The fourth race of Marbula One season two is taking place at the Aquamaring (pronounced Aquama-RING, not Aqua-MARE-ing, as I had been saying in my head all week), a relatively straightforward course with hairpin turns, a speed ramp, and a long straightaway. The wide-open course seems like it will benefit pure speed, as deft maneuvering might not come into play with so many opportunities for marbles to pull away from their competitors.
The first heat shows exactly that, as Pulsar (Team Galactic) and Snowstorm (Snowballs) see results much different from one another; Pulsar nearly overtakes Snowstorm en route to the fastest time in qualifying round one, while Snowstorm gets booted as one of the bottom four. Rivals Orangin (O’Rangers) and Rapidly (Savage Speeders) face off in heat five, both fighting for relevancy in the overall competition. However, the marble-to-marble showdown fails to bring out the best in either, as both are at risk of elimination right up until the last few heats.
The big story from the first qualifying round is the scary tumble from Yellup (Mellow Yellow) just as they reach the speed ramp. A dangerously low barrier allows the racer to bounce off course entirely in a moment that is not for the faint of heart. After some modifications (too little, too late), the second qualifying round commences.
Racers from both of the leading teams (Red Eye of Crazy Cat’s Eyes and Mimo of Team Momo) advance, but neither can reach round three. Top qualifier Pulsar, perennial bridesmaid Billy (Green Ducks), hometown favorite Ocean (Oceanics), and Bolt (Thunderbolts) compete for pole position in tomorrow’s race in round three, with Billy running cleanly in first through the first lap. However, a beautiful run in lap two sees Ocean pull into first and widen that lead, finally crossing the line to an eruption of cheers from the host crowd.
- Cerulean (Kobalts), Lemonlime (Limers), and Rima (Team Primary) all run together in the second heat, in what must have been a malfunction. (Announcer Greg Woods does not even comment on the oddity.) However, that means that Billy gets to run the course solo, which I have to imagine other teams are objecting about. The relaxed run nets him fourth place in qualifier one, and nearly eventually pole position.
- Red Eye ran a tremendous lap in the first qualifier, and that is despite banging into Minty Fresh (Minty Maniacs) in sector three. Considering Red Eye’s momentum, and Minty Fresh’s lack thereof, that collision might have cost him first overall heading into round two.
- Rima unable to qualify, so maybe last time I was too soon to anoint the new Team Primary racer as “Better than Mary”.
- Prayers up for Yellup. That was quite a long tumble, and you hate to see that kind of thing happen to anyone.
- Presentation notes: That three marble run was quite strange, especially due to the lack of commentary on it. I was hoping that it would be the new normal, as three racers at a time might make for some more intense moments in round one, but instead it remains an outlier. All told, I like this course, especially now that the track has been adjusted just after the ramp.