Don’t look at the form card in Budapest for Aussie pilot Matt Hall
Australian Matt Hall knows what it is like to be one of the fastest pilots to negotiate the high-speed chicaning air race track over the Danube in Budapest, he’s set scorching times the last two times the Red Bull Air Race World Championship has visited.
But there will be no predictions of qualifying wins, or podium finishes for Hall when the world’s fastest motorsport series lands in Budapest this weekend. His season is aimed at developing a new aircraft, and that means the Newcastle local comes into the weekend blind to what results might be possible.
Being in the unknown is unchartered territory for Hall, who has always been fast in Budapest – even if the only notable result at the location was a third place finish last season. However, with the arrival of a new aircraft just two races ago, the Aussie will not be sure where he stands among the 2017 air race cohort in Budapest until a lap is flown in anger.
“We have never got a result that befits the potential we have shown in Budapest. I think we’ve had the plane to win there in the past, we’ve always been fast,” Hall said.
Pre-event aerodynamic testing has been a priority in the lead up to the Budapest round
“But this year I have no idea how we will go with our new plane, it’s a blank canvas.
“This new machine is not as fast as our old one in a straight line, but we are working on that and have a few upgrades for this event with engine cooling and wing aerodynamics. I’m feeling confident after a handful of test flights.
“We may not be as fast yet, but this plane is easier to fly and it rolls much faster than my old one, which means I can cut it a lot closer to the pylons in the track before levelling out. And my visibility is improved.”
While improved speed might be the priority ahead of this weekend’s event in the Hungarian capital, pilot comfort will also play a pivotal role in assisting Hall to produce the best possible performance come Sunday.
“Making the cockpit more comfortable for me is probably a little more important to developing this plane than you first think,” Hall emphasises.
“Part of learning an entirely new aircraft is retraining your muscles to instinctively react to what the plane is doing. Changing specific items such as the layout of our switches will help that process, and hopefully allow me to focus on flying as fast, efficiently and error free as possible.
“Everything might be a little unknown at this point, but we are definitely on the right track to returning to our best form.”
The fourth round of the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes place this weekend in Budapest, Hungary. Saturday July 1 will see all 14 pilots take to the track for qualifying, before the race opening Round of 14 on Sunday, July 2.
You can watch the event LIVE and FREE, a schedule is below. The live stream link is here: www.redbullairrace.com/live
QUALIFYING: 12am AEST, Sunday July 2
RACE DAY: 10pm AEST, Sunday July 2