Dubai (January 14 2017)
The race started at 2:00PM and I was slated to jump in the car 4th. This meant my first stint would be in the dark, with 100 other cars on track, some faster and some slower as there are multiple classes competing. I’d taken part in the night practice the evening prior so had an idea what to expect, but racing in the dark brings a much greater risk of contact. Fortunately I kept it clean, and maintained the lead we’d established in the SP2 class. At the 2 hour maximum drive time I pitted for the driver change and started preparing for my next time in.
With the starting driver back in, it wasn’t long before our first real obstacle presented. A failed drive shaft required a pit stop for replacement while leading at the 6 hour mark. The crew really hustled and had it done and back on track in 22 minutes. We now had work to do but the deficit wasn’t insurmountable. The trouble was, just 2 hours later we experienced a second drive shaft failure. Back in the pits the crew replaced it and made some other changes to help it last. I could see the disappointment in the faces of the crew, but the thing is with 24 hour races is anything can happen and you can’t give up.
Back in the car for my second stint, I was hoping for the light of day, but at 2:00AM the only light to be found was the swarming headlights of the surrounding cars. I felt good though, my strength training was really paying off and I put down another solid 2 hour drive without issue. Though still laps down on the leader, we were gaining ground slowly but surely.
Back in the car for my final stint at 10:00AM, the sun had finally crested the horizon. Despite only an hour of sleep, I was amazed at how I was able to maintain focus. Feeling strong I continued through my stint, lap by lap, one step at a time. I was continuing to real in the leader and we were moving up the score board. I pitted at the 2 hour mark for the final driver change and handed the car off to my co-driver to bring it home. Despite the mid race setbacks we clawed our way back to second place, a truly remarkable finish.
Reflecting on the event, it truly was an experience I’ll remember dearly. Not just the racing itself, but the relationships formed that I know will last a life time and overcoming any self-doubt. Also validating my dedication to my fitness and training has really payed off. It felt great to be a part of it and I’m already thinking about having another go next year.
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