Friday- Kingston, JamaicaAlright everyone, let’s get started, shall we?
The crisp English host’s voice said over the speaker to the assembled gathering of press and VIPs. Camera flashes continued to quietly flutter in the background as casual conversations died down while the invited guests and organizers took their seats. The staff of the Aurora
hotel very quietly continued to serve as the press conference was beginning smoothly balancing glimmering silver trays of hors d’oeuvres on fingertips and matching pots of the best coffee Joel had ever had in his entire life. The hotel was showing off, putting its reputation as the finest in Jamaica on display for their wealthy foreign visitors. Watching from the small group of drivers selected for the interview, Joel eyed the coffee being poured for what looked like a very pleased representative from the FIA. He’d consumed roughly eight cups and really had hankering for a ninth, but the team’s press manager, an Italian in her mid-fifties named Stefania, had very firmly cut him off to ensure his smile was as bright as possible for the broadcast that would be relayed and repeated all over the world. Sitting next to Sio in the front row, she gave Joel a very motherly shake of her finger to which he smirked slyly and gave Sio a wink as the conference started.Ok everyone, it’s the 2019 FIA World Rally Series presented by…
The young man went on to read a brief list of official sponsors ranging from high-end watchmakers to technology companies and tire manufacturers.
The drivers seated in two rows of three represented various countries from across the world, each wearing their teams respective colors and a small microphone that wrapped around the ear. Joel was no exception, wearing a dark blue blue polo
with a subtle silver camo pattern along the torso that the team was debuting on the car
along with its standard red and characteristic orange letter R
prominent among the other sponsors listed along the sleeves. Stefania allowed him to wear one of his custom made apex
hats that sported the Rebellion logo on one side and his chosen number, #12, on the other. This is the first round of the 2019 season, Rally Jamaica…
The man continued. First round, first question, Joel, Rebellion Racing, VW Group.
He’d never had any coaching or ever spent a lot of time with the media, nor was he very outgoing at all, but Joel knew he had an instinctual, natural presence in front of a camera. He looked back at the man, keeping a slight grin and ignoring the lense that was broadcasting his image all over the world as the question was read aloud:Joel, how does it feel to be the first American to compete on the world rally stage in more than two decades? Your background is in GT racing, what drew you to rally?
“I wouldn’t say I was drawn
to it,” Joel answered with a light shrug relaxing his posture some. “More like it found me, ya know? After the grand prix, I had a lot of options, this just seemed like it would be the most fun really, I never thought it would go this far.” He continued. “As far as being the first American…” He looked away slightly thinking about his next words. “I guess I try not to think about that too much.” It was a total lie, though he said it naturally without the slightest hint of conflict. His eyes drifted by Sio momentarily as they returned to the host, knowing she knew he was lying. He wanted to win
and he wanted to be the first person to win a WRS event and the Sol City Grand Prix. He wasn’t a patriotic type, but as a driver on the world stage the sentiment was always present and he remembered how people cheered when he carried the flag on his victory lap around the Sol City street cicuit. It was a feeling like nothing else. “I just try to drive as fast as I can... I think being able to represent your country is a point of pride for any driver.”Any plans to continue GT racing in the near future?
Joel shrugged again, “I try to keep my options open I guess,” He replied still keeping a natural smile and also displaying some prior contemplation. He knew better than to talk of the specifics about his contract on a live broadcast. Sio had combed through it like a lawyer and there were more than a few clauses that forbade him from being involved with competitive manufacturers, even if they were in other forms of racing. “Right now I’m just focused on rally... it was only a few months ago I was still fixing cars in my shop, so whatever I manage to get into at this point is just bonus.” What have you learned most about rally so far?
At this point he was hoping the host would move on to someone else, but everyone
had wanted to talk to him since they landed. His presence as an American in the WRS was something of a novelty in itself and everyone had seen the grand battle that resulted in his win at Sol City. Having an American driver was good for the WRS brand and the FIA giving them a line into an untapped market in the United States. Joel was aware of their business goals and decided he would have some fun with them as well: “Well, I had always heard that Finns drink,” He said nodding towards one of his fellow drivers from Finland who was holding his head up with one hand. The crowd, of whom many were in attendance, recalled the previous night’s “festivities” as all the teams and drivers officially arrived in Kingston. Laughter began to fill the room. “I mean, Aimo did not carry his flag well.” He said with a chuckle.
The young Finn, also in his rookie season with the WRS driving for Citroen glanced back at Joel with a sheepish grin. The party, relatively unplanned, had gotten out of hand rather quickly, leaving a path of destruction across the finely manicured gardens of the Aurora
. None of them had ever seen a man put away alcohol in the way of their newest American competitor. @Almalthia