2137 P-Mar Brawl

The P-Mar Brawl of 2137 still resounds quite familiar with AG teams and fans today, as it was the first time that AG racing (or motor racing, for that manner) had seen a conflict between two teams in such violent circumstances. Whereas other teams would protest over an incident through a formal protest or motivation to innovate so as to gain an advantage over the other team, the tension between Goteki 45 and Icaras in the lead-up to that fateful race in September would spark into one of the bloodiest moments in the sport’s history.

Although they were new teams to AG competition, the Pacific Goteki 45 and British-based Icaras teams were not favourably liked by the community: Goteki with their focus on on-track combat than racing success and the commercial background and behaviour of the privately entered Icaras. As such, these teams normally remained at the back of the grid with FEISAR. On the odd occasion, they did enjoy some success but were constantly cut down with criticisms of their success. When Goteki won their maiden championship in 2128, the team was bombarded with criticism and accusations of foul play on part of the team. Their 2128 victory was indeed legitimate, but it was obvious that the more “pure” members of the community did not want this sort of team taking “their” silverware.

Things were looking quite well for Goteki and Icaras during the mid 2130s with both teams contracting and/or training talented pilots. This was particularly evident with Icaras when they acquired “DJ” Jukka Rautio in 2133, followed by Kenyan pilot Thomas Tanui from Assegai two years later (briefly). Although they never finished higher than 9th, they were never eliminated in a race which, for Icaras, was outstanding. In 2135, Goteki acquired female Polynesian pilot Sarema Illkeina from the Pacific Leagues. Over the course of two years, she had become the only possibility of the team winning another championship.

2137 was destined to be one of the most competitive battles in the F7200 League. Not just because of a classic Auricom-Qirex battle between Wolfgang Van-Über and Fyodor Eppirov respectively, but for the first time the top eight pilots all came from different teams. This included Illkeina for Goteki and upcoming British Icaras pilot George Dravare. The first race at Porto Kora was quite predictable, but after the next race at Mega Mall saw two battles going on: between Van-Über, Eppirov, Piranha’s Vincinius Albeniz and the late great Laughlan Ivers out front, and Dravare against Jarno Toivonen of AG Systems and Roland Ncita of Assegai.

The scene at Icaras was ecstatic during most of the year with all night parties put on to celebrate the point-scoring placing Dravare achieved in the previous race (they only have ever done this twice previously). At Mega Mall, Dravare managed to pip Toivonen to the line to score 5th and 2 points: his first points of his careers and Icaras’ first in almost a decade. This was followed by a 6th placing at Sampa Run (after a hard fought battle with Goteki) and another 5th and Stanza Inter. It had been commented that Icaras were celebrating as if they had won the championship.

At the start of the second half of the season, Goteki, who had fallen back in the first half, were starting to come back with Illkeina’s 4th placing at Hi-Fumii bringing here up behind Dravare and Toivonen in the standings (Ncita at this point was challenging the front runners). Icaras were starting to have some reliability issues with their craft, which dropped Dravare to 8th and the other Icaras crafts to near last: they had been careless with maintenance in midst with celebrating Dravare’s successes. This result inspired both teams to up their game for the next race at the tricky P-Mar Project.

Both Goteki and Icaras had their intentions to go well, but both saw stiff competition from the other. Whilst both teams had been back-runners, Goteki had made it habit to prey on the weak-shielded Icaras craft just for pleasure. Knowing that Icaras was threatening a good placing, they were going to place particular focus on them. Icaras also saw the threat of elimination by Goteki (and knew that P-Mar was one of their most hated tracks). So, they placed massive resources on Dravare so he can rise above the Icaras’ “flaws” and take home a good place.

The start saw a commonly seen line-up: Van-Über and Eppirov out front followed by Ivers, but with Toivonen in a tight battle with Albeniz for fourth, leaving the three newer teams bringing up the rest of the field. Dravare and Illkeina battled quite hard with each other, clearly no quarter was given. Then suddenly, the tables were turned after Vincinius Albeniz scored a lucky quake which forced the original (and leading) four pilots to pit again, putting them out of contention.

With the first two positions were likely to be Albeniz followed by Assegai’s Roland Ncita, it was a dogfight between Dravare and Illkeina for third. Both team owners, Resaru Kipwada (Goteki) and Burnston Burns (Icaras) reportedly exclaimed “This is it, get on with it!” but not reply from either pilot (both pilots had their radios of to get extra thurster power). This battle between Dravare and Illkeina was one of, if not, the hardest battles fought over three-quarters of a lap. Coming onto the final straight, Dravare, with the Icaras’ superior speed managed to just pull ahead of Illkeina, but a lucky plasma bolt from the Goteki hit dead-on to the Icaras engine: denying Icaras’ first podium just metres from the finish.

The sudden shock and outrage from the event caused an outburst of emotion within the Icaras team. But the most infuriated members instantly went to confront the “victorious” Goteki team. What resulted was an all-out riot between both teams that also included the neighbouring teams of AG Systems and Assegai (trying to break it up of course). Local authorities broke up the fighting which saw most members of both teams arrested. In total, 31 mechanics were injured, 5 of which were permanently crippled with a mechanic on each team killed. Kipwada himself succumbed to blunt force trauma to the head a few days after.

The entire AG community was in shock from the incident. A few pilots, such as Ncita, Toivonen and Ivers, would retire at the end of the year, using the incident and the resultant political trials as motivation to escape the increasingly political issues of the League. There were even rumours that the League would be suspended again (which were quickly extinguished).

Two weeks after the incident, the court cases began. Goteki defended that their actions were all within League rules, but Icaras maintained that Goteki deliberately held onto that plasma so they can humiliate Icaras whilst denying them their first podium. Most of the other teams couldn’t understand what and why this happened, in particular Qirex who had long time supported Goteki against their corruption allegations over the years, but had also provided Icaras with shielding technology to not stir any bad blood between the two teams.

As the subsequent trials went out, a decision was made quickly. Because the background leading up to the incident wasn’t illegal or morally incorrect, both teams had no reason to start the brawl between them. As such, both teams were charged of causing a violent conflict with another competing team, stripped of all points acquired during the year and banned from competition until at least the end of the 2138 season (this is in addition to paying damages to both the circuit and all parties injured in the incident). The main influence behind the quick decision was the threat of the League’s suspension due to the trials.

Goteki would not return after their base of operations on the man-made Hawaiian island of Makana was bombed by an unknown party later in the month. To this day, no-one has claimed responsibility although there had been conspiracy theories pointing the blame to Icaras.

Icaras would return in 2139, but at nowhere near the strength and exposure they had before the P-Mar Brawl. Although George Dravare stayed with the team and raced quite well, even scoring second at Manor Top in 2140, the team was sevrely vilified for causing the P-Mar Brawl in the first place; as such, when Burnston Burns died from a balloon accident that year, his son Terence to dissolve the team and trade in his father’s assets for a quiet home in the country.

On the bright side, not everyone involved in the Brawl was booed out by the AG community. This is mainly with Dravare. After Icaras dissolved, Dravare immediately sort out to sign with another team to keep his career going. He wanted to show to the world that he was a genuinely good pilot, not another Icaras playboy. He managed to sign with Qirex for 2141, which helped him win his only championship the year after and kept showing good form until his retirement at the end of 2146. Jukka Rautio too found success after Icaras, immediately defecting to Piranha after Icaras’ barring and took the 2138 championship with the Brazilian team. Rautio would retire at the end of the 2142 season. Thomas Tanui (who signed with Goteki in 2136) would return to Assegai for a few years before retiring in 2144, finishing last.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is based off Challenger #001 team descriptions with some edits in the interests of game continuity, particuarly Icaras and Goteki 45. Click on the links to read further on this story.