Complacency costs Hall victory, championship lead in Russia 

The 2018 script took a wayward turn for Australian pilot Matt Hall at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Kazan, Russia today, as he finished seventh while title rivals Martin Šonka (CZE) and Michael Goulian (USA) flew to first and second.

Hall had commenced race day on the back foot following a ninth-place qualification that left the team scrambling to rectify engine anomalies. After little sleep and hours of trouble shooting, the Newcastle local and his team had their plane ready just in time for the race. The weekend looked to be back on track.

After flying comfortably to the second-best time in the race opening Round of 14, Hall then faced off against Spanish pilot Juan Velarde in the second-stage knockout, the Round of 8. While Velarde’s time was strong, Hall came thundering into the race track and was looking likely to fly the fastest time of the day.

But with the knowledge that he was on a good time, Hall allowed himself to relax and in that moment all his hard work unravelled. Coming through the last gate before the finish the Aussie clipped a pylon and incurred a three-second penalty, a winning result went begging and he was knocked out of the race.

“My flight was on rails, I knew it was a good time and I hit all my marks and the VTM [vertical turning manoeuvre) …I knew I nailed it,” Hall lamented.

“Then I was on the back straight and just relaxed thinking I had it in the bag. Then I over-pulled the final turn and I saw the gate and thought, ‘yep I’m going to hit that’. There was nothing I could do about it at that point.

“So, I saw it coming and just had to go through it.”

The result means that Hall, who had come into the Russian race with a slender two-point lead in the world championship standings now sits third six points behind Goulian, and equal on points with Šonka. Despite the setback, the Aussie found positives as he looked ahead to the final three races of the season.

“There are still races to come. I am happy with how I’m flying, I’m happy with how the team has the plane going…the plane is rockin’. Today was a hiccup, it was our bad race for the year,” Hall reassured.

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship now moves to the Austrian city of Wiener Neustadt, located south of the national capital Vienna, for the sixth race of the season. That event will take place on the weekend of September 15-16.

Race result Kazan, Russia

  1. Martin Šonka (CZE)
  2. Michael Goulian (USA)
  3. Kirby Chambliss (USA)
  4. Juan Velarde (ESP)
  5. Ben Murphy (GBR)
  6. François Le Vot (FRA)
  7. Matt Hall (AUS)  
  8. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN)
  9. Petr Kopfstein (CZE)
  10. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA)
  11. Pete McLeod (CAN)
  12. Mika Brageot (FRA)
  13. Matthias Dolderer (GER)
  14. Christian Bolton (CHI)

Current world championship standings

  1. Michael Goulian (USA) 55
  2. Martin Šonka (CZE) 49
  3. Matt Hall (AUS) 49
  4. Mika Brageot (FRA) 27
  5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 22
  6. François Le Vot (FRA) 20
  7. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 19
  8. Juan Velarde (ESP) 16
  9. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 15
  10. Ben Murphy (GBR) 15
  11. Pete McLeod (CAN) 11
  12. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 10
  13. Christian Bolton (CHI) 6
  14. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 6

PIC: Dimitry Tibekin/Red bull Content Pool