Czech pilot Martin Sonka put his DNF from yesterday behind him and laid down a blistering 52.097s – the fastest time so far this week to win today’s Red Bull Air Race Qualifying. Michael Goulian’s day began with a DNF after he exceeded the G-limit in his first run however, he fought back in his second run posting at time of 52.458s, just 0.361s behind Sonka putting him second. He was closely followed by fellow American Kirby Chambliss and Canadian Pete McLeod who finished third and fourth.
After the first round Mike told those watching the Live Feed, “Hard to believe it’s been nine years! I’m getting to like the rhythm of the track and you have to fly to the edge if you’re going to win in this track” and after the session tweeted to his followers, “Brought home a 2nd place in quali! We’ll keep digging, just a little better everytime.” In another comment after qualifying he said, “I like racing in Abu Dhabi, we started well here last year and I like the rhythm of this racetrack. You have to fly to the edge if you’re going to win in this track. You’re flirting with the over-G, and that’s what we did. We didn’t take it easy and it paid off. We’re rowing downstream, everything is flowing great and we’re looking forward to a great season, but you can’t relax, everybody is super fast on this track.”
To make Mike’s day even better he earned the first DHL Fastest Lap Award of the season, a component introduced in 2016 that defines a new standard of speed at the Red Bull Air Race. At each stop, the DHL Fastest Lap Award goes to the pilot who records the fastest single lap among all of the two-lap Qualifying runs. At the end of the season, the pilot with the most awards across the eight races is awarded the DHL Fastest Lap trophy.
KIRBY CHAMBLISS & PETE MCLEOD
The American and former world champ Kirby Chambliss said, “I think I was a little bit conservative because I was afraid of an over-G so was trying to be careful. I think I can get a little bit quicker, and I don’t need to over-G any more. This is a G-track, it’s where the race will be won, it’s the guys that get the turn.”
Pete McLeod may be having some power problems with his engine again this year saying, “I’m having trouble in the vertical turns, if I pull any harder I’ll over-G, and I don’t have an answer of how I’m going to fix it. We’ll look at the analysis tonight, and try to improve for tomorrow.” Qualifying 4th will put the Canadian up against German and current World Champion Matthias Dolderer in the first round tomorrow.
Germany’s Florian Berger set the bar for the Challenger Class in the Red Bull Air Race season opener at Abu Dhabi, UAE with a Qualifying time of 59.682. In second and third place, Daniel Ryfa of Sweden (1:00.562) and Great Britain’s Ben Murphy (1:00.565) were separated by a mere three-thousands of a second. Rounding out the Challenger Class field in Abu Dhabi are Mélanie Astles of France, Kevin Coleman of the USA, newcomer Baptiste Vignes, who is also of France, and Luke Czepiela of Poland.
“I’m not really sure why we’re so slow. I’m flying better than I did last year, but we need to gain some speed. I’ll be working all night to work out where I can be faster. I know I need to work on the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre and I have to fly clean tomorrow.”
Results Challenger Class Qualifying, Abu Dhabi
1. Florian Bergér (GER) 59.682, 2. Daniel Ryfa (SWE) 1:00.562, 3. Ben Murphy (GBR) 1:00.565, 4. Mélanie Astles (FRA) 1.00.742, 5. Kevin Coleman (USA) 1:02.000, 6. Baptiste Vignes (FRA) 1:02.703, 7. Luke Czepiela (POL) 1:07.587
Photo Credits: Red Bull Air Racing