AA - I think 16.5x is definitely possible, but thinking that your tire should have been stopped by the flag on your run here at 16.4x is not totally accurate. Many a'replays I have of my tire running through this flag at 16.4x to 16.5x only to land a 16.8x or worse, but it's the trajectory that allows the finish at the top of the flag, and with that trajectory comes a slightly delayed maneuver. You can see in our H2H that our bikes are LITERALLY deadlocked as late as 13.44 seconds (pause it there and you can't even tell there are 2 bikes racing.... every pixel is aligned as one bike). That means that your run was not ahead of mine in any way just 3 seconds before the finish. We just had a slightly different finish technique. I landed 16.7x 4 times before nailing 16.68.
16.5x is probably possible here... but very very very very difficult.
Yes, I'm well aware that hitting the top of the flag is optimal in terms of finishing at the highest point!
I think that it may be a bit quicker overall to sacrifice that for a little more speed in the trajectory and accept that you are going to hit the flag 'finish' point lower. Just not as ridiculously low and far from the flag center as happened here. At 16 seconds I am a good bit ahead of you due to this strategy.
My previous best run - which isn't uploaded as it is only 2 frames quicker than my previous uploaded best, so I didn't bother - also slides through the corner in exactly the same way. The difference being that it stops in a logical position, which would correspond to a run of around 16.50 here.
What is annoying is the lack of consistency (this happens on a good number of levels) - but I seem to recall that we both (and others in the past) might have casually mentioned this phenomena before, in passing. Just casually. like..
Yah several of the levels have quirky flag centers. Drives me bonkers and I would strongly prefer that if the bike touches any part of the flag... even just a hairline pixel, that it would register with precision every time. Look at where you finished! How does that even make sense? So yah the physics is definitely not totally perfect and sometimes makes for very frustrating experiences.
As for this map, I don't think there is anything you could have done here to grab a better time with the exact course you plotted. Even if you tried to keep spinning your front tire forward at the very end, I think your trajectory would have pushed your tire to too quickly around in a circle and you would have landed on your head without finishing. So I don't see you being "ahead" of me here at 16 seconds.
I've never played this level against my ghost, and haven't played in over 11 years. However, I do believe 16.5x is probably possible.