Here's the starting grid.
I ran Thomas, sponsored by Scarlett Annie
Caesar ran the ram-car Dreamline and the buggy Rhapsody In Blue, sponsored by Slime.
John ran Til Death Do Us Part and a rocket-armed car the name of which escapes me, sponsored by Rutherford.
Jason ran three buggies: Please Don't Touch, Stay On These Roads and Devil In My Car, again sponsored by Slime.
Ed ran Georgia Lee and Miss Murder, sponsored by Idris.
I kept the run to Gate 1 fairly clear and as short a distance as possible, on the hope it would reduce some of the carnage before the race opened up. It didn't.
Thomas is a big vehicle, and made for an interesting start-grid, with people trying to avoid being near him.
And away we went! Miss Murder forged ahead with nitro, whilst some of the buggies ramped up the speed and roared away to the first gate. Thomas plodded doggedly forward, assuming that things would get out of his way or get crushed. Only John hung back, hoping to escape the rush and then come back from behind. He did take the opportunity to slice up Stay On These Roads with a chainsaw though; our first casualty.
Passing space was tight at the first gate. Thomas took the first shooting damage as Miss Murder crossed the line and activated its weapons.
Chaos ensued. Thomas sliced into Miss Murder ...
... but came under fire as Caesar and John's buggies crossed the line and got guns and flamethrowers into action. Thomas ended up riddled with bullets, and on fire. Meanwhile Dreamline smashed into Georgia Lee and destroyed it.
Finally Please Don't Touch entered the fray, piling in with its ferocious spikes and setting off a chain of collisions, wrecks and finally an explosion which saw Miss Murder, Dreamline and Thomas all eliminated.
But what's this? Thomas back again? Well, yes. The Audience Votes system allows a player to respawn one vehicle from their team if they have enough votes and if they have no remaining vehicles. It keeps players in the game until the end. So weakened, but defiant, Thomas's crew got him back into action.
Briefly, anyway. John's car came in from behind, pulled up under my rear deck and unloaded rockets into me, destroying Thomas again - a respawned vehicle only has half of its starting hits.
At this point John had to go home, so his vehicles pulled out. This left four of us in the game, and we'd all been totally eliminated, so were each running one, weakened, respawned vehicle. Thomas was a wreck (under repair, it has to be said), but Dreamline, Georgia Lee and Please Don't Touch were all making a run for the next gate.
This stage of the game saw some great high-speed driving. Caesar kept himself ahead of Please Don't Touch, but suffered from a hail of grenades and small-arms fire.
As the three cars passed Gate 2, Thomas plodded slowly back into action.
I reasoned that rather than try to catch up I was better off trying to engage the leader, so turned off course. By now the three other vehicles were past Gate 3 and were in a run to the finish. I got off a harpoon shot, which didn't achieve much ...
... but he buzzsaws and small-arms proved effective in destroying other vehicles.
"What fun!" said Thomas.
Unfortunately simply destroying other vehicles doesn't cut it, since they pick up enough Audience Votes to respawn almost immediately, so were straight back into the race. Ed got Georgia Lee back in action after a slicing from Thomas, and used a spectacular slide and skid to edge the car's nose over the finish line for the win.
The game was a lot of fun; I was especially pleased with how the terrain I am putting together looked in terms of adding character to the race. We didn't encounter too many rules issues, despite using a whole range of things for the first time. The Battlehammer perk proved popular and deadly - it adds a vehicles hazards to smash attacks, making reckless drivers into deadly rammers. I also found Boarding Party useful, since it allowed me to bring my considerable firepower to bear even after a collision - and Thomas is all about collisions.
Respawning does change the nature of races, since it's not hard to keep bringing a single vehicle back. This meant that it was quite hard to take down a race-leader, and in my case it made it impossible for me to really get into a winning position from behind; if I eliminated an opposing vehicle, by the time I'd negotiated the required gates it would have respawned and moved on from where I killed it. Much of this is down to my having a vehicle not best suited to a race, though, and the point of the respawn rule is to keep everyone in the game until the end, which it certainly achieved.