Aussie pilot Hall qualifies fifth for Red Bull Air Race World Championship decider

Former Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot Matt Hall has finished fifth in qualifying for the eighth and final race of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which will take place tomorrow at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, USA.

Currently third in the standings, Hall will need to finish in the top three in the final race of the season – and hope that the results of his title rivals Mike Goulian (USA) and Martin Šonka (CZE) fall in his favour if he is to lift the championship trophy.

Goulian is the current series leader and sits seven points ahead of Hall, with Šonka just two ahead of the Aussie. In today’s qualification round, it was Šonka who finished best of the leading trio in second place. Meanwhile Goulian languished down in ninth.

Germany’s Matthias Dolderer won today’s session.

For Hall, fifth was enough to make him feel comfortable ahead of tomorrow’s race opening Round of 14, which is a head-to-head knockout. Hall will fly against Canadian Pete McLeod, and the faster of those two will proceed to the second stage of the race.

“I haven’t looked too closely at how Pete has been flying this week, but our plan is to just fly the same way we have all week. If we can do that and be consistent, we’ll be fine,” the Aussie affirmed.

“Today in qualifying we had two solid runs. We never really hang it all out there in qualifying, there is no real advantage to doing that and making a mistake because you push too hard. When mistakes happen in qualifying, you just go to bed overthinking everything.

“We had two smooth and easy qualifying efforts today, I am happy with where we finished, and we can go a little faster tomorrow.”

While a face-off with McLeod might be Hall’s immediate battle in tomorrow’s race, the real focus will be on the race for the world title. Neither Goulian, Šonka or Hall have lifted the air race world championship trophy before, although the latter two have both finished runner up in previous years.

Even with the experience of fighting for the title in both 2015 and 2016, Hall admitted to mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness ahead of tomorrow’s showdown.

“I am looking forward to tomorrow. But to be honest, like everyone racing for a world championship, we’re also looking forward to the relief of it being over,” Hall conceded.

“Regardless, it will be an exciting day.”

The final stanza of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship will take place tomorrow, Sunday November 18 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, USA. Action kicks off with the Round of 14 at 1pm local time/6am AEDT.

Hall will be the second pilot into the track after McLeod. Australian fans can watch the race at the following link: www.redbullairrace.com/live

Fort Worth qualifying results:

  1. Matthias Dolderer (GER): 50.614
  2. Martin Šonka (CZE): +0.262
  3. François Le Vot (FRA): +0.396
  4. Kirby Chambliss (USA): +0.413
  5. Matt Hall (AUS): +0.670
  6. Cristian Bolton (CHL): +0.753
  7. Yoshihide Muroya (JAP): +0.957
  8. Petr Kopfstein (CZE): +0.982
  9. Michael Goulian (USA): +1.094
  10. Pete McLeod (CAN): +1.264
  11. Mika Brageot (FRA): +1.476
  12. Ben Murphy (GBR): +1.916
  13. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA): +2.569
  14. Juan Velarde (ESP): +2.571

Cover pic: Mihai Stetcu/Red Bull Content Pool