Practice sessions are one thing, but when the schedule shows you are about go into qualifying, the nerves hit you. I'd been all chirpy and excited till around an hour until qualifying. The moment I saw the clock inching closer towards 5pm (which was when the qualifying session was set to start) I could feel my heart beat faster. Suddenly there were butterflies in my stomach. As I started pulling on my leathers, I kept telling myself to just go out there and have fun.
Before I knew it, I was sitting on my number 18 motorcycle in the pits, sweat pouring down my face. I did not want to come last. Even if it was my first ever qualifying session, I didn't think my ego could take coming in last. Suddenly, it was time and the marshals waved us out onto the track.
My primary concern was traffic. I still hadn't found the aggression to overtake. Forget aggression. I just didn't know how to. I could see the rest of the guys on track outbraking each other and gaining places. But every time I tried it, I panicked and lost my line. So my plan was to get a relatively free track by hanging back and letting everyone else go ahead. That way I might be able to get a few clean laps in and repeat that 2:53.889 I had clocked in FP2.
All my plans were in vain. Within two laps of the qualifying session, I had caught up with the tail end of the pack. I did manage to overtake a few riders, but like everybody says, chasing riders always makes you slower. The rest of the session went by with riders overtaking me and me overtaking a few of them. And then it was time to come back in. The chequered flags were out.
It wasn't the best of news that awaited me in the pits. Turns out I was way slower than I was in FP2. I could only clock 2:56.457. This meant a 14th place start in the race tomorrow. Damn!