The Tomster’s not having the best of luck recently. Last week it was a malfunctioning Predictor that snatched third place away to destroy his dream of his first podium finish, this week it was the Tomster himself that shattered his hopes. Unlike last week though, where his predicted third place had only ever been a cruel fantasy, this week he’d held a genuine second place for most of the race, only to throw it away in the final heat. Worse, he threw away third too. A disaster? Tragic? Hilarious? I guess it depends whether your heart’s made of granite or candyfloss, so let’s just say it was amusingly sad. Not for nothing is racing described as character-building.
An impressive fifteen drivers had arrived to race Sideways Group 5, one of the best attendances so far this year. Lee won easily, but behind him it was a story of great racing throughout the field, the only exception being Mario.
The first three heats saw Lee build a huge lead, but behind him in second place was the Tomster, smooth and rapid in an Equipe Wheatley Ferrari 512 BB LM he’d borrowed for the evening. Chris, who like the Tomster was also vying for his first podium finish, was going well too.
At the other end of the race, Mario was keeping the marshals busy. He’d started the evening with a beautiful Gulf-liveried Mustang, but then progressively destroyed it, several huge crashes causing race stoppages so that marshals could crawl around in the dust to retrieve its broken bodywork. At one point Mario was seen slumped quietly next to the kitchen rubbish bin, apparently drowning his sorrows with a bottle of something. What the bottle contained is a mystery, but neat alcohol seems as good a guess as any, given the frequency and destructiveness of his crashes.
At the half-distance tea break Lee was miles ahead, the Tomster second, 0.37 ahead of David, then five seconds to Chris.
The Tomster extended his lead over David to 1.2 seconds in heat 4, then stretched it to 1.64 in heat 5. Chris was still fourth but closing in on David. Was it too soon for the Tomster to allow himself to dream? Would he finally achieve his podium? The Predictor wasn’t teasing him now, oh no. This time a podium spot really was Tom’s to lose. Chris, though, had other ideas. He wanted the podium too and was now lapping faster than both Tom and David. Just fifteen more laps, Tom. No pressure.
So to the trio’s final heats. With the seeding this week putting the Tomster in group 1 and David and Chris in group 2, it was the Tomster who went first. “Three, Two, One, Squeeze ’em” shouted the American geezer, and that’s exactly what the Tomster did. He squeezed his controller’s trigger and didn’t let go. Pillock! Utter, utter pillock!
The Tomster’s squeezing had been exemplary. The problem was his failure to unsqueeze soon enough. He’d cracked under pressure and crashed at the first corner. What an effing disaster. He was reslotted quickly and soon back into his rhythm to finish the heat, but had lost roughly three seconds. All he could do now was watch David and Chris complete their final heats and hope that he hadn’t lost too much time. It was a forlorn hope. David drove his best heat of the night, Chris his second-best, both jumping the Tomster and knocking him down to fourth, so instead of Tom getting his first podium, it was Chris who got his.
Congratulations Chris, tough luck Tom. For two weeks on the trot the Tomster’s dream had been shattered. Racing can be so cruel.