But again Barnaby confounded him - taking that hairpin perfectly as well, and thus fending Jason off again. 'How are you doing this, Barnaby!' Jason asked aloud.
'How do you know...?'
He cut himself off.
At that moment, like a sledgehammer-blow, it hit him... ...and it broke his heart.
Flashback: Jason and Dido that morning, sitting on the clifftop watching the sun rise. And Jason telling Dido how he planned to beat Barnaby that day: ' We've found a c.h.i.n.k in his technique. The Bug's been a.n.a.lysing his racing manoeuvres on video-disc. Barnaby's weak on right-hand hairpins - that's where he gets sloppy; he goes too wide, so you can cut inside him...'
Then another recollection struck Jason.
The time he had told Dido about his nightmares and his greatest fear: having his tailfin taken out. Then, the very next day, Horatio Wong had ruthlessly taken out his tailfin, almost killing him and the Bug.
His greatest fear at the time had come true.
And the event had all-but taken Jason over the edge, shattering his race confidence.
Oh, Dido...he thought. You didn't...
But the evidence was clear. Whenever he told Dido something, his enemies seemed to know it the following day.
Dido was in league with Barnaby and Xavier.
Jason's brain returned to Race 50.
The Argonaut screamed across the Start-Finish Line and started the last lap, Lap 51.
Ariel was leading.
Krishna was in 2nd place.
Then a gap.
Then Barnaby in 3rd.
And Jason in 4th.
Race 50 had essentially become two races: one between Ariel and Krishna for the win; and another between
Barnaby and Jason for 3rd place.
But as far as Jason was concerned, Krishna and Ariel didn't matter - however they finished, it didn't affect him
on the overall Ladder. All he had to do was beat Barnaby to get to New York: as things were, 3rd was as good as 1st
in this race.
Down the Southern Ocean Straight, through the Chicane for the last time.
He was still all over Barnaby, probing for a way past. Into the iceberg section.
Jason thought about taking the three Clas.h.i.+ng Bergs routes, but figured his luck there couldn't last. Better to hang onto Barnaby's tail - he could still take him.
But he couldn't take him in the icebergs.
Barnaby held him out, sometimes just by flagrantly taking up all the track, blocking Jason's path.
Northward, back towards Tasmania.
Then into the land-bound section.
More hairpins, and belying his previous efforts, Barnaby took them all beautifully - but now Jason was charging, pus.h.i.+ng Barnaby on every turn, the two cars almost side-by-side.
As Jason and Barnaby fought in the central region of Tasmania, ahead of them, Ariel Piper - having flown a near-perfect race - crossed the Finish Line five seconds ahead of Varishna Krishna, taking 1st place.
But Barnaby and Jason were still racing.
And with Ariel and Krishna com
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