring Car Championship goes at full swing, with the qualifying session underway.


Team Neo's crew is finalizing the settings for the Challenger, while Anthony and Dave look outside.


"Tough crowd out there." Dave said.


"I'll manage. And your crew rocks." Anthony replied.


"They're the stuff of my dreams. Someday I'll have my own." Dave said.



The encouragement is quickly dissipated by the arrival of Charlie Kesler, who joins them after recognizing Dave.


"Oh, you again? Heh." Charlie said with a smirk.


"How are you?" Dave asked.


"Doing fine. Czarina is having her hands full, though." Charlie replied.






Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta _.jpeg



"Aren't you worried about the competition?" Dave asked.


"Not anymore. Now with you around." Charlie replied.


"Why?" Dave asked.


"Yeah... those Red Bull guys. They're everywhere. Like... literally. I thought it's just an F1 thing." Charlie said.


"What do you mean?" Dave asked.



Background Music: Initial D 4th Stage Sound Files - Todo Juku


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __1.jpeg



"Last year, they have toppled Ravenwest Racing on ALL fronts of the American racing scene. IndyCar, ALMS, GTE PRO AM, you name it...



...and now they're dubbed the "The Bulls That Clipped The Raven's Wings". They ended Ravenwest's dominance in all of America." Charlie answered.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __2.jpeg



"There's Mike Hackett. Said to be one of The Proteges. One of the youngest ones apparently. Never heard of that group. Said to be ran by a legendary race car driver in Europe until he tragically died." Charlie added.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __4.jpeg



Charlie further added, "And there's Darren Christ. Won't shut his yap about his F1 aspirations, but he does have the skill to back up that otherwise loud mouth."


"Red Bull, huh? Who would've thought a company selling energy drinks would grow to be an empire?" Anthony commented.


"They even have a dedicated tech center in the United Kingdom. They're nuts." Charlie said.


"I'm sure they have painfully high standards." Anthony said.


"I don't care. As long as any of us here beats those two, I will be more than satisfied." Charlie said.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __5.jpeg


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __6.jpeg



Charlie would then enter the fray to set lap times.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __7.jpeg



And eventually, Anthony sets off.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __8.jpeg



Further modifications were performed. The car now has a wider stance.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __9.jpeg




Anthony is left mesmerized by the changes done to the race car he once built. The Challenger would carve the turns with ample traction, something that isn't expected from a car of that size.


"Wow... so this is the handiwork of professionals. I have so much to learn!" Anthony thought.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __10.jpeg



Rigidity has been improved as well.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __11.jpeg



"I'm loving this already!" Anthony exclaimed over the radio.


"Glad to hear. But please focus. We have a time to set." Dave replied.







End of Act 2
 

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Act 3 - A Lump of Brick



The next day, the 1st round race proper commences. All the cars line up and their grid positions were determined by yesterday's qualifying.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta _.jpeg



Anthony places 4th. But for him, grid positions do not matter.



"I'll make a sweep. It's possible." Anthony muttered.



David says over the radio, "Keep your focus on this. But let's be realistic here as well; those Red Bull guys are the real deal."


"I'll keep that in mind, but I'm staying optimistic." Anthony replied.


3...



2...



1...



And the lights set off. The Challenger's less than ideal weight distribution results in excessive wheelspin at launch.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __1.jpeg




But it maintained its position.



"Whew, I thought I was goner there. Rear wheels don't hook up." Anthony said.




Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __2.jpeg




However, Neo's technical prowess more than makes up for that glaring weakness, as it overtakes Charlie Kesler.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __3.jpeg




"Argh! I hate that supercharger whine. Don't rub it off my face." Charlie remarked as the loud high pitched supercharger noise echoes through as the Challenger makes a pass.



Charlie adds, "But it doesn't matter. As long as any of us beat the snot of those Red Bulls, I'm more than happy. Counting on you."



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __4.jpeg




However, Hackett's Ford GT rockets out of the back straight.



"That Ford GT is a headache." Anthony remarked.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __5.jpeg



"Our team may be well-funded, but Red Bull clearly cuts above the rest. Those cars might have been sent to their HQ in UK to be modified extensively." David explained.


Upon hearing the statement, Anthony buries his right foot hard.



Background Music: Love Shining - Kasanova


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __6.jpeg




He aims squarely at a Lexus RCF driven by a Canadian named Hugo Deschamps.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __7.jpeg



And makes a clean pass.



"I don't give a damn." Anthony replied.


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David smirks upon hearing Anthony's response.



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Anthony has to wrestle the Challenger, knowing very well that the car's chassis is almost two decades old.


And the car has made it well known to him.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __11.jpeg




"Understeer! But I'm fine." Anthony said.


Meanwhile, Charlie makes progress.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __12.jpeg



The two Fords have consistent pace... that it makes them look robotic.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __13.jpeg



Anthony isn't giving his quarter either...



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __14.jpeg




And upon starting another lap, David looks at the telemetry. His eyes widen.



"Uh... Anthony... you just set the fastest lap time. 1 minute 21 seconds." David reported.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __15.jpeg



"What have I told you? Not even a fancy laboratory or whatever that is can stop us." Anthony replied.




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"Love your enthusiasm, bro. I think you can hurl a brick at those bulls." David said.


"And this brick will knock them out." Anthony replied with a confident smirk on his face.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __17.jpeg




End of Act 3




 
Act 4 - Upset



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Anthony's vigor knows no bounds. With him now being the fastest in terms of lap times, there is no clear signs of holding back.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __1.jpeg


And he further gives praise to the rather unorthodox choice of a car.



"I'd never expect this much traction from a Challenger. Back then, I was even having second thoughts after getting this." Anthony remarked.


He is now within striking distance to the Red Bulls.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __2.jpeg



Darren is taken by surprise as he sees the bright green Challenger at the rear view mirror.

"What in the world?! Am I daydreaming? Please tell me I don't!" Darren exclaimed.

The supercharger whine grows ever closer.


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Darren's Mustang left too much space.



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"I made it work, 'Stang boy. Surprised?" Anthony said.
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The GT is next.



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Hackett is then made aware of the Challenger's fastest lap.



"Okay, Mike.... we are still short of the Challenger's fastest."


"I know what Neo is capable of. I shouldn't be surprised." Hackett replied.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __7.jpeg



Dave then says over the radio, "All right, put some pressure. Contact is pretty much allowed so don't hesitate."


"Don't mind if I do." Anthony replied.


He would then move in, attempting to steal the Ford GT's line.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __8.jpeg



Mike would then veer away, to avoid contact. This would lead to the GT losing its momentum.


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Anthony seizes the opening, burying the throttle and literally scraping past Hackett.


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Hearing the clash of metals, Mike fighting the wheel.



"What does he think he is?!" Mike said.



"How's that? A street racer knows no bounds. Well... ex-street racer." Anthony said.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __11.jpeg



Dave sees the overtake over the live feed.



"Nice! What a way to show that we mean business!" Dave exclaimed.


"Ain't no fancy race team can stop us. We are starting to pluck their horns." Anthony replied.



"This is a short race, but please conserve your tires. Even our engineers remark that Challenger loves to eat tires for breakfast." Dave ordered.



"Okay. Gotcha." Anthony replied.



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Mike can only watch in total disbelief as the Challenger flees.



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"This is embarrassing." Mike said.



Meanwhile, Isaiah watches over the grandstand overlooking the start/finish line.



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He hears the crowd talking among themselves on how the Challenger got the lead considering Red Bull's domineering performance.



"Neo, huh?" Isaiah mused.


His engineer, Gordon, is sitting beside him, also amused by the Challenger's antics.


"Wouldn't you believe that land yacht trampled those bulls? Say, would he make a good teammate for you?" Gordon asked.


"He has the potential." Isaiah replied.



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And with that, the first round was done in a snap.




First Round result:





Argyros - 20



Hackett - 18



Christ - 15



Kesler - 12



Lautner - 10



Santamaria -8



Mariano - 6



Deschamps - 5



Talley - 4



Geronimo - 3



Wallner - 2



Martinelli - 1









End of Act 4




 
Last edited:
Act 5 - The Vision




Location: Somewhere in Detroit, Michigan
Time: 3 pm, two days later





Somewhere in the busy streets of the Motor City, there lies a garage filled with numerous large trailers, painted in familiar dark blue and red schemes.


As it turns out, it is one among the many of Red Bull Racing's headquarters, a base in the USA for their American racing operations.



Walking among the employees, Mike Hackett and Darren Christ head over to the specialized facility where their racing machines are stashed.



Izumo-class Destroyer_.jpeg



Fresh from his unexpected defeat on the hands of Team Neo, Mike shows a rather somber expression, but only for a brief moment as he is approached by his manager named Ash Parker who has direct contact to the main headquarters in Austria.



"Good day, gents. Well, thank you for coming on short notice." Ash said.


"So, what are we doing here?" Darren asked.


"I just want a brief talk. Well, that performance on Sunday was brilliant, no doubt... but unexpected. Team Neo?" Ash replied.


"That team came out of nowhere." Darren said.


"You didn't bother making research, did you? Well, that team is ran by a former race car driver who apparently rose from the dead. Gerhard Kern? Rings a bell? Add the fact that a former street racer humbled us..." Ash said.


"I came short, gotta admit that." Mike replied.


Then Mike focuses on the wider bodied Ford GT, modified for a different purpose.



Izumo-class Destroyer__1.jpeg



"Oh, weren't you gunning for that? That car is tuned for the VLN, on the new "Hyper" class or whatever. Cesar Vasquez and Sebastien Buemi are confirmed to be part of the 4-man team." Ash said.


"Yes. That's right." Mike replied.


"Then step it up if you want to belong. You are aware that Red Bull drops drivers like hot potatoes." Ash said.


"I'll keep that in mind. So... any further developments?" Mike asked.


"That is all. Just reminding you how much the late Sir Ben invested on you." Ash said, as he pats on Mike's shoulder and then leaves.


"Seesh... talk about being a slave driver." Darren remarked.


"We've been through losses before, but I did not expect the Austrian HQ to seriously considering cutting their losses now." Mike replied.


Then Mike steps out, heading towards the outside.


"Hey, wait!" Darren shouted as he follows his teammate.




Mike takes a deep breath, closing his eyes...





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



Mike reminisces his meeting with the fellow Proteges several months prior, in Paris.


Though he has no contact with the majority of others as they have moved forward either maintaining their careers in motorsport or having taken entirely different career paths, he still keeps in touch with a certain few.




Arriving in their meeting place first, in Red Bull's NSX company car, is Mike... with Darren tagging along despite not being part of the clique.



Sacré-Cœur__1.jpeg



And then appearing simultaneously in an Aston Martin Valkryie with a Monaco plate is none other Cesar Vasquez.


Sacré-Cœur_.jpeg



Exiting from the car, Cesar straightens his blazer.



"Ay dios mio... this car doesn't make you look good getting in or out." Cesar said.



Mike proceeds to share a brotherly hug with Cesar. Darren shakes hands with him as well.



"It's been long." Mike said.


"¿Qué tal? Heard you have toppled Ravenwest in the Stateside." Cesar said.


"Not easy. But yeah, we finally did it." Mike replied.


As the gust of wind blows, Mike straightens his perm.


"So, are we waiting for another one?" Darren asked.


"Yes." Cesar replied.


On cue, they hear loud footsteps. It's Takuma, wearing aviator sunglasses with matching brown trench coat. He smirks, but then he greets both Cesar and Mike warmly.



"How you've been?" Takuma asked.


"Better than ever, amigo." Cesar replied.


"What about you? I've never heard anything from you ever since Dream Alliance disbanded." Mike asked.


"I was... resting. But then something in me just reignited, after everything going on." Takuma replied.


"That Maximilian Marsh... I smell something off from him." Mike said.


"I'm arranging my return as we speak. But definitely I have never forgotten the late Sir Ben's vision for us. Today is his birthday, you know?" Takuma said.


Cesar, Mike and Takuma briefly look up the sky, leaving Darren bewildered.



"What?" Darren asked.


"My father invested so much in the Red Bull X Program, not just to us. Hence why we were trained in Milton Keynes." Takuma said.


"You made it to Scuderia Toro Rosso back then. I was in F4. I was even jealous looking at your test runs back then." Cesar said.



"And now, Benjamin is in Super Formula." Takuma said.


"Ah, that mijo, hehe. Don't worry, Takuma-san. He is still in my good hands." Cesar replied.


"I have no worries about him at all. Just make sure you check him in his apartment back in Monaco, okay? You are literally living next to each other." Takuma said.


"What are your plans?" Mike asked.



Takuma takes off his sunglasses.



"I am looking for a worthy successor of mine. Someone who has the same fire." Takuma replied.


"Well, why not your children?" Cesar asked.


"No... I want them to live their lives on their own accords. Besides, they have different kinds of flames." Takuma replied.


"You are as odd as ever." Mike remarked.


"You both focus on carrying on his legacy. He wanted dominance, so let's give him that. Doesn't matter if you happen to cross me or my team. But... no more crazy shenanigans." Takuma said.



"All right, we can do that. But it's just the three... or four of us here, amigo." Cesar replied.


"That's what Sir Ben would have wanted, anyway. He had the knack for subtlety. We will strike them when they least expect it." Takuma said.


"And what happens when you found this... "successor" of yours?" Mike asked.



"I'll guide that person... to be the better version of me. He or she... will be Sir Ben's protege, not mine." Takuma replied.



"Hmph... fine." Mike said.



"Both of you must make sure to set the hurdles excruciatingly high. That's all I ask. Win every race. Leave no quarter to anyone, even me.




"I shall henceforth, declare this day, the founding of...









"...Il Nuovo Discepoli"





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



A week later, in Daytona, Florida...​


Ishikawa Body_.jpeg



Team Neo has rented a facility nearby the Daytona International Speedway to stash their equipment and the car.



Dave is making final checks before the race day.



"Cooling is optimal. Tire pressures are stable." Dave said.



Anthony yawns.



"Well, what a day of setting up. Daytona is purely a high speed circuit, even if we are racing the road course variant." Anthony said.


"Though our car's aerodynamics are similar to that of a brick. We can't deny that. We did everything we can to beef up the handling to make up for it." Dave replied.




"I can turn the tables just like the previous round." Anthony said.



"No doubt about that. Heh." Dave replied with a smile.




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



And so... the race day comes.


A rolling start method was decided after thorough deliberation. Neo qualified on 6th, proving Dave's point correct.




Daytona Road Course_.jpeg



Daytona Road Course__1.jpeg



Mike blitzes the lead... now reminded once more of his late mentor's vision in the world of racing.




End of Act 5






















 
Act 6 - Daytona Throwdown


Red Bull Racing once again leads the charge, but crowds know very well that Daytona offers a different kind of thrill, that even the underdog can come out on top.


Daytona Road Course_.jpeg




Daytona Road Course__1.jpeg



Charlie aims squarely at Mike.


Daytona Road Course__2.jpeg




"Now's my turn. You Red Bull guys love to make us look like clowns. I'm turning the tables today." Charlie said.



Meanwhile, Anthony is preparing for his charge at the chicane's exit.




Daytona Road Course__3.jpeg



"Okay Anthony, you've got better momentum from the chicane. You can charge." Dave said over the radio.


Daytona Road Course__4.jpeg



And here it is, the Challenger blitzing past Charlie's C8 as if it's a traffic pole.


Daytona Road Course__5.jpeg



And Anthony grabs the lead on the very first lap, raising more eyebrows from the crowd and others cheering loudly.


Daytona Road Course__6.jpeg




"So... what are you saying about this being a brick?" Anthony asked.


"Don't be too cocky." David replied.



And the warning serves, as the Challenger plows through turn 1.


Daytona Road Course__7.jpeg



And Mike easily takes advantage of the opening.


Daytona Road Course__9.jpeg







Daytona Road Course__10.jpeg




"Not for long. Not for long." Anthony said.


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Anthony's move leaves Mike undeterred.


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"Is that all you got? I expect more from a "street" racer." Mike said.





Daytona Road Course__13.jpeg




"Street racers. Always using danger as an excuse to show their bravado. Yeah, as if we pros are pampered. Oh we have it easy." Mike remarked.



Daytona Road Course__14.jpeg



But he can't lament further as another opponent went into an offensive.



Daytona Road Course__15.jpeg


Anthony sees only a speck of the Ford GT at the rear.


"What's wrong? Better re-think your strategy." Anthony said.


Daytona Road Course__16.jpeg



Dave overhears Anthony's outbursts.



"You know, it pays to be humble. And... Red Bull didn't get this far to be laughed. If anything, it is US who should be on our guard." Dave said.


Daytona Road Course__17.jpeg



"What are you implying?" Anthony asked.


Daytona Road Course__18.jpeg




"I've heard back then... some drivers were once members of an elite clique, trained by a legendary racer from Britain." David replied.



Daytona Road Course__19.jpeg



Daytona Road Course__20.jpeg



"Well, I haven't felt a shred of their presence. So..." Anthony said.



Daytona Road Course__21.jpeg



"Just focus. Don't tease. I have a bad feeling about this. It may not be in this round, but..." David said.



Daytona Road Course__22.jpeg




The Red Bull Fords are pretty much in the midfield, prompting concern from Darren.



"Hey bro... are you all right?" Darren thought.



Daytona Road Course__23.jpeg






End of Act 6





AUTHOR'S NOTES:




- I have decided to make this story arc a two-part series. Currently, this will be about Dave fulfilling his promise and the next one will be Mike Hackett's rough path in Red Bull Racing.



 
Act 7 - Too Smooth



Daytona Road Course_.jpeg



The spectators haven't seen it coming...



Daytona Road Course__1.jpeg



...that once again, a car primarily designed to set records on a drag strip, would lead on a road car race with twists and turns.



Daytona Road Course__2.jpeg



Dave is amazed by the progress so far, but of course as Anthony's strategist, he has to keep tabs.


"How are the tires, Tony?" Dave asked.


"Well, the car's a bit sketchy now. Maybe I'll pit in after two laps. Three max." Anthony replied.


"Gotcha." Dave said.


Daytona Road Course__3.jpeg



Anthony can't let up despite the Red Bull Fords having fell back on the mid field. The Corvette and the Camaro are far better cars on the circuit.



Daytona Road Course__4.jpeg



Meanwhile, Abel Kern is not so optimistic about the current situation they are in.



Daytona Road Course__5.jpeg



"Red Bull falling back like this? Something is not right..." Abel thought, crossing his arms and watching the crew prepare a new batch of Soft compounds.




Back in the action, it's time for Anthony to box in.


"Okay Tony, box box. I repeat. Box box." Dave said.


"Box?" Anthony asked.


"It means pit in. "Box" is a more phonetically distinct term. Soft tires are ready." Dave replied.


"Oh gotcha. Thought it's a European thing." Anthony said.


Dave can only chuckle at Anthony's naivete.


Daytona Road Course__6.jpeg



Daytona Road Course__7.jpeg



Gran Turismo® 7_20240717062541.jpg



Gran Turismo® 7_20240717062554.jpg




It's all set. The Challenger has a new set of rubber and its fuel replenished.



Daytona Road Course__8.jpeg


It exits the pit lane. Turns out, Mike Hackett boxed in too. The pit stop dropped Anthony's position down to 8th.



Daytona Road Course__9.jpeg



"All right. New rubber. And it's much grippier. I can fully floor this." Anthony said.


"Yeah. Bring it home. 2nd round is ours." Dave replied.



Daytona Road Course__10.jpeg



However, Abel continues to be cautiously optimistic.



"We are on a smooth sailing. But why do I get the feeling... that it is... too smooth?" Abel wondered.



Daytona Road Course__11.jpeg



Background Music: Initial D Fourth Stage Sound Files - Todo Juku (Extended)



"Both Red Bull cars are not doing anything at all..." Abel added.



Daytona Road Course__12.jpeg



Daytona Road Course__13.jpeg




Daytona Road Course__14.jpeg



Daytona Road Course__15.jpeg



As Anthony's Challenger roars (or rather whines) past the lead...



Daytona Road Course__16.jpeg




...Mike seems to be unfazed.


And then...



Daytona Road Course__17.jpeg



...he then impishly grins.



"This is just the beginning, Neo. We already know what you're capable of. We have planned EVERYTHING for this tournament. You are not the only geniuses around." Mike thought, as he keeps his pace.



The second round ends without incident. Neo once again snatches the win.






Second Round result:





Argyros - 40



Kesler - 27



Santamaria - 26



Hackett - 21



Christ - 21



Talley - 18



Wallner - 12



Lautner - 10



Deschamps - 9



Geronimo - 6



Mariano - 6



Martinelli - 6








End of Act 7
 
Last edited:
Act 8 - Steep




Location: Grand Valley Highway, California
Time: 2 pm, one week later.




Team Neo proceeds to California, specifically at the Grand Valley road circuit. While Anthony and the rest of the crew are in Los Angeles managing the settings of the car...



...Abel Kern and Dave watch the third round of the Ferrari F8 Challenge taking place at the same circuit.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__21.jpeg




The roars of turbocharged V8 motors and cheering crowds do not faze Dave at all. He focuses on the track layout instead.


Grand Valley - Highway 1__26.jpeg



"Wow... never thought they would be racing here. This track is nuts." Dave remarked, seeing the sharp drops and little runoff.


"Since it's just the two of us here, let me ask you a question." Abel said.


Grand Valley - Highway 1__29.jpeg



"Sure. What is it?" Dave asked.


"Anthony is doing fine himself. You are indeed fulfilling the promise you once broke. But... what about you? What are your plans for yourself?" Abel asked.


Dave takes a deep sigh, and looks at the Pacific coastline.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__18.jpeg



Grand Valley - Highway 1__25.jpeg



"I honestly... don't know. I haven't seen my trajectory yet. Sure, I came out clean, welcomed me here, flourished, and now helping someone out. I'm not sure if I should rebuild my garage or just stick to you guys and focus on racing." Dave replied.


"It's really difficult having a lot on your plate, huh? This is the point in our lives when we are stopped at the fork of a road. And you don't know what's ahead on all paths. For now, focus on winning this championship. Then we'll talk again." Abel said.


Grand Valley - Highway 1__26.jpeg




Seeing the Ferraris of Giacomo and Alphonse having a heated battle, Dave then smiles.



"I think I know which path to take. Thanks for the pep talk." Dave said.




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



One week later, it's now Neo's turn to brave through this treacherous street circuit on qualifying.



However, things are not as rosy.



Grand Valley - Highway 1_.jpeg



Music: Initial D 5th Stage Sound Files - A God of Death II


Grand Valley - Highway 1__1.jpeg



Mike and his GT are running at a comfortable pace, with no signs of handling anomalies.


Grand Valley - Highway 1__2.jpeg



Grand Valley - Highway 1__3.jpeg



"With steep elevation changes and continuous corners that test your car's yaw rate, your tires are roast here. Well, not a problem with this one. What about you, Challenger boy?" Mike thought, as he puts up a condescending grin.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__4.jpeg



"This shouldn't be a problem for a rowdy street racer like you, right? After all, this is a public road." Mike added.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__5.jpeg



"Street racers. Pfft. Using danger as an excuse to show off their bravado. And for what? Bragging rights? And you laugh at us professional drivers for being so uptight? You have no idea what we went through." Mike said, furthering his tirade.


And then Darren does not report issues either...



Grand Valley - Highway 1__6.jpeg



"This car feels great! And I'm even just a few milliseconds slower than Mike. We're on a roll!" Darren thought.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__7.jpeg


With Red Bull Racing's expertise, even the Mustang can be transformed into a scalpel on the corners.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__8.jpeg



Grand Valley - Highway 1__9.jpeg



What about Anthony?


Grand Valley - Highway 1__10.jpeg




"It's stable on high speed turns but I'm driving a barge on this track!" Anthony exclaimed.


Grand Valley - Highway 1__11.jpeg




Grand Valley - Highway 1__12.jpeg



The Challenger is losing time on gravel traps on the insides of the turns, and then showing understeer.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__13.jpeg



"I'm missing the apexes as well. I think I underestimated this track." Anthony said.


"You're a second off from Hackett. But we'll work on the car. Bring it back in." Dave said.


"Roger that." Anthony replied.


Grand Valley - Highway 1__14.jpeg


Grand Valley - Highway 1__15.jpeg



Abel crosses his arms, observing the crew looking at the telemetry and taking note of Anthony's feedback.



"I knew it. Red Bull's strategies are second to none. They knew what the Challenger is capable of. And then they use their knowledge of this track to their advantage. Their Ford GT being a mid-engined car will truly shine here. Those guys from Milton Keynes truly give us headaches. It's unfair." Abel mused.


Grand Valley - Highway 1__16.jpeg




"The Challenger can only thrive on slow-in, fast-out method of cornering to even keep its line clean. But clearly it's not enough." Abel added.




End of Act 8













 
Act 9 - Power Play




The next day, is another race day. 3rd round commences.


Grand Valley - Highway 1_.jpeg



Darren Christ got the pole position, while Anthony claimed second, which he himself was surprised after feeling that the qualifying yesterday was disastrous.


But that didn't bother Mike in the slightest, having to start in 3rd.



"Oh just you wait. The party has yet to start." Mike thought, as he waits for the lights to set off.



And they finally did. Anthony's Challenger got off to a good start.




Grand Valley - Highway 1__1.jpeg



But then Darren turns up the heat, as the Mustang is showing off its cornering prowess.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__2.jpeg



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Anthony is feeling a lot more confident than yesterday, though due in part to Neo's further adjustments to the Challenger.


"The car feels much better than yesterday. I just have to adjust my driving. I asked for slight oversteer on turn-in." Anthony thought.



Grand Valley - Highway 1__4.jpeg



Mike is merely biding his time, not even attempting to bury his right foot all the way down.



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"Go ahead, Neo. Darren is the bait that I cast." Mike thought.



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Suddenly, Mike tucks through the inside at turn 1, using its mid-engine layout advantage in braking.


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Anthony looks at his left, and he turns the wheel slightly to the left in an attempt to block Mike.



However, Mike held on to the anchors long enough for the Challenger to pass through, entering the hairpin safely.


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Anthony breathed a sigh.


"Whew. What a surprise." Anthony thought.



Mike smirks.



"Oh ho... I thought street racers are unpredictable? Wait... you didn't race much on the road, did you? I finally found your weakness." Mike deduced.



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"It's never about the car. A clown in an F1 car will still be a clown. People accuse us of relying too much on our cars to win. They are sorely mistaken." Mike thought.



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He then adds, "Darren is the prime example. You think Mustangs are crowd killers? You can't even catch him!"


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"I don't know what Neo saw in you that you are driving for them." Mike mused further.


The Mustang continues on with its provocation.


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As if answering in kind, Anthony makes his move on the hairpin.


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The two would then duel it out on the exit.


"I'm getting this." Anthony said.


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Darren wasn't able to to prevent Anthony from overtaking, though.







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"Shoot. I miscalculated there." Darren said.



Mike would then switch places with Darren.


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The GT locks on.


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"You may have talent. But clearly you have yet to find a place in this grueling world." Mike thought.



And once again, he teases Anthony at the second hairpin.


Music: Because of You - Jager


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"I gave him plenty of room!" Anthony exclaimed.


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And then Mike buries the throttle, knowing full well of the mid-engined layout. Anthony is left with no choice but to feather the accelerator.



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The GT would then demonstrate its full bravado.



"Now have a taste of Red Bull!" Mike exclaimed.



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Anthony's eyes widen upon seeing the sheer pace the GT delivers.


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"It's like... seeing a mirage." Anthony remarked, now with Mike's GT out of his sight.


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"Maybe you should try asking those Ravenwest racers how they felt when we kicked them from their high horses." Mike thought.



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End of Act 9
 

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