• Published 8th Oct 2015
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Conquering the Mountain - johnnosk



How did a pony get into the pit crew?

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Saturday October 11, 2014 Part V

Conquering the Mountain
Saturday October 11, 2014
Part V


With the segment completed and the station going to its scheduled news break, the next item on the agenda was lunch. Being quite the lady, Rarity turned to Larkham. “Would you care to join us, Mr. Larkham?”

Throughout his career as both a driver and a television personality, Larkham had learned to recognise opportunities big and small and few opportunities came bigger than being invited to a meal with ‘foreign’ dignitaries, this was an opportunity not to be missed. If nothing else, he’d have a story to tell the grandkids..

The relatively central location of the Tech Centre meant that it was a short walk from there to the catering marquee that served as the main eating establishment for the Queensland based teams of Triple 8, Dick Johnson Racing and Erebus.

With the upcoming race for the Dunlop Series due to start in less than half an hour’s time, lunch would be a rushed affair. Fortunately the marquee was virtually empty with the crews preparing for their part in the race and the drivers fulfilling their sponsorship obligations. At Bathurst, most drivers barely had time for a sandwich between an autograph session and the standard ‘Meet and Greet’.

Occupying a table at the back, the ponies were offered large servings of fresh garden salad while Larkham choose a simple pre-made sandwich from the menu. “Mr Larkham,” began Rarity, “I understand that you’ve had some experience on this particular circuit, could you give us a quick rundown?”

Larkham nodded. Traditionally, when a television performer is off air, they tend to revert back to their ‘regular’ personality. The more happy and over the top hyperactive they seem on air, the more jarring it can be to an observer to see them act at a more normal level.

Throughout Larkham’s career as a driver, owner and as an engineer, one of the small things that gave him a sense of satisfaction was explaining and demonstrating racing concepts to those new to motorsport.

Taking a few quick bites of his lunch before reaching into a pocket of his own Channel 7 firesuit, he withdrew a marker similar to the ones that he used during his segment. Absentmindedly, he drew a line on the bare table top, one long continuous line that Twilight recognised as a rough drawing of the Mount Panorama circuit.

The change in demeanor from the relaxed fellow diner to professor teaching a Master class was subtle but still noticeable to the assembled group. Twilight and, surprisingly, Applejack fell into old habits and sat up straighter with their ears forward.

“You never forget it, you never forget it because there is nothing like it.” said Larkham as he labeled turn one with its proper name of Hell Corner, “This is Mount Panorama, this is Bathurst. If you can’t make the judgement call, 120 meters into a 1000 kilometers to just be a little bit sensible, don’t start the race.”

The ponies leaned in closer, while the ‘Happy go Lucky’ personality that Larkham usually deployed was being downplayed, the serious manner in which he spoke was enthralling and made everypony pay attention.

“It’s a great corner, second gear, the engine is right in it’s sweet spot, but remember, while you have to carry mid corner speed and use that exit kerb, you want to get to 100% throttle early. So don’t get too greedy, Don’t get caught up in the moment, the moment is six hours later.”

Larkham quickly drew Pit Lane from its entrance before Murray's corner with the chicane to the exit just past Hell Corner, pointing to it, he continued, “If I could offer one bit of free advice to every driver out there, it would be, every single time you exit the Pit Lane, grab your belts and tighten them. Every other lap you think of it, you tighten them again. And after a pit stop, whether they’ve changed the brake pads or not, tattoo it under your eyelids - Pump the brake pedal, because if they put the pads in and you forget, you’re a goner.”.

Using his marker as an improvised pointer, Larkham indicated to the circuits second corner. “Griffins Bend, it’s one of the toughest on the circuit. If you don’t get this one right, Psychologically, you’re gone for the rest of the lap. It’s about 260 on the way in and you have to knock off 130 Kilometers per hour, but you’ve got to do that on the bumps on the way in.”

The marker flew as notations and arrows were quickly added to the map. Larkham was beginning to slip from ‘Professor’ mode to ‘Race Boss’ mode as he began to get more animated.

“Let me give you a tip, when you’re challenging for Griffins Bend, either make the commitment or get the hell out of it.”

Pointing to the next major corner, he continued, “The Cutting, I can’t tell you anything simpler than this. There is one racing line up there, make sure you’re on the tram tracks, there is no room to put your front right tire even a foot outside of where it needs to be.”

More notations were made to the map as Larkham continued his narration. The one sided lecture was just about to exit the first of the timing sectors that was used by the commentary team and the viewers alike to compare individual lap times.

The first sector went from the start line on Pit Straight all the way to Reid Park. Sector two was across the top of the mountain from Reid Park to Forrest’s Elbow with sector three taking in the remainder of the circuit including Conrod Straight and the insanely fast entrance to The Chase.

“When we come up to Reid Park, you need to hug the wall. Put the car right over there hard on the wall but be careful, don’t over use the curb on the inside, it’ll feed you into the wall. This is a great part of the circuit where we go from going up the hill and we transform to going down the hill.”

Larkham took a quick mouthful of drink before he continued, narration was thirsty work and he was only a third of the way through the circuit. “So we’re out of Reid Park and now we’re going to head down to that damn grate.” The venom at which Larkham practically spat out the name of that particular landmark spoke to how it had vexed him over the course of his career.

“It’s a horrible, dirty drain that’s up against a wall on the right hand side of the circuit. Now the problem here is you’ve got to commit really, really early and you don’t know because there is nowhere in Australia where your front tire and your car get more downward load then at The Grate, you don’t know way back then if your power steering is going to suffer it or give up and feed you into the fence.”

Changing to a slightly softer tone, Larkham indicated to a point on the map that made Rainbow Dash groan, Skyline where the morning’s humiliation had started. It still chafed her ego to be beaten so comprehensively by Twilight, her only comfort was knowing that in the event of a rematch, she would be victorious.

“We’ve gotten past The Grate, through Sulman to McPhillamy Park.” Larkham was gesturing wildly as he did his best to explain just how the drivers had to rely less on what they could see of the circuit, but on what they could feel through the car. “This is Mount Panorama, this is where you need to be thinking corners ahead of where you are, you can’t see the road way up ahead, but you’re going to average from The Cutting to Skyline, around 200 Kilometers an hour. This ain’t kids play.”

“So you’ve got through the top of the mountain, you've done the tough driver stuff. Now, throw that bit away, you’ve got to be a ballerina.” This got Rainbow Dash’s attention, on her only trip on the downhill side of the circuit, she ended up putting a few hoof prints on the concrete barriers as she struggled to keep control.

Larkham continued, “You’re going to need to dance all the way through the esses until you arrive at The Dipper and when you get to The Dipper, yeah sure it looks really cool with two wheels hanging up in the air.”

Rainbow Dash had to agree, when she tackled The Dipper, she found that due to the way the surface twists and drops, her left side ended up higher than her right. An event that cost her speed, stability and time while Twilight cruised ahead in their little competition.

“You can’t get the throttle on with two wheels in the air! Get the thing back on the deck and the moment your rear tire hits the ground is the same moment your foot hits the firewall. Weave through the concrete walls, but don’t get too clever and try to get an inch away from them. There’s nothing to be gained by doing that.”

When Larkham started his talk, he was like a professor going over a classroom syllabus before getting more excited and slipping into ‘Race Boss’ mode as if he was lecturing a group of young hopefuls who were trying to land a full time driving position.

Now Larkham had calmed down and was back to ‘Professor’ mode as he laid out a series of simple facts.

“Forrest’s Elbow.” he said pointing to the corner that connected to the long Conrod Straight, “This is the second time and the only other time in the lap that you’re not going to feel your front tires. You’re going to come over the little crest there and downhill and at a ton and a half, she won’t want to pull up.”

For Rainbow Dash, it was another embarrassing memory from that morning. When she clipped the inside wall at the corners ‘False Apex’ she had to scramble to recover before she could leave a lasting impression on both the outside wall at the exit to Forrest’s Elbow and the small crowd of racing fans who were setting up one of the prime viewing spots on the circuit.

“So this is where you need to be really measured, slow it up, ‘cause your big drama here is understeer. The car does not want to turn there. For goodness sake, be aware on what’s going on around ya. If there is one gap you can leave open for your competitors, it’s right there.”

Larkham made some notes regarding the section of the diagram that dealt with Conrod Straight. At the beginning of the straight, it was simple, ‘Commit’

“Think about this, you need to either position yourself outright, commit yourself to Conrod Straight and your top speed. Or, you’re going to need to defend, ‘cause that is one of the great spots for attack. And if you’re going to defend, there’s nothing surer, you’re going to compromise your top end speed.

“So if you’re going to defend, you defend. You block him, you pull him up so you get your foot to the gas first. There is nowhere else that you can go where a ton and a half of race car at 300 Kilometers per hour actually feels like a ton and a half of race car at 300 Kilometers per hour, and you’re approaching the fastest corner in Australian motorsport.”

In big bold numbers, Larkham wrote ‘300’ before putting a circle on the figure. Fluttershy suppressed a shudder, viewing the incident with Coulthard was still fresh in her memory.

“The Chase, you want a tough bit of roadway, that’s it. You want to talk about commitment, this is it.” Larkham used his improvised pointer to indicate a point just before the actual entrance to The Chase, “You come down here and you’ll see that there is a meter of tarmac that’s been laid down on the left hand side of the entrance for the driver to use every single millimeter of it.”

Facing his audience, Larkham pointed his marker at each one of them. The look in his eyes was eerily similar to that of a stern father chastising a group of unrulely youngsters.

“If for one lap, you do not go out there and use that, you’re going to compromise your lap time and compromise your result, so you need to use that every lap. And why do you need to do that? You need to get the car around there at 300 Kilometers per hour.

“You do not lift your right foot off the throttle until the car is squared up, and when it is, and only then, you put your foot on the brake and you push it so damn hard that you want to bend the brake pedal!

“Last corner. You’ve got six kilometers of the six point two one three kilometer circuit done. Do not get it wrong here, finish the job right.”

Twilight stole a glance at her friends. Pinkie was listening with such intensity, she managed to fall off her chair at the conclusion of Larkham’s lecture before hastily returning to her seat. If the stories about wing position in pegasi were anything to go by, both Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were in the grey area between ‘Shock’ and ‘Awe’.

Applejack had been so moved by the sheer amount of passion that Larkham emitted that she had taken off her hat and Twilight had found herself with a bad case of cottonmouth from all the heavy breathing that she had gone through over the last ten minutes.

Always the one to be a tad over dramatic, Rarity had taken to fanning herself. “I must say, Mr. Larkham, that was quite the,” Rarity paused, partially for dramatic effect, partly to come up with the right word. “Rundown. Such forcefulness, such passion. Your wife must be quite the lucky mare.”

Larkham wasn’t too sure about how his beloved wife and mother of his children would feel being called ‘a mare’, but he could at least appreciate the sentiment. Taking the moment to polish off the remainder of his lunch, he prepared to himself for an the epic retelling of how his car stopped on Pit Straight with a faulty fuel pump.

Epic retellings and grand adventures were put on hold as Larkham’s fellow pit reporter, Riana Crehan had wandered into the marquee in search of her wayward boss. The live nature of the Bathurst telecast meant that there was always more happening in the background of the telecast and that time was a precious commodity. Having one of the big names from the commentary team disappear for 15 minutes had the potential to cause a major disruption.

“Larko,” said Crehan, “Sorry to put an end to your ‘High Tea’ with the Princess but we need to get finalised for the Dunlop race.”

Larkham nodded. Always the professional, he made an effort to wipe the diagram of the Mount Panorama circuit from the surface of the table only to realise that instead of standard whiteboard markers, he had accidentally used permanent ink.

The catering crew quickly waved off any attempt at an apology before shooing the entire group out of the marque. “What the ho-ha just happened?” asked a stunned Applejack as she looked to her friend for an answer.

“Off hoof, I’d say that lunch is over.” replied Rarity, “And not a moment too soon, if Twilight’s schedule is to be believed.”

Rarity was right, it would take a few minutes for the group to be herded back up to the VIP room above the garages and get settled for the next event and the rest of the afternoon's entertainment.

Before she could join her friends, there was a rather important task that Twilight had to finish, “Rarity, if you could?” she asked with a vague wave of her hoof towards the staircase that led up to the more exclusive areas of the pit complex while indicating the firesuit that she still wore.

“Of course, Twilight, We’ll see you upstairs.”

While the VIP area was almost directly above the garage assigned to Erebus, it was still some distance from the marquee where the group had finished their lunch yet only a short distance to where Twilight’s temporary accommodations were located.

With a quick burst of magic, Twilight was safely inside the motorhome and methodically began stripping off the protective garments before giving them a magical clean and freshen up before teleporting back out to the pre-designated ‘Unicorn Transportation Area’.

Twilight’s arrival went unnoticed by all and sundry. It was one of those strange characteristics of the Australian way of life that could be summed up as ‘If it’s not urgent or life threatening, don’t worry about it’. Although, Twilight did notice that one of the signs attached to the teleportation area had been changed.

“Why do the vampires in me?” she read, growing more confused with each mental rereading, “That makes no sense, I wonder who wrote that.”

A quick trot up the stairs and Twilight was reunited with her friends. Rarity and Fluttershy had taken up some prime couch real estate that had views of both the array of televisions and Pit Straight. Rainbow Dash and Applejack were at the bar with it’s television, deep in discussion over the merits of beer.

A brief flash of pink indicated that Pinkie was on the balcony overlooking Pit Lane and was no doubt making friends throughout the corporate suites. This left Twilight feeling a little out of the mix.

“Beer, ma'am?” asked the steward Daniel as he presented her with a still sealed bottle in its cooler. Like all good stewards, Daniel had learnt the art of anticipating the needs of the guests while still remaining outside of their awareness.

Accepting the beverage, Twilight watched as Daniel seemingly waved his hand over the top of the bottle before removing the cap at the top. Twilight nodded at the way Daniel had skillfully used the bottle opener without being too overt.

Idly,Twilight wondered what a certain traveling magician would think of such sleight of hand, magical dexterity was one thing, manual dexterity was a whole different bale of hay.

“Oh, come on!” Rolling her eyes as she took a rather large drink, Twilight looked to the bar where she could see Rainbow Dash covering her head while Applejack was giggling like a school filly.

Channel 7 had been running some ‘filler’ broadcasts on the closed network before the switch to ‘live’ transmission for the upcoming Dunlop race and one smart cameraman who had his camera pointed in the right direction managed to record Rainbow Dash skimming across the sandtrap at the entrance to The Chase, getting turned around and clearing the circuit in front of a startled Twilight.

All Twilight remembered from that particular incident that morning was Rainbow Dash’s shocked face as she was catapulted over the track. It was an image that Twilight would remember for many years to come.

“Ah,shoot, Rainbow,” said Applejack once she had her giggles under control, “It ain't too bad, maybe ya can start a new trend.”

Rainbow Dash took another, albeit smaller, drink and turned her attention to the television. She had heard the field leave Pit Lane to start their parade lap and while the commentary team gave a rundown on who qualified where for the race, Rainbow Dash took the time to have a better look at the cars on the close up shots.

Unlike the Car of the Future model that the current teams were running with its various standardised components, the Dunlop series were running the mechanical equivalent of a big brothers hoofball gear.

Besides the slight variations in body shapes from the older models of Commodores and Falcons, the older chassis were not standardised. This meant that as long as they remained inside certain dimension and weight tolerances, each team was free to design and manufacture the chassis that they felt was the best fit for their engine.

Because of the sheer number of variations, each chassis was required to have a ‘Larry Bar’ installed. The Larry Bar, named after its designer and driving force to have the device installed on every car, Larry Perkins, was a safety device that created a safe area around the driver in the event of a roll over.

The bar was welded onto the chassis from the bottom left of the windscreen to the top right in front of the driver and as a safety feature, it made headlines in 2005 when a loose wheel at that years Bathurst 1000 impacted the windscreen of Craig Lowndes Falcon.

The laminate in the glass prevented the shrapnel from entering Lowndes’s cabin, the force of the impact caved in a section of the roof and forced Lowndes to pit a lap later for repairs. It was the installation of the Larry Bar that is credited with protecting him from injury.

With the parade lap completed and the grid forming, Twilight decided that this was an experience that she should see for herself and not through the filtered lens of a TV camera. Magically passing her unfinished beer to a helpful steward, Twilight quickly exited the VIP room and into the bright Australian sunshine.

The overwhelming majority of fans only get to experience motorsport from the comfort of their living rooms in front of a large TV. For the chosen few who managed to gain admission to any of the various events around Australia and the world, they felt sorry for those who had to stay at home.

A human’s primary sense is sight and the average person is bombarded with an array of visual information from the moment they crawl out of bed to when they return to the darkness of sleep at the end of the day.

The average Equestrian pony gets most of their information from what they see, even though they utilise their sense of smell and hearing to a higher degree than the average person and Twilight was getting a wealth of information from her nose. Her exposure in Pit Lane meant that she could mentally catalog the different scents of fuels, oils and other assorted liquids that were in use throughout the many garages.

What got her attention was the unique scent of 27 race cars in formation waiting for the marshals to declare the field ready and the lights to turn green. It was a blend of exhaust heavy with unburnt fuel, the warm rubber of the tires, the hot metal of rapidly warmed brakes and rotors in 27 variations of power.

“Whoa,” she said as the realisation struck her. The race she saw while sipping Australian Champagne in a tent at Sandown the previous month was nowhere near this level of closeness.

So caught up in her memories, Twilight nearly missed the marshal at the rear of the grid wave her green flag as the noise of the engines went from idle to a throaty roar as the drivers prepared for the start.

With a change of the lights from red to green, the grid was released with a mighty roar. It wasn’t a clean release as one car stalled in place, forcing a small portion of the grid to go around as the driver managed to restart before he too was under way.

Having experienced the rush of her first ‘Live’ motorsport start and with the field now past Hell Corner, Twilight retired back to the comfort and the air conditioning of the VIP lounge.

As the pack made its way around Hell Corner and up Mountain straight, the telecast showed that several of the drivers could have used Larkhams advice from lunch as the mid field jostled three wide for position into Griffins Bend.

Once past the second corner, the narrowness of the road meant that the cars formed a single file on the racing line but would still continue to push the car ahead to force a mistake. It was its own conundrum, many drivers in the field had a codrivers position for Sunday’s main event and were trying to leverage that into a full time position, driving too recklessly could be interpreted by the team bosses as a driver that will cost too much to be beneficial to the team.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were drivers that were vying for a full time drive but barely had the resources to keep their current team afloat. Those drivers attempted to get the team bosses attention through driving consistency and by not damaging their rides.

As it stood, the field had begun to spread itself out as the cars made their way down Conrod Straight with two New Zealand drivers fighting for position all the way down to Murry’s Corner and down Pit Straight.

The serious nature of the ‘Red Line Fever’ that plagued drivers of any category in motorsport was lessened somewhat by both drivers scheduled to start as driver and codriver in the wildcard ‘Superblack’ entry, an all New Zealand team that was making its debut tomorrow.

With the first lap of the scheduled 41 down, the front runners of the field were beginning to settle into a rhythm. Unlike the other Dunlop Series events, this one required at least an 80 liter transfer of fuel and the changing of all four tires.

With each Dunlop Series car being paired up with a Supercars team, it meant that there was a division of labor between the two organisations. For safety, car control and refueling were to be performed by the Supercars team while the Dunlop team worked on the tires. One person for the front pair and another for the rear pair, but the car could only be refuelled after the fresh tires had been put on.

The stops had more in common with the world of GT racing than Supercars and even before a lap of the Mount Panorama circuit had been completed, a driver by the name of Dan Day, a Dunlop Series debutante, had managed to have one of his tires deflate on him and had limped back to Pit Lane.

Having a two stage pit stop also meant that instead of being able to have a relatively short stop and be out in under a minute, a stop would extend to almost two minutes or more if there was a mechanical issue to deal with.

This would effectively put a driver half a lap down on the rest of the field at a minimum but at the same time it opened up a number of possible pit stop strategies for the teams to consider.

Relaxing in air conditioned comfort and enjoying the refreshing taste from one of the event sponsors signature product, Rainbow Dash was looking at the television screen with a confused expression.

“Is this all they’re going to do?” she asked, “Just go around in circles?”

Twilight understood her friends confusion, while her initial exposure to the world of motorsport was on the technical side before seeing a proper race. To the uninformed and unaware, it looked about as interesting as watching paint dry.

That was until the team in the control centre showed a replay of the incident that caused Day to limp into the pits on the opening lap. The young driver was a little too aggressive in his braking and ended up trading paint with another driver and causing some damage to his own car.

“How’s that for ‘goin’ around in circles’?” said Applejack as her friend did her best not to choke on her drink, “What’s that voice sayin?”

“That’s race control calling for the Safety Car,” said Twilight, “But it can’t be for that incident.”

It took only a few seconds for the replay to show one driver get caught out of position at the exit of Reid Park and hit the concrete wall with the rear quarter of his car and the force of the impact twist his car so that it impacted the side of the car as well.

The skill of the driver was all that prevented it from becoming a multi car incident. “My word!” exclaimed rarity from her comfortable seat, “What is that thing?”

“That would be the fuel cell,” said Twilight before the camera switched to a close up shot of the damage, “And it’s leaking.”

“Oh dear, that doesn’t seem safe.” said Fluttershy. In all the excitement, Twilight hadn’t noticed that the pegasus was reclining next to Rarity. What was strange was just how much attention Fluttershy was paying to the race itself.

“As I understand it, during the blueprinting stage for the Car of the Future, a lot of safety issues were looked at and addressed” said Twilight as she slipped into ‘Lecture Mode’, “One of the issues was moving the fuel cell from its previous position behind the rear axle where it could be ruptured to in front of the axle where it is protected from rear impact by the axle itself.”

“Well, why was the fuel cell placed in such a dumb position in the first place?”

Twilight had to do a quick double take, it wasn’t unheard of for Rainbow Dash to have a sensible and on point question, but it was rare enough to catch most ponies off guard. “Back in the days of the old Touring Car specifications, they were using the same chassis as the road going cars. On that design, the fuel tank is in the back, behind the rear axle. Until recently, it had never been an issue.”

“Sugarcube, what do you mean ‘Until recently’?”

Even though Twilight had no involvement with V8 Supercars in any form until early this year, her own research had uncovered video of two separate incidents in 2011, and while she knew that the drivers involved were alive and well, the pure violence of one incident in particular had caused Twilight to rewrite Equestrian fire safety standards and procedures in a mad attempt to prevent history from revisiting innocent Ponies.

“A few years ago there were two incidents that made V8 Supercars consider a redesign of the cars and the series from the ground up. The end result is the Car of the Future design that is running today.

“They moved the fuel cell forward and redesigned with new materials to better withstand impact and prevent a spill. Electrical systems were redesigned and standardised inside the chassis and the chassis itself became a controlled component.”

As the field could be heard going down Pit Straight under the control of the Safety car. The throaty rumble of engines passing by broke the uncomfortable silence that had put a temporary dampener on the afternoon’s festivities.

“Well, uh, I’ll just go and make sure that Pinkie is keeping out of trouble.” said Twilight as she made a hasty exit back out onto the balcony.

Pinkie being Pinkie managed to find what she considered the best party in the whole pit annex. Whereas a fashionista with Canterlot friends like Rarity would have been at home, or at the very least, comfortable, in the Monet room with its sweet Australian Champagne and light conversation about everything bar motorsport.

Pinkie was relaxing with Chris Wilesmith from Supercheap Auto, the event’s major sponsor, and a trio of winners of the ‘Bathurst Day’ promotion. Unlike the stuffy scene at more formal gatherings, the atmosphere inside this corporate suite was far more relaxed.

It was a simple fact that a person does not become the managing director of a large international company like Supercheap without being able to adapt when the unexpected bounces through the door.

Wilesmith had made the educated guess that the premier party pony form Ponyville would turn up inside the various corporate suites over the afternoon and again tomorrow if nobody objected. As a good host, he wanted to make sure that there would be some Pony friendly food available.

The humble ‘Chiko Roll’ had its own particular history at Bathurst, being that they were made locally in the town for the Australian market. For about the last 50 years, the Chiko Roll had been a staple produce in every Milk Bar, Take Away, and Fish and Chip shop in Australia.

In a typical Australian twist, three sitting members of Parliament have tried to claim the Chiko Roll as having originated in their electorate. The debate ranges from Bendigo, where the inventor was working as a boilermaker when he got the idea, Wagga Wagga where they made their first appearance at the local show and Bathurst where they were being manufactured.

It was a deep fried, savoury and, most importantly, a meatless snack that should not offend the Pony stomach. The primary ingredient in the Chiko Roll was cabbage, making it nothing more sinister than an oversized Spring Roll.

“Crunchy, spicy,” said Pinkie as she bit into her first roll before discretely exhaling through the corner of her mouth, “A little hot, though. I can use these in my parties.”

Pinkie, ever in the search for more additions to her party repertoire, asked about the pies that everybody else was eating. “Well, they are meat pies,” said Wilesmith, “Beef to be accurate.”

Not one to be put off from trying a new type of food, Pinkie deployed her most powerful weapon, the dreaded ‘Puppy Dog Eyes of Doom!’. “You sure I can’t have a little bit of one?” she asked.

Wilesmith was not a man made from stone and as such, he was powerless before the force of Pinkie’s formidable weaponry. Taking a plastic knife and cutting one of the square pies into quarters, he allowed the pieces to rest while the steam escaped.

“Are you sure about this?” Wilesmith asked, “This is meat taken from a cow after it was alive.”

“I know that, silly. How can I be a proper party pony and prepare parties for everybody everywhere if I don’t know what I’m serving them?”

Wilesmith had to admit that Pinkie did have a point and he had explained the origin of the main ingredient so as far as he was concerned, his hands were clean.

With a surprisingly nimble tongue, Pinkie snagged one of the offered quarters and slowly chewed. To the average lay-pony, Pinkie was just your average mare who liked to put on parties. To her friends, she was a conouisior of all foods, regardless if they were sweet, savoury or spicy.

“Hm, slightly salty but overall very bland,” was Pinkie’s initial assessment after a brief chew and swallow, “The pastry is commercial and kind of heavy and there wasn’t as much meat as I was expecting.”

Wilesmith looked at the remaining sections of pie on the plate. While it was true that Supercheap paid for bulk catering pies over the more expensive store bought variety he didn’t think that there was anything wrong with them.

“Pinkie, there you are!” said Twilight from the doorway, “The girls were wondering where you’d wandered off to.”

“Don’t be silly, Twilight. I’ve been here the whole time. Would you like some pie?

Twilight looked at the three remaining pieces on the plate, “No thanks, I had enough meat when Shining Armor joined the guard.”

It was a little known fact that as part of their training, Royal guards were trained to be able to eat meat, mostly fish but insects and their larva were used as a protein substitute when necessary. As with all groups of young males with more bravado than common sense, it quickly devolved into a competition of who could eat the most without being sick. Apparently, Shining Armor had a cast iron stomach, a trait that his sister shared.

“What’s on your mind, Princess,” said Wilesmith as he popped a piece of pie into his mouth, while Supercheap Auto was picking up the majority of the expenses Twilight and her friends accrued during their stay in the VIP room, there were several third parties that had shown an interest in what the Ponies ate and drank to more than cover any expense short of arson.

“Just keeping tabs on everypony while the yellow flags were waving. It seems that there have been more yellow laps than green.”

Pinkie looked at the television, “Don’t look now, Twilight, but that big white car with the flashing lights has just gone down Pit Lane.”

As per the regulations, the field had remained at 80 Km/h while the safety car accelerated away to provide a clear air for the field. The remaining cars would stay in line until the driver in first place decided to accelerate.

It was a waiting game. Paul Dumbrell, the driver in first knew that putting the power of his Holden V8 to its full use at Murray’sCorner would be the sensible move, but it was a move that everybody would be expecting and any advantage that he gained would be minimal.

Instead, he used the car’s slower speed to his advantage and accelerated as he passed the braking zone for the final corner of the circuit. That way he was able to navigate the corner at near normal race speed and leave the other drivers behind.

His idea almost worked and while the second place driver had the reflexes to keep up with the sudden acceleration, the rest of the field were caught flat footed and a gap of several seconds had opened up and was growing at a steady pace.

"Will you be okay here, Pinkie?" asked Twilight as she prepared to leave Pinkie to her own devices

"Oh I'll be super duper with everybody!"

One of the Bathurst day prize winners, a typically large Samoan came over and gave Pinkie a hug. "Don't you worry 'bout a thing," he said, "The pink pony is fine with us."

“Well as long as she doesn’t get eaten,” replied Twilight, “I’ll pop back in later.”

With excuses made, Twilight returned to her friends in the VIP room to continue watching the race unfold. It might have only been the seventh lap but Twilight had a feeling that the safety car would be making a few more appearances.

Judging from the relaxed state of her friends, it was clear that everypony just rolled with Twilight’s sudden departure and return. The racing on the television clearly had their attention, at least for now.

While the two front runners were increasing their lead, it was the dueling mid-pack that was the centre of attention for the commentary team. Not only had Twilight had witnessed a pass on the inside of Forrest’s Elbow, a bold move that required the cooperation of both drivers involved, and possibly the strangest drag race she’d ever seen.

Of the three drivers involved, two had taken part in the outrageous pass seconds before at Forrest's Elbow and neither driver wanted to relinquish the position. The third driver was fortunate enough to be able to tuck in behind the car on the left hand side of the circuit and was using the tow for everything it had.

The design of the circuit meant that the entrance to The Chase favoured the cars on the left side of the track and the driver who initially lost one place to a bold pass, ended up losing a second to poor track position as the third car few by at the kink in The Chase.

“Yee Ha!” Applejack hollered as she gave Rainbow Dash a shove, “Y’all can’t tell me that’s boring?”

Not wanting anything to show through her layer of ‘Coolness’ Rainbow Dash replied, “I admit, that was kinda cool.” After taking a mouthful of her drink, she turned to Twilight, “Hey, Twilight, what’s a Black Flag mean?”

“It means a car is being penalised” replied Twilight, “Where did you see that?”

In lieu of any reply, Rainbow Dash pointed to the television where the announcement had just been made. It seemed that Day, the driver of the #25 car was being punished with a Drive Through Penalty for his infraction on the first lap.

It didn’t take long for the next incident to get the yellow flags waving again. The challenger for the Dunlop Series Championship ended up hitting the wall at McPhillamy Park in a near identical manner to what Reynolds did yesterday.

The incident caused several teams to bring their cars into the Pit Lane for the compulsory pit stop. While they would not be able to meet the entire fuel requirements so early in the race, it did give them an opportunity to put on fresh tires.

Twilight knew from conversations with members of the Erebus pit crew that under normal racing conditions, you could comfortably drive for 22 to 23 laps of the Mount Panorama circuit before tire degradation started to affect lap times.

It seemed that teams were running under the assumption that there would be several more periods under the yellow flags where drivers would be able to slow down and preserve the limited grip on the tires. The obvious downside was that slow driving tended to heat up engines and cool down tires which meant that the cycle of yellow flags would repeat itself until the end of the race.

The other interesting thing to note was with the elimination of the main challenger to the Dunlop Series championship, it was highly possible that Dumbrell could be declared the series winner in as little as 30 laps.

Each round win was worth 300 points and the current leader was only four points ahead of his rival at the start of the race. If Dumbrell could stay in the lead, an idea that was a distinct possibility, he would end up 304 points ahead with one race left. It would be mathematically impossible to beat him, but it all hinged on him winning this race.

At the tail end of lap 11, the safety car had pulled away and the field was, once again, poised to react to whatever strategy Dumbrell was considering. Unlike the last safety car period where Dumbrell waited until the last moment before accelerating away from the field, this time Dumbrell accelerated as soon as he was allowed.

The safety car had compressed the field and the tires had cooled down so Dumbrell was unable to capitalise on the restart.

“Aww, yeah.” For all her feigned disinterest, Rainbow Dash was keeping a close eye on the race as it unfolded. She knew that, unlike at the start of the race where all the cars were relatively even, some cars had the advantage of coming in during the safety car for fresh tires and a top up on fuel while others still had to come in for a driver change in addition to their compulsory stop.

“Don’t count your apples until they’re in the basket,” cautioned Applejack,

Seeing two of her friends banter at the bar, Rarity turned to Fluttershy and said, “Well, it seems that they’re enjoying themselves.”

Fluttershy jumped slightly at Rarity’s voice. While the race was being telecast on several of the television screens inside the VIP room, a few screens were dedicated to displaying the timing information from the cars.

With the two sets of information at her hooftips, Fluttershy was caught up in her own form of race analysis as she watched some of the cars at the tail end of the field start to overtake their rivals and gain positions.

“Fluttershy, darling. What has gotten you all wound up?” said Rarity as she did her best to smooth down a few ruffled feathers

“Oh, I was just, um, watching the numbers.” Fluttershy replied, “They’re showing some cars going faster than others”

Rarity had to stop herself from rolling her eyes, while she cared deeply about all her friends, there were times when dealing with Pinkie Pie was an easier task than talking to a distracted Fluttershy. “Yes dear, that’s the point of the race.”

Fluttershy pointed to a position on the timing board, “But these cars are at the bottom of the list.”

Rarity looked in the indicated direction. As Fluttershy had explained, there were indeed a small group of cars that were progressing through the field at a remarkable speed. While the names were unfamiliar to Rarity, she did know the car numbers as the ones that had come into Pit Lane during the last safety car period.

“Oh, those are the cars with the fresh tires, I suspect that they’ll be the lead pack soon.”

The race continued on uneventfully for the next five laps until one of the cars that Fluttershy had indicated was having the perspex window on the left hand side of the car come loose enough to be visible on the television.

Cam Walters had surged through the field and had secured 12th place since the previous yellow flag and now being told by Race Control to have the window ‘seen’ to on the next lap, effectively destroying the gains that he’d made since the safety car.

As luck would have it, Walters didn’t need to pit to have his errant window seen to, physics did the job for him as it was ripped from its frame part way down Conrod Straight. The sudden change in aerodynamics did cause him to slow down to keep control of his car and lose some track position but he no longer had the threat of the Mechanical Black Flag forcing him into Pit Lane.

The race on the circuit wasn’t the only action to be had. With everypony’s attention focused on either the timing screens or the televisions, a steward called Twilight over to speak on the wall mounted phone.

“Um, hello?” said Twilight, unfamiliar with both the correct protocol and manner to use the strange device.

“Luff and Tander are out,” said Klimenko on the other end of the line, “Everybody’s moved up a spot and Triple 8 are chucking a big hissy fit at the race stewards.”

Twilight was in mixed minds about this turn of events. With one car officially removed from the race it meant that the majority of the field benefited from the advance in grid position. The drawback was that the second of the factory Holden cars was elevated into tenth position after missing out on qualifying for the afternoons shootout.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Sit back, relax and have a beer. We’re too far down the order to take advantage of the change but your friends might hear some of Dane’s fireworks.”

The resigned sigh in Klimenko’s voice suggested that the short Irishman in charge of Triple 8 was as adept in raising a ruckus as he was as managing a team. Left with little to do with the situation, Twilight took her team boss’s advice by passing the phone back to the steward and asking for a fresh drink.

Off track problems gave way to on track drama as the race hit lap 20 and teams started to bring their cars in for the compulsory stop. This was a critical moment in the race, the cars that had pitted earlier during the safety car for tires only needed a small amount of fuel to reach their 80 liter minimum.

Other cars that came into the pit lane needed fresh tires and a full load of fuel, that would cost the teams both time and track position but had the payoff of having tires that were 10 laps fresher than a portion of their competitors, an advantage that may be crucial in the final laps of the race.

Due to the safety regulations that governed the pit stops for the Dunlop series, as the backmarkers made their way out of Pit Lane, the 2nd place driver, Chris Pither, was making his way into Pit Lane for his compulsory stop.

Pither and the race leader Dumbrell were on their own with an eight second lead over the rest of the field. With the majority of cars still to make the required stop, Pither was betting that he’ll be able to make up the lost track position in a lap or two.

Twilight watched as drivers began to flow into Pit Lane. The television showed the pair of tire changers rush out of the garage as soon as Pither came to a stop. They were well drilled and it showed in how smoothly they swapped the passenger side tires before hustling around to change the ones on the drivers side. It was at this point that the tire changer that was working on the rear tire encountered a problem, Twilight took careful note on how the first crewman hesitated and was ready to assist his partner if he was unable to resolve the issue on his own.

Even through the sound deadening glass and concrete that made up the garages and the corporate annex, Twilight could hear the cars in Pit Lane and she even imagined that she could feel the vibrations from the engines through her hooves.

With cars entering and leaving Pit Lane along with driver swaps for the few cars that had a co-driver and the race ticking over the halfway point, the only thing that was clear was that Twilight had no idea who was where on Mount Panorama.

What the numbers on the timing screen did show was that Dumbrell was still in the lead and that he had not taken his pit stop. Even with the small amount of fuel saving safety car laps, he would still need to pit in the next few laps or risk running out of fuel.

It was on lap 23 that Dumbrell made the slow crawl down Pit Lane to the bay operated by Triple 8 racing for their sponsor Red Bull. While there was still a strong chance that he would be able to clinch the Dunlop Series championship, this pit stop was of critical importance.

Rolling firmly into the pit box, the tire changers from Eggleston Motorsport got to work while a Triple 8 crew member removed a device from the nose of Dumbrell’s car to better allow airflow into the radiator and brake ducts before removing one of the windscreen tear-offs.

While Dumbrell was taking his compulsory pit stop, Walters was on Pit Straight and it was now a race between the refueller from Triple 8 to hit the 80 liter minimum before Dumbrell was released and how much distance and traffic Walters could put between the pair as he unofficially took the lead for the final 17 laps.

Twilight looked at the timing board. Officially Walters was in 8th place and over 45 seconds behind the lead, but the car that was leading hadn’t made the compulsory stop while the other cars in front of Walters had only pitted once and would still need a top up of fuel if they had any plans on finishing.

All this didn’t seem to matter to Rainbow Dash as she crowed to Applejack. “Looks like a Ford’s going to win this one!” she said

“Y’all remember what Ah said about apples and baskets?” asked Applejack, “There’s still a good way to go and your badge boy ain’t in the lead yet.”

What the duo didn’t realise was that they were getting some odd stares from Rarity, Fluttershy and Twilight. “Dears, I do believe that all this competition is affecting our dear friends.”

“Oh, pegasi are naturally competitive and will rally around most forms of sport. So long as it doesn’t come to blows, it’s really quite harmless.”

Rarity and Twilight were surprised at Fluttershy’s statement. While Twilight was prone to the occasional bit of academic explaining, hearing it come from Fluttershy was was something that neither pony knew how to properly handle.

“I know things,” said Fluttershy as she wilted slightly under her friends gazes

“It's not that dear,” said Rarity, “it's just unexpected to hear something like that to come from anypony who isn't Twilight.”

Ignoring Rarity’s backhanded compliment, Twilight leaned in close to whisper into Fluttershy’s ear. “I expect to see you in the library when all this is over.”

Dumbfounded, Fluttershy could only nod.

Although fascinating as the glimpse into pre-Equestrian history was, there was still a car race going on outside the VIP room and it was beginning to enter its final stages. Cars from smaller teams were making their stops. The majority were at the limit of their fuel range and would have long stops as they took on a heavy fuel load.

Ahead, Walters had charged into third through a combination of clean driving and the cars in front coming in for their compulsory stop. The car that was currently second, driven by Paul Morris, was due to make his stop for fuel but made the decision on lap 26 to stay out for another lap.

The safety cars early in the race had made it possible for the cars to drive longer on their current fuel loads but tire wear was still an issue and Morris was rapidly approaching the point where he would have to pit for fresh rubber or slow down so as not to push the tires beyond the limits of their decreasing grip levels.

The ongoing battle between the Ford and Holden marques was happening almost 40 seconds behind Morris when Morris succumbed to the inevitable and pulled into Pit Lane for much needed fuel and tires.

This change of lead elevated the race positions of the lead pack by one and handed the lead over to the New Zealand driver, Ant Pedersen. While Pedersen had not completed his compulsory stop for fuel and tires, the truth was that he was not in the same class of driver as Walters and Dumbrell and would not be able to hold his lead over the two hard charging drivers once he chose to pit.

With this being the longest single drive for the majority of the Dunlop Series drivers, it was not surprising that driver error had called out the safety car once again. At the exit of Forrest’s Elbow, Geoff Emery had misjudged the turn and ran wide. Unable to complete the turn, he had hit the concrete barrier and bounced back across Conrod Straight and currently rested on the grass just past Forrest’s Elbow.

Due to Pedersen’s position as Race Control called the Safety Car, he was able to pit under Yellow flags and rejoin the compressed field at the end of the train of cars. This also had the effect of erasing the 40 second gap between first and second while promoting Walters to the lead with Dumbrell in the perfect position to capitalise with his fresher tires.

With eleven laps to go, Rainbow Dash was riding an emotional roller coaster that rivaled the most trashy soap opera. If the stories about a pegasus wings were even partially true, then the Weather Mare’s seemingly calm face was betrayed by her wings waving about like semaphores.

“Ya’ll still think your badge is gonna come in first?” Asked Applejack as she eyed her friend

“Of course he is,” replied Rainbow Dash with a snort, “It’ll take two or three laps to recover that busted car, tires will need to be heated back up to racing temperatures. By the time all that’s been done, he’ll only need to hold that Holden guy off for five or so laps for the win. Easy.”

“Ya feeling alright there, Rainbow Dash. Ya didn’t hit your head or somethin’?”

“Just watch Ford take the win.”

Twilight did her best to ignore the bravado coming from Rainbow Dash as the safety car pulled away from its position at the head of the train of cars at The Chase in preparation for a quick 10 lap sprint.

Idle boasting aside, Rainbow Dash was correct in that it would take some time for the tires to warm up to race temperatures and that Walters would be doing his best to make his Falcon as wide as possible to make Dumbrell expend tires and fuel whenever an overtaking opportunity was even hinted at.

At the restart, Walters appeared to be using a slower, lapped car to slow down his adversary but the skill difference between Dumbrell and the slower driver was too great and Dumbrell had safely cleared the traffic by the time he had gotten to Hell’s Corner.

The question that the commentators raised wasn’t the upcoming battle between Walters and Dumbrell, but if the current third place driver, Chris Pither, would play a part in the action at the front of the field.

While under the safety car, the field had compressed, but it was out of order. Cars on the lead lap were stuck behind slower cars that were a lap, or more, down and were desperate to get by at the restart.

Due to the limited number of legitimate passing areas at Mount Panorama, the slower cars were moving off line to allow their faster brethren by where it was possible. The reality was that across the top of Mount Panorama, space was limited and often, there wasn’t anywhere for the slower cars to move to.

With the help of the volunteer flag marshals signalling the slower cars by waving the blue flag, passes were made in spots where only the bravest, or most foolish, drivers would pass. It was only through the cooperation and understanding between drivers that the passes were executed in an uneventful, if a little reckless, manner.

Stretching out their lead, the trio of Walters, Dumbrell and Pither had navigated Forrest’s Elbow and were accelerating down Conrod Straight. Dumbrell doing everything in his power to get a tow from Walters and Walters doing everything he could to prevent Dumbrell from gaining any advantage as he moved from one side of the straight to the other.

The amount of time that the field had spent under the safety car was having another effect on the race. While the Medic One Enduro was scheduled to go for 41 laps of the circuit, there were also other support races scheduled for that afternoon, including the shootout. According to the information on the television, the race would be stopped in just over 13 minutes to keep everything else on schedule.

The little factoid of a time certain finish was almost immaterial as Walters made the slightest of mistakes exiting Murry’s Corner. As he was forced wide, Dumbrell capitalised on the error and executed a textbook passing maneuver on Pit Straight right as they passed in view of the VIP box.

Fluttershy looked like she wanted to faint but her body wasn’t letting her as the television showed the view from inside Dumbrell’s car as he made the pass. The question was ‘Could Walters have the pace to take the lead back, or will he be relegated to third if Pither decides to attack?’

“Fluttershy, are you alright, dear?” asked Rarity. After seeing Dumbrell take back first place, Fluttershy looked like she wanted to say something, but was unable to make any sound.

“That was beautiful,” she said before shutting her eyes and mentally slapping herself, “It was so clean, so well executed. He was brilliant!”

There was no doubt in Rarity’s mind that the ‘he’ Fluttershy was referring to was Dumbrell. Most residents of Ponyville naturally assumed that the timid pegasus was afraid of her own shadow, and to be truthful, that depended on the season.

Rarity knew that there were few situations that set off her friends ‘internal trigger’ but throughout the day they had been exposed to various levels of motorsporting and the drivers were progressively becoming more skillful. If the current trend were to continue, Rarity wasn’t sure if her friend would be able to handle tomorrow’s main event.

Fortunately for Fluttershy’s heart rate, the person who was directing the cameras had switched focus from the leading trio to the cars that made up the remainder of the first 10 positions as they jockeyed back and forth while settling into a new racing rhythm.

Twilight did some quick mental calculations, “Based on the current lap times and the remaining time before the race is forced to end,” she began, “the lead pack should be able to squeeze in six or seven more laps before the checkered flag.”

Rarity was no slouch in the math department and noticed a discrepancy in Twilights calculations. “Twilight, dear. Wouldn’t they be able to only do six laps before the time runs out?” she asked

As part of Twilight’s education at Erebus was memorising the current driving regulations. Specifically the regulations surrounding time sensitive events like the current race. “Plus one lap,” said Twilight, “They race to the end of the time, plus an extra lap.”

For all her easy going nature, Applejack was having a measure of satisfaction at watching Rainbow Dash’s face go from smug certainty at a Ford victory to the very real concern that her chosen marque would drop another spot to third by the time the race finished.

“Don’t worry, Rainbow Dash,” said Applejack, “That Dumbrell fella is only a whole second ahead of your boy, Walters. I’m sure that anything can happen in the next four laps.”

“You really mean that?” Rainbow Dash asked

It was with a sly smile that Applejack replied, “Nope.”

The numbers were not in Rainbow Dash’s favour. While Applejack was right that Dumbrell had pulled out to just over a whole second away from Walters, it was Pither in third place that had caught up half a second and was doing his best to menace Walters into making a mistake.

With the lead trio so far ahead of the rest of the field, the focus shifted to the minor placings. Several drivers that were competing in tomorrow’s event were busy cementing their positions by getting as much track experience as they could.

What was interesting was that the two New Zealand drivers that had traded paint on the opening lap of the race seemed to have no intentions of stopping as the fierce duel between Ant Pedersen and Andre Heimgartner continued on with neither driver willing to concede.

“I do believe that there is more going on between those two than meets the eye.” said Rarity

“They’re both in the same car tomorrow,” replied Twilight, “Probably told that whoever places highest gets to start the race. It’s a pretty big prize.”

Six and a half minutes left on the clock and it looked like there was nothing that would prevent Dumbrell from taking the victory and the Dunlop Series win when he had a flutter at the chase that gave Rainbow Dash a glimmer of hope.

Even though Dumbrell was on fresher tires, his brakes were becoming well worn and losing their effectiveness. The combination of worn brakes and Dumbrell missing a gear at the kink of The Chase meant that he ran wide and had to correct before he ended up bogged in the sand trap.

This allowed Walters to temporarily close the gap but he was hampered by his older tires and Dumbrell was already beginning to open up the gap between first and second as he crossed the finish line to start his next lap.

Rainbow Dash had visibly perked up when she saw Dumbrell’s error. From what she understood from the commentary and what she had learned that morning at McPhillamy Park, what starts out as a tricky gearbox can quickly turn into a broken gearbox and a stranded car.

As it stood, Walters and Pither were close enough in skill levels that the latter was unable to close the gap as Dumbrell smoothly finished the 36th lap with a bit over four minutes remaining before the checkered flag.

To keep the television viewers interested, the commentary team was focusing on the remainder of the field, talking up the various newcomers to the category and generally finding ways to fill in time.

Sometime during the race, Twilight noticed that Rarity had acquired herself both a glass of beer as well as a small selection of assorted nuts and dried fruit and was looking rather relaxed on the couch. All that was missing was the adoring stallions cooling her off with large fans.

“Don’t get too comfortable, Rarity,” said Twilight, “The race is almost over.”

“Oh, posh!” replied Rarity as she magically flicked an almond at her friend, “I was rather enjoying myself too.”

“Don’t worry, Rarity,” said Fluttershy, “Tomorrow’s a big day and you’ll be back here for the shootout, right?”

The fashionista put on a brave face for her friend, “I’ll most certainly try to get back here for the shootout, but I can’t make any guarantees.”

The timer had officially run out before Dumbrell had crossed the line on the 38th lap. As the final lap was started, Rainbow Dash gave out a sound that was somewhere between a moan and a wail.

While the television cameras and commentary stayed on Dumbrell as he completed his final circuit of Mount Panorama, his lead over Walters was too great and in a flawless lap he had crossed the line to win both the shortened Medic One Enduro and the Dunlop Series.

Applejack consoled Rainbow Dash over the victory that the weather mare was taking a little too hard. Quietly, Rarity and Twilight left the VIP room to head back to the Erebus garage. Rarity had about two and a half hours to work on the shirts before the start of the shootout.

“Will you be able to get the shirts done before the race tomorrow?” asked Twilight

Rarity considered her answer as she weighed up the task ahead of her, “I should be able to make the alterations on the shirts for Applejack, Pinkie and myself. These shirts are big enough, I’ll more than likely be taking fabric in than doing any large scale alterations.”

“What about Rainbow and Fluttershy?”

“I don’t fancy that they’ll want their wings covered so those will take more time but I’ll have them ready for the race tomorrow, even if I have to work through the night.”

Twilight considered Rarity’s claim. It wouldn’t be the first time that an all nighter had been pulled at Mount Panorama, but it would have to rank up there as one of the strangest. A quick glance at the clock showed that it was only a quarter to three and there was still a lot to be done.

Author's Note:

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

Still to come: Rarity makes shirts, The Top Ten Shootout for pole position and where's everybody sleeping?

Mark Larkham describes the Mount Panorama circuit as only an old racer can.