• Published 8th Oct 2015
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Conquering the Mountain - johnnosk

How did a pony get into the pit crew?

  • ...

Saturday October 11, 2014 Part III

Conquering the Mountain
Saturday October 11, 2014
Part III

If there was one thing that working with Twilight had taught the team at Erebus, it was that strange things happen every day, and having a Pegasus faint in the garages was on its way to becoming the new norm.

Much to the disappointment of the pit crew, Rainbow Dash was only unconscious for a short time, pranks that were still in the planning stage were scrapped and the tools of pranking were hastily put away.

“Enough of the melodrama, Rainbow Dash,” said Twilight, “We’ve got work to do.”

The work that Twilight referred to was the upcoming autograph session that was scheduled for the intermediate period between the previous race and the warm up for the Dunlop Series. Before any of that could happen, Twilight had a responsibility that she took very seriously.

Brad Jones Racing was different from most other supercar outfits. Other teams normally had an overall team sponsor like Red Bull for Triple 8 or Pepsi Max for FPR, but BJR had a separate sponsor for each individual car. This approach meant that fans tended to cheer for individual drivers rather than any particular sponsor.

Being a three car operation meant that BJR was allocated two garages and two pit bays, but it did have to share one of those garages and a pit bay with another team, in this case, the Tekno Autosports Commodore that had been ‘Punching above it weight’ all season and making some of the other teams take notice.

From the results of the previous day's qualifying session, the top three qualifiers were occupants of those very garages and were understandably in high spirits leading up to the shootout in the afternoon. It was into that metaphorical lion's den that Twilight had coaxed a reluctant Fluttershy.

“Oh my,” said Fluttershy as she looked around the crowded garage, “Are you sure that we’re allowed to be here?”

“It’ll be OK, Fluttershy,” replied Twilight, “I just need to find somebody.”

Inside the BJR garages, the cars were going through a series of checks and diagnostics. Even though they had managed to secure positions inside the top ten, there were still stability and control issues that needed to be sorted out in the next practice session before the afternoons shootout.

With the information from each driving pair combined with data from the car taken during the previous sessions and qualifying, race engineers were able to make educated guesses as to what changes were needed to the current setups.

A quick glance inside the garages told Twilight that the person that she sought wasn’t there so Twilight improvised.

“Hey, Skippy,” Twilight called out, “Where’s Fabs?”

If there was one trick that Twilight had learned, it was that there’s always someone in a crew with the nickname ‘Skippy’, it was a near universal Australian constant, and she was using it to her advantage. “He’s with the engineers in the transporter.” came the inevitable reply.

“Ta, mate!”

It took a few seconds before the team ‘Skippy’ looked up from his laptop and asked “Who the bloody hell was that?”

It was a common thought that the Transporters were nothing more than covered trailers that moved each teams cars and equipment from their base to whichever circuit was being used that weekend. In reality, the transporters were a combination of a mobile office, workshop, data centre and break room.

With a full crew at their home base, it typically took an hour to load a transporter for a two car team. Having around 15 race events per season led to each crew having a military like precision when it comes to loading and unloading each transporter.

Once empty of equipment, the trailers were then repurposed into offices for the race engineers, as a quiet space to work on delicate and sophisticated components, and as a preparation room for the drivers where they can get a massage, an ice bath or just a place away from the track to gather their thought before their stint behind the wheel.

Each team parked their transporter behind whichever garage they were allocated. The teams that ran more than two cars used two transporters and BJR was no exception. From the outside, the BJR trailers were a stark white with minimal signage beyond having ‘Brad Jones Racing’ in bright red lettering down each side.

Another thing about the fleet of transporters that were lined up was that they were all classified as ‘B Double’. Unlike the common configuration of a prime mover with a single trailer that was seen in the cities and towns around Australia, the ‘B Double’ was setup to carry the maximum amount of equipment while still being legal to drive inside some built up areas.

Outside of Australia, most countries restricted the overall size and number of trailers that any one truck could haul with the majority limited to two trailers or about 36 meters overall length. The road trains that dominated the roads between various mine sites and cattle stations could be over 50 meters long and consisted of the prime mover and a total of three or four full sized trailers and were the largest road legal vehicles in the country.

Even the mechanical beasts that traveled along the roads of the Australian interior could be dwarfed by the monsters that hauled ore from mine site to port. As the roads that they used were private, weight limitations didn’t apply to the gargantuan contraptions that were nearly triple the length of a standard ‘B Double’. Standing next to the fleet of transporters made twilight feel very small indeed.

Poking her head inside the trailer via the side door, Twilight saw that it was also white with only a pale blue flooring that was coated in a strange non-slip substance providing relief for her eyes. Along one side of the trailer was a workbench and on the other was Fabian Coulthard who was stretching after a briefing session with his race engineer.

Coulthard was an English born New Zealander of Mediterranean heritage, it gave him a distinctive appearance with a piercing set of eyes that were almost yellow. Seeing the object of her search Twilight called out.

“Mr. Coulthard,” she began, “do you have a moment?”

Coulthard was surprised to see Twilight. While he knew that she was working in the pits, he hadn’t as yet a chance to talk to her during the event.

“How can I help you, Princess?”

“Well, I have this friend,” started Twilight, “and I think that it might be a good idea if she met you, please?”

Like any driver, Coulthard was familiar with the various promotional work required to keep the funds coming in, and while his time at the circuit was carefully managed he had a few minutes grace up his sleeve and he could see that it would do no harm to indulge the Equestrian princess.

“Okay, where is your friend?” he asked as he stepped outside the trailer

Twilight began to answer when she was bowled aside in a strangely familiar manner by Fluttershy as she rushed to Coulthard

“Oh, it’s you,” said Fluttershy as she hovered around Coulthard and methodically running her hooves over the drivers head and neck.

Coulthard was no dummy and had been subjected to a similar examination four years ago after serious crash, “I take it you’ve seen my little rollover?” he asked the yellow Pegasus.

Fluttershy blushed at being caught out. She was torn between her instinct to check up on a being that she saw go through a horrific incident and her intellect at knowing that the incident in question was four years old and Coulthard would have been checked over by human medical personnel both at the track and later on in a hospital.

“Um, yes” said Fluttershy, “It’s just that it was so scary and there was metal flying everywhere and-”

Coulthard gently wrapped his arms around Fluttershy, cradling and comforting her for a few seconds before he spoke, “Hey, it’s okay. Everything worked the way it was supposed to, I didn’t even have to open the door to get out afterwards.”

Coulthard tactfully omitted that the drivers side door was one of the first parts of his Commodore to fly off in the rollover.

“Just relax and take a deep breath,” said Coulthard as he idly rubbed Fluttershy’s neck, “It was a bad crash, but there were safeguards in place back then to reduce the chances of me getting hurt. I knew and accepted the risks when I started racing”

Coulthard noticed that Fluttershy had gone from a being a bundle of energy that was giving him an medical once over to a soft and vaguely Pegasus shaped mass in his arms that was cooing softly.

“Are you okay?” he asked

“Oh, I’m fine now that I know you’re okay.” replied Fluttershy with a contented sigh,

Not wanting to make the situation more awkward than it already was, Coulthard gently set Fluttershy back onto solid ground. “What’s next for you ponies?” he asked Twilight, eager to shift the conversation from past incidents to more current events.

“Well, we have to rescue Applejack from Triple Eight,” said Twilight, after a moment of thought, she continued, “Or maybe we have to rescue Triple Eight from Applejack, either way, we have to round up our friends before we start on the next item on the schedule.”

Coulthard nodded sagely, the life of a driver was no longer the carefree days of decades past where legends like James Hunt smoked, drank and ‘socialised’ his way to a Formula 1 championship. Nowadays it was fitness training, practice and studying the next circuit with few days per fortnight to truly call their own.

Some drivers didn’t even have that small luxury as they would fly to another country to compete in an altogether different series with a radically different type of vehicle before returning to Australia for the next Supercars round.

“Well, have fun storming the castle,” joked Coulthard as he watched the pair trot off towards the Triple Eight garage.

“Have they left yet?” came the voice of the race engineer from inside the transporter

Slightly weary, Coulthard climbed the stairs back into the makeshift office, “You know, you’re going to have get over your hippophobia one of these days.” he told the engineer

“Horses are dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle!” was the engineer's reply

Coulthard ignored his engineer’s words, he considered it endearing that someone was still worried about him and his rollover years after it happened and the event itself had become part of Bathurst legend.

Fluttershy was understandably apprehensive about the quick journey to the Triple Eight garage, the average human was almost twice her height and she honestly feared that she would get trampled as the tide of human motion washed over her.

She was pleasantly surprised to find out that humans had a built in sense of their own surroundings and they had a strong idea of where an object was relative to themselves, it was not a perfect sense as Fluttershy noticed that there were a few people bumping into each other while trying to maintain their individual ‘bubble’ of space.

Fluttershy was more relaxed about the crowd by the time she and Twilight had reached the Triple Eight garage where she heard the familiar twang of Applejack’s accent. “Shoot, it ain’t no big deal,” said Applejack, “Ah don’t see what all the hoo-ha is about!”

It was Triple Eight’s race engineer, the Frenchman Ludo Lacroix, who was having a minor fit over what Applejack was doing. The farmpony had innocently passed an errant piece of paper to Lacroix, an act that defied Lacroix’s extensive engineering knowledge and experience.

Like any engineer worth their wage, Lacroix tried to investigate and verify this new discovery by having Applejack pick up and pass to him various objects around the garage while he watched on in fascination.

“The ‘Hoo-ha’, madam, is like the bumble bee,” said Lacroix, his French accent thickening with his excitement, “you should not be able to perform such acts and yet you do.”

“Well of course ah can do it, I wouldn’t be much use on the farm if’in I couldn’t,” said Applejack as she waved her hoof in the air for emphasis, “And I don’t need you to go babbling in fancy about it”

Seeking to defuse the situation before Applejack was carted away to some secret Triple Eight testing facility, Twilight boldly placed herself between the engineer and the farmpony. As diplomatic manoeuvrers go, it was not Twilight’s brightest idea.

Unfortunately for Twilight, by putting herself between Applejack and the curious engineer she had suddenly become the centre of attention. “Your horn, your wings,” began Lacroix as he examined Twilight’s appendages, “how do they work?”

Not used to being on the receiving end of an examination, Twilight picked up the engineer, who suddenly started swearing in his native language, and fixed him with a stern stare before stating, “Magic.”

It took a cough from the team principal, Roland Dane, to draw Twilight’s attention from the magically suspended Lacroix. “Can I have my engineer back, please?” he asked.

There was something about the short and stocky Irishman that ran the Triple Eight outfit, while not the most physically intimidating person in the pits, he carried about him an aura that strongly suggested compliance was the better option.

Not wanting to start a diplomatic incident that had the very real possibility of getting out of control, Twilight released the over eager engineer after making sure that he was outside of arm's reach.

Not knowing exactly what to say to Dane, Twilight gave a modest, yet respectful, bow to the team principal before retreating from the garage with Applejack in tow. “Well, that was interesting,” said Fluttershy in an attempt to break the ice, “Who do we pick up next?”

Fluttershy’s question was quickly answered as the trio made their way up one spot to the factory Ford team’s garage. Like the Triple Eight garage, it was a hive of activity in preparation for the final practice session, yet unlike the situation with Applejack, Rainbow Dash was nowhere to be seen.

The mystery of the missing Pegasus was quickly solved when one of the FPR technicians opened the door and Rainbow Dash’s voice could be clearly heard from inside the cockpit of the previous year's winner, Mark Winterbottom’s, car.

“You ready for me to start this thing?” she asked

After a few seconds of conferment, the technicians gave Rainbow Dash the signal to start the engine. It took a few seconds for Rainbow Dash to go through the startup sequence but when she pushed the starter button, the Ford V8 in the engine bay roared to life.

Twilight had been exposed to engine noise during her induction at Erebus and she noted that the tone of the Ford engine was more ‘throaty’ when compared to the Mercedes with its noticeably higher pitch.

“Lan’ sakes!” exclaimed Applejack over the engine noise, “Does it have to be that loud?”

Twilight turned, eager to explain to Applejack the differences between the race and road models of the various marques that were competing when she saw Fluttershy shivering in dread from the noise.

“Um, is it always that loud?” the Pegasus asked after a few false starts, “I mean, will it sound like that for the whole race?”

Twilight could see the conflict on her friend's face and realised that all the time she had spent in the Erebus garage during her training meant that she had become accustomed to the noise from the garages and the paddock. Sounds that the average Equestrian would never have heard in their lifetime had become entirely familiar to her.

“It is loud,” Twilight admitted, magically amplifying her voice over the engine noise, “but the viewing area is back from the track and has some sound proofing. It shouldn’t be any louder than one of Flim and Flam’s mechanical contraptions.”

The universe is not without its own sense of timing and the FPR technician had signaled Rainbow Dash to turn off the engine just as Twilight had finished her attempt to calm Fluttershy’s frazzled nerves.

“That was awesome!” cried Rainbow Dash as she extracted herself from the driver's seat before she began to babble, “It was like Vroom, and then there was the shaking that I could feel in my everywhere. I want to do it again!”

The look of annoyance on Applejack's face spoke volumes but with all of Rainbow Dash’s bluster, it was Fluttershy timidly trying to hide behind the farmpony that caught her attention. “Oh geez, Fluttershy. Are you okay?” Contrary to the popular image that Rainbow Dash had worked to project, the weather mare cared deeply about her friends feelings and wasted no time rushing to comfort her fellow pegasus.

Most people are used to cartoonish bursts of speed in cartoons, having a protagonist cross a room in the blink of an eye only to stop firmly on their feet was a staple of Warner Brothers cartoons that had been enjoyed for three quarters of a century.

Seeing it happen outside of a cartoon was an experience of its own. From the perspective of the FPR crew, one second Rainbow Dash stepping out of the driving seat and crowing about the thrill of the raw power that she had controlled and the next she was consoling her friend at the opposite end of the garage.

Tim Edwards, the manager of the FPR team, saw Rainbow Dash’s performance and an idea began to form. Every year at the Bathurst 1000 there is a special ‘Speed comparison’ event where the winner of the previous year's event faced off in a handicapped race against a performance version and a standard road going version of the current racing cars.

As the current champion was from the FRP garage, Edwards had planned to have Mark Winterbottom in the supercar with Chaz Mostert in the in the FPV Falcon with Jim Richards to be the third in his classic Falcon from 1964, but with Richards’ car temporarily unavailable while he troubleshot a brake problem on the vintage car, it seemed that he might be able to add some ‘Pony’ power to the demonstration.

Musing about what may come in the next few hours would have to wait for now. Edwards still had two cars to prepare, four drivers to wrangle and his Equestrian guest had trotted off with her friends.

Team Nissan was similar to BJR in that they occupied two separate garages and two separate pit bays that were next door to the Erebus garage. Like many of the teams, Nissan had used a retro livery on one of their cars in honour of the first ever pole position by a Nissan in 1984.

Being a four car team, Nissan chose to segregate their outfit into two separate teams, each with their own major sponsor. For the Kelly brothers, it was Jack Daniels with its traditional black and white livery while the other two were normally a dark yellow colour to reflect their major sponsor, Norton 360.

Being Bathurst, only one car was carrying the yellow vinyls while the other was sporting the previously mentioned brilliant white with the traditional blue and red Nissan striping from three decades past.

Mechanical sounds from inside the garages weren’t unusual as historically teams have worked through the night to prepare, repair and in some cases rebuild cars for Sunday’s race. The sounds of a particular party pony from Ponyville tap dancing and singing about the daughter of someone called ‘Rosie O’Grady’, however, were a first..

“Oh, hi Twilight,” said Pinkie Pie, not breaking her stride,”look, I’m dancing!”

Pinkie Pie was indeed doing a very complicated four hoof shuffle in what was the ‘lounge’ area that had been set up in the back of the Jack Daniel's section of the garage. With the two halves of team Nissan in such close proximity, they were able to pool their resources and keep some of their equipment on the transporter, this allowed the freeing up of enough space to install a few Bean Bags and a locally rented couch.

Twilight could see the immaculately styled hair of Rick Kelly as he pointed what she presumed was a small camera at Pinkie while she danced all the while, the team owner was grinning like he had heard the best joke in the world.

Pinkie could clearly read the expression on her friend's face telling her that there were other fun things to do and that her time with Team Nissan must be tragically cut short. Turning to address the younger Kelly, Pinkie said “Welp, it looks like I’m going now but I’ll bring the party back soon!”

Unsurprisingly, Team Nissan swarmed around Pinkie, giving her farewell hugs and ear scratches as Twilight ushered her friend next door to the Erebus Garage for the last pickup.

Watching the pink pony merrily bounce away, the Kelly brothers shared a look that only brothers could share. “No,” said Todd to his younger brother, “We’re not going to give her a triple espresso.”

An initial impression of the team principal behind Erebus Motorsport was that Betty Klimenko would be a hard drinking, hard smoking, no-nonsense character who had no time for the fineries of tact or etiquette.

The truth was only slightly more complicated as Klimenko did indeed prefer having a cigarette and a beer with the fans over the corporate warfare of the Westfield boardroom where she had to hold her tongue and speak in a more diplomatic manner. What Klimenko also enjoyed was the smaller, prettier things in life.

One of the pretty things was her habit of decorating the headset that she used to listen in and communicate with the drivers and crew. The most common accessory that she added was a sparkly and brightly coloured bow.

With the assistance and direction of Rarity, Klimenko managed to craft a set of pony style ears for her headset. “Betty, darling.” said Rarity as Klimenko tested out her new accessory, “They’re simply exquisite.”

“Just in time, too.” replied Klimenko, “The warm-up for the Dunlop series is due to start in a few minutes.”

“Oh, that sounds exciting, but tell me, Betty, what is the ‘Dunlop Series’?”

“The best explanation is that it is the feeder series for the V8 Supercars. Last year’s winner was Dale Wood.”

The casual revelation that one of the leading contenders for the coveted pole position had only been a part-time driver the year before made Rarity think about how many other drivers in the field are graduates of the development series and how many took a different pathway to the V8 Supercars.

Rarity's musings were cut short as her friends had passed from Team Nissan to Erebus signaling the next stage of the groups morning jaunt. “Terribly sorry, Betty.” said Rarity, “But it appears that my friends are here and I’m needed elsewhere.”

With a polite nod to Klimenko, Rarity followed her fellow Equestrians out the back of the garages where the hustle and bustle of circuit life was continuing on. Even though Rarity knew little about the world of motorsport, she could see the parallels between the preparation for the upcoming warm-up and the backstage of any number of fashion shows that she’d been a part of.

“So, Twilight,” began Rarity, “Do tell, what’s next on your little agenda?”

“A ‘meet and greet’, with the cars from the Dunlop series putting some rubber on the circuit and the next practice being an open session, we’re here to mingle with the crowd, just like at McPhillamy Park.”

Fluttershy was a tad unsure about Twilight’s optimism, her experiences at the top of the mountain were more than a little unsettling. Seeing her friend do the ‘Fluttershy Shuffle’, Twilight was quick to add, “Most of the people in the paddock are families and corporate sponsors, a quick hoofshake and a photo and they’ll move on. The attention will be on the circuit, not on us.”

As with all well laid plans, it was the unexpected that made all that planning moot. In this case it was Neil Crompton, breathless from his short sprint from the media centre where he would be doing the commentary for the upcoming sessions, corralling the ponies for a quick discussion.

“Princess, glad I caught you,” said Crompton, “As you know, between the end of practice six and the start of the Medic one Enduro for the Dunlop Series, there is a bit over an hours gap that we have to fill in the telecast.”

Twilight nodded, unsure of where the conversation was going. Taking Twilight’s uncertainty as his queue, Crompton continued. “Normally during the lunch intermission, there is the speed comparison demonstration, but one of the cars won’t be able to take part in the demonstration.”

Hearing this, Rainbow Dash felt her wings quiver with anticipation, certain that she’ll be asked to fill in for the absent car. “So instead of the speed comparison, the teams have agreed to a ‘Pit Stop Challenge’”

Disappointed, Rainbow Dash’s wings drooped, only to perk up once again as Twilight asked a very important question.

“That sounds interesting, Mr. Crompton,” said Twilight, “but, um, what is this ‘Pit Stop Challenge’?”

Crompton was enjoying his chance to explain something to the Equestrian Princess, a task that was commonly undertaken by the pit reporter, Mark Larkham. “One driver from each manufacturer drives from the control line to their pit bay, their crew swaps out all four tires and the car is released.” He explained “They then drive down pit lane, past the control line and out the pit exit. Each car is timed from control line to control line.”

Twilight nodded, pleased that she understood the technical terms that would have eluded her less than a week ago. There was, however, a question. “Mr. Crompton, am I correct in assuming that you’ll want to film myself and my friends cheering for various marquees?” Asked Twilight.

“Well, your friends would be cheering for their chosen manufacturers,” said Crompton as he indicated to the various symbols attached to the girls lanyards, “But as an Erebus crew member, wouldn’t you be competing?”

Realisation dawned on Twilight as she mentally put together a plan that would show Ponies as a whole off to a wider audience. “Instead of cheering, wouldn’t having my friends acting as car controller make better viewing?”

Crompton made a face, while he agreed that it would make good coverage for Channel 7 and give the station some interesting filler for the archives, there were other concerns. “I’ll raise that idea with the teams,” he said, diplomatically, “they have the final say and there might be some difficulties in making that happen.”

Crompton thought it wiser not to mention that it takes a certain type of person to act as a marker for one and a half tons of precision race machinery as well as the trust that was between the car controller and the driver.

With the unexpected meeting with Crompton, the time that was allocated to milling around the paddock was cut too short to be of any practical use. Taking the initiative, Twilight lead her friends back up to the VIP area for the short wait before the cars of the Dunlop series began their short warm up session.

Being a ‘feeder’ series to the V8 Supercars, it wasn’t uncommon for teams to be the workshop for an up and coming driver. In the past, teams sold their older chassis, engines and transmissions to drivers who were looking to make their mark as race drivers.

More recently with the Car of the Future plans, some of that engineering was steadily making its way down from the main teams making the transition from the Dunlop series to the V8 Supercars easier. It also meant that events like Bathurst allowed some of the co-drivers a chance to put in extra laps by driving in both their support category and the main race.

The session itself was only 15 minutes, just enough time test out a new aerodynamic setting and make sure that any new components such as new brakes or suspension systems are properly bedded in before the race that afternoon.

Due to the local laws and customs, Australians don’t traditionally drink alcoholic drinks before 10 o’clock. This meant that in the VIP area that Twilight and her friends occupied there were several businessmen and women who were ready to have their first beer of the day before getting down to the business of making deals.

As the girls found a nice spot that offered them both a view of the Pit Straight and one of the many television screens that showed the telecast of the circuit, the teams from the Dunlop series made their final preparations before Pit Lane was opened and the session commenced.

With the background chatter and the servers passing around plates of hors d'oeuvres, the opening of Pit Lane and the start of the session was almost missed, almost if not for Pinkie Pie’s habit of constantly looking around.

“Oh, oh! It’s starting!” Pinkie cried out, “Look at them go!”

On the televisions around the room, Twilight watched the cars go through their routine of warming up the tires and brakes so that they could make an accurate test of the car's setup and systems before the short warm up session finished.

“This will be interesting for a lot of the drivers.” said Twilight

“Whatever do you mean, darling?”

“It’s the longest race on the calendar for this series and it has a compulsory pit stop included. Betty was telling me that each Dunlop car has been paired with a Supercars team that will look after the refuelling and car control but the Dunlop team has to provide their own tire changers. Which means I get to sit on my rump up here while everypony at Erebus has to work.”

“So ya get to watch the race instead of being part of it, right sugarcube?”

“Something like that.”

While the girls were talking, the field had made it’s way across and down the mountain and on cue, several cars peeled off down the entrance to Pit Lane to perform a practice pit stop. Unlike the stops that Twilight had practised, the requirements were different for the Dunlop Series.

For safety reasons, the car had to be fuelled first and the regulations specified that 80 litres of the E85 blend had to be taken in over the course of the race. As each car had a 120 litre fuel cell, this would not present much of a problem, it was the delicate balancing act of managing the tire wear and fuel consumption over the 41 lap race, that would prove to be the challenge.

Unlike the drills that Twilight had practised, there were only two people changing tires, one person did the front two and the other took care of the rear tires. The setup was closer to the way that GT racing did their pit stops instead of the V8 Supercars method of doing both the fuel and tires at the same time.

The short nature of the session meant that drivers and teams were more interested in performing final checks before the afternoon's race rather than putting in any fast laps. After a handful of laps the field was called into the pits and the session ended.

In the intermission between sessions, the course car did it’s inspection of the circuit, ensuring that there was no debris or oil left on the track and that the volunteer marshals were ready for the next session.

Driving at the normal speed for an Australian suburban road, it would take a little over six minutes to perform a lap of the circuit, with the professional driver behind the wheel the course marshal was able to inspect areas where cars had lost control during the practice sessions since Thursday and still manage to make it back into Pit Lane before the short intermission was over.

With the Course Car doing it’s inspection, the televisions around the VIP area switched from the ‘Canned’ transmission that was for inside the circuit and the paddock area to the ‘Live’ transmission from Channel 7 with the same six minute long introduction that had prefaced every telecast of the 2014 Bathurst 1000 and it’s supporting categories as well as a brief recap of the Friday’s qualifying session before cutting to a commercial break.

Taking the opportunity presented by the commercial break, Twilight led her friends out onto the balcony that was directly over Pit Lane itself where the field was assembling in preparation for the final practice session before Sunday’s main event.

“That’s where I’ll be tomorrow,” said Twilight as she pointed to the Erebus pit bay

“How will we know which one is you?” asked Pinkie Pie. Twilight had to do a double take at Pinkie’s question but quickly realised that she was being serious

“My helmet has a gold circle on the top.”

“What’s meant to go there?” asked Rainbow Dash, pointing to an empty spot in the lineup of cars

Twilight looked at the empty spot and at the cars on either side of the vacated position. Like at all V8 Supercars events, pit positions were predetermined based on several factors, the number one team was Triple 8 who occupied the prime spot at the end of Pit Lane while Erebus commanded the first pit bay at the entrance past the control line.

When she had first arrived she, like all crew members, was issued a directory that laid out not only where each team had their garage and pit bay, but other useful tidbits of information like how much space behind the garages they could use for promotional displays and the like. To the average crew member, it was a dull piece of legal necessity, for Twilight, it was as valuable as any textbook in the library.

“That would be David Reynolds,” Twilight said with a groan. She had unfortunately crossed paths with the driver of the green Bottle-o sponsored Ford on Friday night and quickly found out that while he was a competitive driver, he seemed to lack the part of his brain that prevented thoughts from becoming speech.

“He crashed during qualifying and his team have been working to fix his car for this session so they can make any adjustments needed before tomorrow’s race.”

On cue, the absent car rolled out into assigned position just as the race control announced that Pit Lane was now open and the final practice session had begun.

Author's Note:

Many thanks to totallynotabrony and Fana Farouche for the proofreading, pre-reading and support.

For the curious, this is what a Road Train looks like: