THE 2949 DAYMAR RALLY: WRAPPED UP AND RUN DOWN
Well, folks, there you have it. The 2949 Daymar Rally is officially in the books.
On Monday of race week, over three dozen teams had signed up, across the three Rally divisions – Eight rover teams, thirteen bike teams, and nineteen in the buggy division, so many that race organizers launched them in two separate heats. Attrition was expected to be heavy. Of them all, less than ten percent – three teams out of 40 entrants – even reached Wolf Point, after leaving the start line and Eager Flats behind.
The names of the champions and runners-up are well known, by now. VIVA took the title in bike division. Team SHiFT claimed first in the Rover division. And in the hotly-contested buggy division, Exiles Racing earned the right to spit in the Nameless Trophy by being the closest to the finish once all vehicles were out of the race.
That’s right. Of nineteen buggy teams, representing all the various iterations of the Tumbril Cyclone, every single team was DNF. Wheel loss and catastrophic crashes took their toll across the board, but they were felt in the largest division the most. Race officials had prepared for this, of course – in the event that all race vehicles failed to reach Wolf Point, the team that made it furthest would be declared the winner. This rule would be used to determine the fates of the entire Buggy division – and two thirds of the placing teams altogether.
Impressively, it was the Bike division that held together the best. Many expected the higher speed and relatively delicate nature of the Dragonfly and Nox bikes involved in the race to riddle it with casualties, and it did – but Daymar was kind to them, on the 27th – Exiles Racing’s Torn was a favorite in the division, and seemed like he would coast to victory, but his systems failed within 25 kilometers of Wolf Point, leaving him to watch the three placing teams pass him in the dust. All three of them reached Wolf Point – presumably because the bike division had no wheels to lose. Team XENOS was the first to arrive, but biker Gwahir Scout, Injured and having trouble standing after the brutal course, simply stepped off his bike and collapsed next to it, a few feet from the steps to the airlock. VIVA’s Nox was the first team of any division to actually enter the shelter, followed close behind by Quantum Space Operations’ BoldWarrior, and team XENOS in third. Notably, BoldWarrior rode the entire race as a one-man team - racing without support and without a copilot. Bold only begins to describe it.
The rover division was also extremely competitive – some were surprised at how close the race proved to be, but with less differentiation between models, the pack was bound to stay close together. Nevertheless, Team Kuroda jumped out to an impressive lead. They were first to reach Eager Flats, and their choice over the middle of the route gave them an impressive advantage until their first Ursa flipped – and only a few minutes later, their replacement buggy ended up top-under as well. Kuroda’s support pilot managed to get the rover right-side-up again, but the effort had cost it a wheel. Without the traction to keep going, Kuroda couldn’t keep pace, and it was only a matter of time before they were overtaken.
And were they EVER overtaken. With Kuroda out of the race, Team SHiFT and a team known as The Ducklings battled it out, each on a route well away from the other. The lead traded between them several times. The Ducklings had edged ahead, when disaster struck – their rover gave out, giving Team SHiFT a clear lead over the rest of the battered field, and only 30 kilometers to cover. They had driven well over half the race with unknown damage causing yellow warning lights to flash, but made it. They were the only rover team to finish the Rally – and the first to do so in all the modern era’s practices and test runs. In the division most expected to end with Daymar victorious over the racers, Team SHiFT’s RSI Ursa had done the impossible.
As expected, though, the heat and excitement of the day were focused on the contentious buggy division, whose start suffered minor disruptions from the type of elements that make the Daymar Rally the “filthy” race it is. Once underway, though, the competition on the ground almost instantly heated up. Again, another team found itself with an impressive lead – for the buggy division it was powerhouse SCIRE Imperium, which outlasted the other teams in their own heat, and soon only faced competition from Omega Protectorat, with whom they traded the lead time and time again, in an echo of the pace between SHiFT and Ducklings. Wheel losses forced the teams to surrender the lead yet again, and put SCIRE Imperium well out of the lead, with Omega Protectorat blazing ahead of them as the 1st heat was approaching Eager Flats. Then Daymar reminded them all exactly who, and what, they were really racing against.
A chain of wrecks, flips, breakdowns and injuries left Omega Protectorat and the rest of the 2nd heat in smoke and unable to continue. The wreck of the 1st-place buddy was only 3km ahead, and the rest of the field, the entire 1st heat, was half a race behind. At that moment, SCIRE Imperium driver Raideralexis shoveled as many oxypens as he could into his race bag, shouldered it, and started running.
The first heat, which had ironically been delayed in starting by gunfire and attempted sabotage around the starting line. In the delayed heat, though, racing was fierce: Exiles Racing’s buggy team was intent from the start, but followed closely by the rest of the pack. By the time they had overtaken SCIRE Imperium’s runner, the heat had thinned to just them, MOG Nation, and Skylark – all speeding across rock and dune towards Wolf Point, while RaiderAlexis put one foot in front of the other. With each step he took, he increased the chances that Daymar would ask a toll of his competitors that they couldn’t pay. MOG Nation overtook him, and started to rapidly close ground on the lead when Exiles’ buggy finally gave out only 16 km from Wolf Point. MOG Nation was in position to pass Exiles’ runner in the last few kilometers before the finish, if everything went perfect. Skylark was closing quickly as well, eating up the distance between them and 2nd heat’s SCIRE runner.
Then Daymar turned his head once again.
In another stunning few moments, the race was decided. Barely 16 kilometers from Wolf Point, Exiles’ Minza could see the lights of the emergency shelter, and the ships waiting there, as he collapsed from exhaustion. Not far behind, MOG Nation’s Cyclone plowed into the face of one of Daymar’s deceptively-soft dunes, vanishing for a moment before spitting out a wheel and calling it a day. Skylark’s buggy flipped and rolled to a stop, out of the race completely, never climbing higher than 4th place. SCIRE Imperium would hold them off for the third-place prize.
The 2949 Daymar Rally was over.
After sitting untouched for thirteen years, Daymar proved himself as unpredictable as ever. The race itself was as filthy as ever, but a few things stood out. The biggest powerhouse teams, SCIRE Imperium and Exiles Racing, each only figured prominently in one division, despite fielding teams in multiple – they were no less vulnerable to attrition than others. In closing interviews, the teams that practiced the most together, and who understood the race best, seemed to prevail. “It’s an endurance race,” said Herodocles, captain of Team SHiFT’s winning Rover, for example. “And you really have to focus on the endurance part.”
This mindset prevailed even in the quickest division. “You have to think tactically. Slow the pace down, and be more careful,” noted VIVA captain MrIbra.
Strategy, tactics, and care will be remembered, though, as only part of what was needed for victory. TheBoldWarrior raced in the bike division alone, with no backup vehicle or support driver, and took second place in an admirable show of guts and discipline. Division winner Minza ran himself to exhaustion to stave off MOG Nation, whose driver had lost support and backup earlier on, and was effectively racing blind in the dark of night to catch up. EVO Corporation’s driver Atticus did as well, covering 15 km in his own attempt to finish, despite being far from the winner’s circle. And then there was RaiderAlexis.
The last racer, the last man standing, Raider had moved from 2nd place to 1st place on foot, and held out longer than the rest of his entire division, buggy or not. He had nearly every rally fan urging him on, as he fought with every bit of his energy to hold onto the chance he had. I can only imagine what he was thinking when SCIRE Imperium’s support Cutlass dropped down in front of him, tailgate open, to waive him in to rest. Raideralexis isn’t just a part of racing history, now. He’s the newest racing legend. What a way to inaugurate the new era of the Daymar Rally.
Racing Officials will be finishing up the logistics and cleanup in the week to come, and offering their official congratulations to the first new racers to spit in the Trophy With No Name in more than a decade. Already, excitement surrounding next year’s Rally, registration for which will open soon, and for the upcoming Hurston Hurt Locker, an even first mentioned by Rally organizer Cor5aire during the rally broadcast. If things keep going like they’re going, we’re in for a hell of an exciting year, from Shubin to Wolf Point and at race venues between and beyond.
I’ll see you out there,