13. TAKEs.h.i.+, T.
12. CHASER, J 12. CHASER, J.
5. PIPER, A 12. CHASER, J.
7. DIXON, W 2. BECKER, B.
9. SCHUMACHER,K 9. SCHUMACHER,K.
15. [BYE] 2. BECKER, B.
2. BECKER, B.
But now it all came down to one race and two racers: Xavier Xonora and Jason Chaser.
And they couldn't have been more different.
First there was Xavier who with his bye in the first round and his two soft victories in the quarters and semis, had raced only 25 laps in the course of the entire day.
Then there was Jason, the very last racer to qualify for the tournament and the driver who had partic.i.p.ated in the three most gruelling races of the day. During those three races, two of which had gone the full 100-lap distance, he'd racked up an astonis.h.i.+ng 290 laps: 2 hours and 20 minutes worth of racing.
The two cars lined up on the grid.
The Speed Razor and the Argonaut.
Car No.1 and Car No.55.
The crowd fell silent.
Even the sponsors in the VIP tent lowered their champagne to watch.
This was the big one.
XONORA V CHASER.
The final race of the Sponsors' Tournament was nothing short of a match-racing cla.s.sic.
And for a simple reason: it began with a disaster.
In his superfast Lockheed-Martin, Xavier won the dash from the Start Line and on the first left-hand turn of the race, he cut sharply across Jason's path, clipping the Argonaut's nosewing, snapping it off.
And so, after one lap, Jason pitted and by the time he came out on Lap 2 with a new nosewing, the Argonaut was barely a car-length in front of the Speed Razor.
The ensuing chase phase was utterly ruthless.
Just as he had done to Horatio Wong earlier in the day, Xavier hounded Jason.
His every turn was perfect. His adherence to the racing line, flawless. It was, quite simply, superb hover car racing, clinical in its precision. He gained a foot on the Argonaut with every lap.
But where Wong had failed, Jason didn't falter. He fended Xavier off in the only possible way - by driving equally well, his eyes fixed forward.
And with every lap he survived, the crowd roared ever louder. After the nosewing mishap on the first corner, no-one had expected Jason to last more than a few laps. But then, this was the kid who'd survived a 9-lap chase phase earlier in the day.
One lap became five.
The chase phase continued.
Five became eight.
Xavier's chase continued.
Jason raced grimly, his jaw set.
Xavier pursued him like a bloodhound - lap after perfect lap - at one stage bringing his nosecone to within five centimetres of the Argonaut's nosewing...but not past it.
In the end, Jason held the Speed Razor off for an astonis.h.i.+ng twelve laps before Xavier was compelled to pit.
Jason never recovered the lost time from that first unexpected pit stop.
The effect was brutal
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