16/05/24: Slot.it DTM – Super Mario

Super Mario.

“On my way. I can’t wait to be in the same position as last week” said Mario to the club’s WhatsApp group before this week’s race, referring sarcastically to his dismal last-place finish the week before. How wrong he would turn out to be.

With Mario’s two DTM cars still “lost”, he’d once again borrowed a car from Jim, but this time he’d fettled it with a little more finesse than the brute-force hit-it-with-a-hammer rush-job of the previous week. His reward was better than he could ever have imagined: fourth place. Mario, the man who’s quietly persevered week after week, month after month, when many others would have given up, finished fourth. It was his best ever result and richly deserved.

At the head of the race Lee was in a class of his own, three tenths quicker than anyone else, his win as easy as ever a win can be. Behind him, David and Simon were again barely separable, racing side by side for several laps in every heat, even making gentle contact a handful of times. It was an excellent battle, but nothing could eclipse Mario’s race.

With the top three places pretty much decided by the end of heat 1 – Lee was way out ahead, but it was too close yet to call between Simon and David – the main interest was the three-way fight for fourth between Mario, Alex and Chris, with Alex running in Group 1 and Mario and Chris together in Group 2.

Heat 1. Chris landed the first blow, his time a second quicker than Alex’s and almost three ahead of Mario, but Mario was just beginning to get into his stride.

Heat 2 was Mario’s fastest and saw him vault both Chris and Alex to move up to fourth place, 1.47 seconds ahead of Alex with Chris now down to sixth. The pressure was on.

Heat 3 was a brilliant race. Alex went first, setting the time for Chris and Mario to beat. When their turn came, the pair raced side by side for almost the entire heat, neither able to gain an advantage until a couple of mistakes in the final two laps saw Mario fall a second and a bit behind Chris. Mario stayed fourth, but he’d lost 0.002 to Alex and his lead was now down to 1.46 seconds, with Chris 0.20 further back. With all of them desperate for a good result, the pressure was ramping up, none more so than for Mario following his last place the previous week.

First to crack was Chris, two crashes in heat 4 losing him almost six seconds. Alex got the better of Mario to further narrow the gap, but only by 0.036. Mario’s lead over Alex had now shrunk to 1.43. The pressure went up another notch.

Heat 5, and Alex cracked this time, his driving suddenly ragged and losing him three seconds. Mario’s fourth place was beginning to look more secure, but Chris was still fighting hard and, although seven seconds down overall, hadn’t given up, snapping at Mario’s heals for the entire heat and not giving Mario any room to relax. The pair crossed the line with Mario just 0.278 ahead. If Mario wanted to keep his fourth place, he couldn’t afford any mistakes. More pressure.

So to the final heat. Lee was long gone, David had pulled five seconds clear of Simon who was almost two laps ahead of Mario, so fourth was Mario’s to lose. This, though, is Mario, the guy that never gives up.

Sure enough, Mario didn’t flinch, a faultless drive seeing him pull away from both Alex and Chris to secure his fourth place overall, 7.36 ahead of Alex in fifth. Bravo Mario!

Who better to finish this race report than the man himself, Mario, with his charming post to the club’s WhatsApp group after the race.

“Thank you everyone for your help and patience!!
To Jim for lending me all the parts to assemble the car, to Ed for helping me assemble it and to everyone, especially Lee and Simon, for their tips on how to adjust it.
The big difference in performance between last week and this was that I started oiling the tires almost 3 times a day (I even heated the oil a little, I don’t know if it makes a difference but on another pair of tires I didn’t do it and it was much less soft). And before the race I lowered the front axle a little which made me gain almost 0.3s.
I also can’t forget the support that Simon gave me during the final laps, shouting in surprise “Mario, you’re winning!!” giving me complete confidence and calming me down.”

Super Mario. Properly super!