But then, as the number of racers diminished, things started to get desperate.
LAP: 35 OF 51.
RACERS LEFT ON TRACK: 8.
By Lap 35, Jason was still in 7th place - second last. He was starting to worry.
The main thing he had to do in this race was beat Barnaby and at the moment, Barnaby was way out in 1st place, protected by Xavier, while Jason was still way back in 7th - with a total of eight racers still on the track and five of them between him and Barnaby.
Jason still had Horatio Wong directly in front of him in 6th and Joaquin Cortez behind him in 8th.
Cortez continued to harry Jason, especially in the iceberg section of the track - trying to axe through the Argonaut's tailfin by taking the turns straighter than Jason - recklessly straighter.
In the end, it was Cortez's determination to nail Jason that was his undoing. At one point amid the icebergs, Jason took one turn a little too wide, offering Cortez a clear straight-line charge at his exposed tailfin. Cortez took the opportunity, not realising that it wasn't an opportunity - it was bait.
Because suddenly Jason banked the other way, leaving Cortez to smash hard into the side of an iceberg.
Cortez's car was history and the Mexican racer and his navigator soon found themselves floating down to earth on hoverchutes, and as Jason completed Lap 36 several minutes later, Cortez was eliminated.
But now Jason was in last place - with Horatio Wong banking and bending in front of him.
Jason had three laps to overtake Wong.
Lap 37 - no dice. Wong fended him off grimly, at times using dubious defensive tactics.
Lap 38 - Jason flew the entire lap within a metre of Wong's tail, but no matter what he tried, he still couldn't take Wong.
Jason began to panic. He was running out of time and track.
He zoomed through Hobart again, and commenced Lap 39, knowing it could well be his last.
And as he rocketed down the long Southern Ocean straight, eyeing Wong's weaving tail-lights, he made the call.
'Bug,' he said. 'Either we get past this b.a.s.t.a.r.d on this lap or we're out! Out of the race, out of contention to go to New York, out of everything. I say we take him via the Clas.h.i.+ng Bergs. Opinions?'
The Bug replied instantly...and firmly.
'I'll take that as a yes,' Jason said.
The leaders rushed into the iceberg section of the course, all taking the standard route, Wong among them. But as Wong swept right, taking the regulation route, Jason abruptly cut left, slicing between some smaller icebergs before he beheld two clas.h.i.+ng bergs.
They were absolutely gigantic.
The rough seas of the ocean and the underwater mechanism caused the two big icebergs to alternately slide apart and then clang back together like a pair of G.o.dsized cymbals. The enormous bulk of the two bergs - ea
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