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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Adelaide, Australia
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    The Classic Leagues

    During the first century of AG racing, we had seen many outstanding pilots steer some of the most advanced ships ever crafted on a number of sheer circuits. Some of these circuits are well remembered whereas other we love to forget. This was particularly the case with the original F3600 tracks, such as Altima VII and Silverstream, and the fans were quite upset when these tracks were replaced by the then-state-of-the-art tracks of the F5000. The F7200 Classic Leagues, held between 2129 and 2134, brought AG racing back to the forgotten tracks of the previous leagues and, in a way, the last display of classic AG racing before its upcoming stranglehold by the Overtel Corporation.

    On June 9 2128 Pierre Belmondo, pioneer of AG technology, passed away aged 123. A state of mourning was observed worldwide and the Stanza Inter round of the 2128 season was dedicated to him. Almost immediately, the F7200 Race Commission (under control by former FEISAR/Icaras executive Roger Bowen) began discussing how to permanently honour Pierre Belmondo. The most favourable option was to create a teams’ champions’ trophy in his name. But a much more ambitious idea was about to be presented.

    At the same time, the Commission had the issue of upgrading the current F7200 tracks. Ever since the series’ inception in 2116, the Mega City circuits had been virtually unchanged in terms of track condition. By 2128, most of the tracks looked quite dilapidated as a result of the numerous weapon detonations over the years as well as slight changes to accommodate the advancing ship and weapon designs. Because of the time it would take to renovate the tracks, several temporary locations would need to be used for the 2129 season.

    During that year, the anti-gravity magazine ‘AG Today’ published hosted a survey asking for the fans’ favourite AG tracks. The results of this survey were published in their September issue. Quite surprisingly, the majority of the top tracks were from the previous F5000 League, most of which were still in use (probably because there were a few fans who remember the old F3600 tracks). This started a series of discussions in the F7200 Commission which culminated in the decision to run the top 8 tracks from that survey for the 2129 season.

    However the idea of racing modern AG craft, in speeds in excess of 600km/h, on obsolete tracks was not going to be easy, especially with the three F3600 tracks which made the list. Most of the old F3600 tracks have been left to ruin after the F3600 had been phased out (the only exception was Korodera, which had been converted to a theme park). Only Altima was in the best condition to racing standard due to the track’s current use as Auricom’s main test track. As such, Altima would be raced earlier in the year. Terramax, in Germany, was also quite well kept, but not to the standard as Altima. After it was retired from competition, Terramax remained open for the amateur racing scene and on-and-off held various rounds of the European Championship.

    But the biggest challenge was Arridos IV, situated in the heart of Utah’s Monument Valley. The biggest problem with the desert track had been its isolation from a major centre. Although Salt Lake City was no more than a half hour on an AG train, the amount of spectators that came to see the sleek ships in action became a major logistical challenge. When the F5000 was announced, the United States Anti-Gravity Association (USAGA) quickly chose a metropolitan track and allocated all resources into that track (Spilskinanke). As such, Arridos was completely abandoned and most of the tracks facilities were demolished. The only reminders of its existence had been the tunnels and segments of the track itself. Due to the massive repair of Arridos, as well as the upgrades to the circuit so that it can be race at F7200 specification, the track was worked on during the 2129 season with massive donations from several international AG Associations (the USAGA couldn’t have fronted the entire bill). There were doubts that the track would be completed in time. Luckily, it was completed (albeit two weeks late) just in time for it to host the finale of the 2129 season.

    There was a lot of celebration at the first round of the 2129 season at Talon’s Reach with the return of AG racing to the fast Canadian track. The enthusiasm of the crowd skyrocketed when the ship were hard at it. British Pirhana pilot Laughlan Ivers pulled away from the pack to take the win. In fact, the whole 2129 season was dominated by Ivers and Pirhana with second place secured by Brazilian rookie, Vincinius Albeniz. At the end of the season, Pirhana were rightfully awarded with the new memorial trophy in honour of Pierre Belmondo: The Belmondo Cup – awarded to the team who not just finished first in the team standings, but had shown the skill and determination to achieve it.

    The 2129 “Classic” season was a runaway success, enjoying popularity not seen since the F5000, if not ever in the history of the sport. This influenced the F7200 Commission, in association with the Anti-Gravity Federation (AGF) and Mega City, organised a plan to convert the F7200 to race on the older international circuits. It stated that “…the Classic Leagues will run for five years from 2130 to 2134, where at such time the F7200 Commission would assess the long-term goals of the plan and results from the previous competitions before making a decision to permanently race on these tracks.”

    The “Classic Leagues”, as they now became known, continued to be a spectacle for audiences around the world. But it may have been from one pilot that helped the success of the Classic Leagues and create a legend: Katsuogo Muro. Muro moved to AG Systems from FEISAR’s pilot development program after increased pressure from media in his homeland. Despite being a mid-pack runner over the first few years in the F7200, he had become a sort-of protégé to AG Systems’ main pilot, Kurt Graham. But when the Classic Leagues came along, he was a different pilot altogether. Muro was always at in the leading pack and gave the veterans a good run for their money. He managed to the tighter tracks to his advantage and ran away to his first F7200 Championship in 2030. Eventually, everyone knew that Muro, in the quick and nimble AG Systems, on the tight tracks of the Classic League, was unstoppable. It’s no wonder that Muro (and AG Systems) claimed all but one Classic League Championship.

    Apart from Muro, there were a few other pilots which stood out during this period of the F7200. The other AG-S pilots, Finn Jarno Toivonen and Zhang Dan, both shone at times. Muro and Toivonen were really good friends as well as teammates, and generally if you saw one on the track, there was a higher chance you would run into the other. On numerous occasions, Toivonen supported Muro in his championship attack and helped keep the charging Auricoms at bay to secure the 2133 Teams’ Championship for AG Systems. Zhang would assist the fighting duo in any way he can and sometimes gave Muro the support that Toivonen couldn’t give.

    Auricom pilots Mélissa Flament and Aaron Hayden both were quite competitive as well. Flament kept achieving high placed finishes, even a 3rd place, up until her retirement at the end of the 2131 season; and Hayden would rise to become a strong pilot for Auricom who would finally break the AG Systems dominance after the Classic Leagues ended in 2135.

    Sadly, this popular era of AG racing was not to last. In 2132, the Overtel Corporation managed to take majority control of the Commission from the Belmondo Foundation. Seeing more profits that would come from a central location over international races, Ovetel did not continue with the Classic League plan and AG racing came back to Mega City in 2135. This was met with serious outcry from the public (who had grown stronger than ever due to the convenience of the races in their countries) and even the threat of boycotts plagued the decision. Despite Overtel completely revamping the media design for the sport, which exposed AG racing to extreme levels of publicity, they were still viewed with suspicion form then onwards. They were marginally forgiven when Overtel announced that the public will choose the tracks for the F9000 when it was announced in 2152.

    However this, plus the abolishing of AG racing after the fall of the F9000, most of these tracks were left to rot and as of today, the only way to race on these classic tracks is via simulator.
    Last edited by keg_11; 25th November 2012 at 12:09 AM.

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