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    2214 FX400 AG Race League Review - Part 1

    ROUND 1 – VINETA K

    The FX400 returned to the resort town for the first time in almost 10 years with a party reception, and some of the biggest crowds the race had seen since it's inception. Whilst no-one had a clear idea of what to expect for this season, they were given a good indication after pole was taken surprisingly by Japanese rookie Ryoichi Honda in only his first FX400 race. Even more remarkable was that second was taken up by another rookie, Julia O'Connell in the Icaras. Þora Haraldssen rounded out the top 3 in the AG Systems, with last year's champion Roman Kovalenko, Tyrrell Byron, Sebak-Abou Gazia, Liana Morelli and Jean Belmondo qualifying a disappointing 8th in the EG-X.

    When the race started, Honda pulled an early lead as O'Connell and Kovalenko fell back, promoting Haradlssen and Byron to the podium spot. Byron would pass Honda quickly as the first lap came to a close, but a direct hit with a missile saw Honda reassume first. He would not look back for the remainder of the race, despite a quake from Byron.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the pack was getting into its dogfights to see who will prevail. O'Connell would recharge back through the pack to gradually get up to third whilst Haraldssen would fall back from weapon hits down to mid-pack. This didn't last for long as Haraldssen saw herself batting Sebak Abou-Gazia for the final podium spot towards the end of the race.

    On the penultimate lap, Honda deployed a row of mines just after the Ignition Spire Corner approaching the tunnel . Whilst most of the field past it, O'Connell in the fragile Icaras wasn't so lucky and got eliminated as a result. Funnily enough, the same tactic worked on the final lap with Byron eliminated this time after an excellent effort.

    With no-one behind him, Honda won there by a whopping 4.6 seconds over Roman Kovalenko, who had persevered with the pack and used O'Connell and Byron's eliminations to his advantage and climb back to second. Haraldssen would finish third after an unlucky bomb dropped Abou-Gazia two spots, also giving fourth to Liana Morelli in the Triakis.

    Overall Standings (1 of 12)

    1. R. HONDA (JPN)– 8 pts.
    Assegai
    2. R. KOVALENKO (RUS) – 6 pts.
    Harimau
    3. T. HARALDSSEN (NOR) – 5 pts.
    AG Systems
    4. L. MORELLI (ITA)– 4 pts.
    Triakis
    5. S. ABOU-GAZIA (UAE) – 3 pts.
    Mirage
    6. J. BELMONDO (FRA) – 2 pts.
    EG-X
    7. C. EMERY (ENG) - 1 pts.
    Goteki 45

    ROUND 2 – ANULPHA PASS

    The second round of the season saw return to the Sinucit nightlife to race at Anulpha Pass, one of the temporary tracks from the old Delta League. In qualifying, O'Connell managed a great time of 20.71 seconds, .4 seconds faster than Honda. Unfortunately, irregularities in the engine's compressor fans saw him demoted four spots down to 6th. Therefore, the rest of starting grid saw Abou-Gazia promoted to2nd followed by Kovalenko, Haraldssen and Byron. Belmondo and Morelli rounded out the top 8.
    The race started with a great battle with the leaders as well as Liana Morelli, who had an extraordinary start and was keeping up very well with Haraldssen, Abou-Gazia and O'Connell for over half a lap. The, as they were exiting the tunnel leading up to the Greenline split, the four pilots went wide, opening a gap on the inside for Honda to take. Once more, a rocket from Abou-Gazia halted their charge, allowing Honda to zip straight through and create a lead. O'Connell would struggle with shield strength as a result and was subsequently eliminated a lap later.

    Fortunately, Morelli and Abou-Gazia got away the quickest and duelled each other for second spot. This went on for a few laps until Abou-Gazia was hit with a rocket from Morelli at the same spot as the pileup earlier to assume 2nd. Abou-Gazia fell back to sixth.

    With a fair distance from the rest of the pack, Morelli showed some of her best racing ever as she crept closer and closer to the Assegai ahead. Eventually she came into sight of him as they were coming into the final laps. However, a bomb strategically placed on the line to start the final lap slowed Morelli down, but she still hung onto second.

    Another pilot that made good gains as the Brazilian Piranha pilot Thiago Castillo, through the use of a quake that slowed everyone in the pack, elevating him to 3rd place. However, the pack regained their pace and Castillo gradually fell back. He did get one target, which was Griffin Lang the FEISAR.

    Honda continued on to his second win in a row and, coupled with his FX350 teammate, Obaid Meer's win, saw a dominant weekend for the resurgent African team. Morelli would place second, capping of an excellent race for her; whilst Haraldssen would round out the podium. The only other elimination this round was Jean Belmondo having run into a bomb at the Goteki Stadium on the final lap.

    Overall Standings (2 of 12)

    1. R. HONDA (JPN)– 16 pts.
    Assegai
    2. T. HARALDSSEN (NOR) – 10 pts.
    AG Systems
    3. R. KOVALENKO (RUS) – 9 pts.
    Harimau
    4. L. MORELLI (ITA)– 9 pts.
    Triakis
    5. S. ABOU-GAZIA (UAE) – 6 pts.
    Mirage
    6. T. BYRON (USA) - 4 pts.
    Auricom
    7. J. BELMONDO (FRA) – 2 pts.
    EG-X

    ROUND 3 – MOA THERMA

    The third round of the League sees the first international round of the year at the Sicilian resort town of Moa Therma, moved forward from its traditional penultimate round slot. Þora Haraldssen followed on from her win from last year by qualifying on pole for the race, with Liana Morelli filling the front row in second after an excellent lap from the Triakis pilot. The rest of the top 8 comprised of Byron, Honda, FEISAR's Griffin Lang, Kovalenko, Belmondo and O'Connell.

    Haraldssen got off the line first with good starts going to Honda and Lang. The first lap went relatively well with the standings quite well established with Haraldssen in first place, followed by Byron, Honda and Lang. However, Haraldssen fell back and further hit by a missile from Morelli's Triakis which saw her drop to fourth. A quake saw her regain third.

    At the front, a three way battle was developing between Honda, Byron and Lang. Lang fell back after a missile hit from Byron, then a lucky mine deployment at the Corig Island mag-strip saw Byron taking the lead and pull a strong lead. Morelli would also capitalise on this to gain second. On the final lap, Honda used a turbo to boost past Morelli as they were negotiation the Serptel Overpass and pulled some space between the two.

    Despite attempts by both to pass each other and catch the leader, it was Tyrrell Byron of Auricom who took his first win of his career and was the first time an American had won an AGRC race in an American craft since Bobby Butler won the third round of the 2136 F7200 League. Honda would place second to hold onto his League lead and Morelli would place equal second with Haraldssen in the standings as she would finish fourth.

    Overall Standings (3 of 12)

    1. R. HONDA (JPN)– 22 pts.
    Assegai
    2. T. HARALDSSEN (NOR) – 14 pts.
    AG Systems
    2. L. MORELLI (ITA)– 14 pts.
    Triakis
    4. T. BYRON (USA) - 12 pts.
    Auricom
    5. R. KOVALENKO (RUS) – 11 pts.
    Harimau
    6. S. ABOU-GAZIA (UAE) – 6 pts.
    Mirage
    7. J. BELMONDO (FRA) – 2 pts.
    EG-X
    7. G. LANG (GER) - 2 pts.
    FEISAR

    ROUND 4 – CHENGHOU PROJECT

    As much as the pilots were enjoying the new format of the AGRC, this was the one track none of them were looking forward to. The tight and unforgiving Chenghou Project, Makana's Chinatown, had returned and was bound to cause a few upsets. Not so much for Auricom, with Byron continuing his breakthrough win in Italy by scoring pole for the race with a time narrowly beating Roman Kovalenko's Harimau. Kovalenko, along with previous winners of the FX350 rounds on this track (Haraldssen, Belmondo, O'Connell, Honda) were tipped as favorites for this race, but considering there has not been a two-time winner of this race in the category, there were some doubts.

    Nonetheless, the race started with Byron launching excellently off the line, leaving everyone behind coming into the first corner and beyond. Following behind were Kovalenko, Haradlssen (qualified 4th), Morelli (3rd) and Honda (5th). It wasn't long before we got our first victim with O'Connell being eliminated in the second lap as the Icaras' high speed and relatively weak shielding not holding up very well. Similar deal with Abou-Gazia and Morelli towards the later stages of the race, although only the former was out.

    At the front, Kovalenko had to fall back due to low shield energy allowing Honda and Byron to assume the front of the pack. These two battled quite hard, maybe too hard considering the state of their shield levels. Sure enough, the demons of the Heights struck after a quake from Morelli (had also came back through the grid and was positioned in 5th) eliminated both pilots at once, leaving Kovalenko, who had regained third, with a clear shot for his first victory of the year.

    Haraldssen and Morelli would fill out the top 3, whilst Belmondo, Lang, Prianha's Thiago Castillo and Qirex's Nadia Elenova rounding out the point scoring positions. Both Honda and Byron were very disappointed with their results, but both maintained that things would improve at Metropia.

    Overall Standings (4 of 12)

    1. R. HONDA (JPN)– 22 pts.
    Assegai
    2. T. HARALDSSEN (NOR) – 20 pts.
    AG Systems
    3. L. MORELLI (ITA)– 19 pts.
    Triakis
    3. R. KOVALENKO (RUS) – 19 pts.
    Harimau
    5. T. BYRON (USA) - 12 pts.
    Auricom
    6. J. BELMONDO (FRA) – 7 pts.
    EG-X
    7. S. ABOU-GAZIA (UAE) – 6 pts.
    Mirage
    7. G. LANG (GER) - 6 pts.
    FEISAR

    ROUND 5 – METROPIA

    The fifth round of the FX400 takes us to Kyoto, Japan for the Metropia round of the League. It was to be a big homecoming for local hero Honda, but after a heavy hit with the wall during practice broke several steering systems on the craft. Despite the efforts of the team to repair the craft, he was unable to qualify, meaning he would have to sit out this round: a crushing blow to his League hopes.

    As qualifying came to a close, Kovalenko scored pole followed by Lang, Morelli, Belmondo, Haraldssen, Elenova, Abou-Gazia and O'Connell. The field remained incredibly close for the majority of the first lap. The first to falter was Morelli in dramatic circumstances: as she was exiting from the right-left following Gemini's Pin, a mistimed turbo activation speared the Italian into a gantry support, catapulting her into the air before coming to rest on the track. She was able to continue, but would run lower in the grid as she was complaining of neck pain throughout the rest of the race.

    Meanwhile, Jean Belmondo was making his way up the grid after starting in 4th place (and falling to 5th) to the front, competing with Kovalenko, Elenova and Lang for the lead. Then suddenly, a quake launched by Belmondo stopped Elenova's Qirex dead in her tracks, pushing her down to 4th and elevating Belmondo into the lead. Although Lang gave Belmondo some trouble, a well-placed bomb pushed Lang back.

    After a strongly fought battle, Belmondo scored his first win of the season alongside Elenova, who managed to recover to finish second, and Kovalenko in which, in the midst of Honda's non-start, sees him lead the League for the first time this season.

    Morelli's accident would see her diagnosed with a broken neck and subsequent paralysis. She was able to wrestle the craft to the finish line due to a safety feature in which an exoskeleton would clamp down and hold the pilot in the event of a dramatic collision or elimination. This was Triakis' response to the recent issue of pilot restraint in AG racing. I wasn't until after she left the craft did the effects were onset. This accident would leave her out of most of the rest of the season, with Triakis supplying temporary pilots until Morelli is fit to fly again.

    Overall Standings (5 of 12)

    1. R. KOVALENKO (RUS) – 24 pts.
    Harimau
    2. T. HARALDSSEN (NOR) – 23 pts.
    AG Systems
    3. R. HONDA (JPN)– 22 pts.
    Assegai
    4. L. MORELLI (ITA)– 21 pts.
    Triakis
    5. J. BELMONDO (FRA) – 15 pts.
    EG-X
    6. T. BYRON (USA) - 12 pts.
    Auricom
    7. G. LANG (GER) - 10 pts.
    FEISAR

    ROUND 6 - TECH DE RA

    The sixth round of the season took place at the Tech De Ra solar power plant in Arizona. Being the final race before the mid-year break, quite a few pilots were feeling more relaxed than usual to this race. Other though, namely Ryoichi Honda and Assrgai, were more serious. After the failures of the last two races, Honda was now placed in third behind Kovalenko and AG System's Haraldssen. It was vital that they score a good place here. Meanwhile, triakis' spot on the grid was taken by upcoming test pilot Clara Mandel in anticipation for the team's FX350 pilot, Jason Colonomos, to take over for the remainder of Liana Morelli's rehabilitation.

    In qualifying, everyone was surprised to see Sebak Abou-Gazia of Mirage qualify fastest, followed by O'Connell and Honda. However, Abou-Gazia had a very poor start which saw O'Connell taing the lead followed by Honda and Haraldssen. A quick quake by Honda saw O'Connell fall back to third, but the trio still kept fighting. This quarrel would end after Haraldssen was severely slowed by a rocket and a missile, whilst O'Connell would be eliminated by another quake from Honda.

    But Haraldssen's battle was not over yet. She quickly saw herself in another three-way with Byron and Lang which raged on for a few laps. Sadly, partly distracted after the leech beam malfunctioned, Haraldssen was hit by another rocket/missile combo, eliminating her from the race.

    This eventful race would see Honda return to the top step of the podium, with Kovalenko scoring second. Abou-Gazia would recover and capitalise on O'Connel and Haraldssen's retirements to take third, elevating him to draw 7th with Lang and FEISAR.

    After six rounds, Roman Kovalenko and Ryoichi Honda are drawn on first with 30 points apiece, with Þora Haraldssen rounding out the top 3 on 23. Morelli is currently fourth on 21, but this is due to go down as she misses more races in the season. Jean Belmondo is holding a healthy fifth on 19 just ahead of Tyrrell Byron on 15 and Griffin Lang and Sebak Abou-Gazia on 12 each. The remaining point scorers are: Nadia Elenova (7), Thiago Castillo (4) and Colin Emery (1). Despite strong qualifying times, O'Connell is yet to score.

    Overall Standings (6 of 12)

    1. R. KOVALENKO (RUS) – 30 pts.
    Harimau
    2. R. HONDA (JPN)– 30 pts.
    Assegai
    3. T. HARALDSSEN (NOR) – 23 pts.
    AG Systems
    4. L. MORELLI (ITA)– 21 pts.
    Triakis
    5. J. BELMONDO (FRA) – 17 pts.
    EG-X
    6. T. BYRON (USA) - 15 pts.
    Auricom
    7. G. LANG (GER) - 12 pts.
    FEISAR
    7. S. ABOU-GAZIA (UAE) - 12 pts.
    Mirage
    Last edited by keg_11; 18th August 2014 at 02:50 PM.

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