Hall celebrates birthday with qualifying win at Red Bull Air Race Germany
Australian pilot Matt Hall has continued his affinity with the Eurospeedway Lausitz in Germany, by screaming to first place in qualifying for the seventh round of the World Championship, getting the job done on his 46th birthday.
Wind back the clock to 2016, and it was Hall who was untouchable as he claimed first place on race day, beating German hero Matthias Dolderer on the way. Fast forward to qualifying in 2017 and it was Hall who again sent a message to the rest of the field, this time in the curtain raiser to the main course.
Although no points are awarded for qualifying day, Hall was visibly pumped as he crossed the finish line, saying he felt a mixture of joy and validation knowing that everything is slowly falling into place after a disrupted year.
“It was a really great feeling (in the plane) and it just reinforced that the plane is going well, I’m flying well and the team is going well. It was just such a great feeling to have everything finally pull into line after a really tough year for us,” Hall said.
“Our team started the year flying a rental plane, then we got our new plane for round two and since then it has been a bit of a grind. After sticking to our strategy, as painful as it has been at times, it is starting to pay off.
“It’s also nice when you have a team who hold their faith in you during these tougher times, and even though today wasn’t points paying, it was nice to reward these guys.”
Flying seventh of 14 pilots, a reflection of Hall’s current championship standing, he had a time of 51.118 set by American Mike Goulian to beat. With two efforts at his disposal, Hall eclipsed Goulian on his first flight through the track, before laying down the session winning race against the clock on his second run.
“That’s the best time I have done in the track all weekend,” Hall beamed.
“This series has some seriously good pilots out there, and there are five or six guys that can win this event. After I put down safe ‘banking’ time in my first qualifying run, I really went for it in the second lap and it just felt great. The plane was just on song.”
Following Hall on the results list was Czech pilot Petr Kopfstein (50.299), who continues to show glimpses of his potential. World championship hopeful Yoshi Muroya (50.400) of Japan finished third, American Kirby Chambliss (50.472) fourth, while series leader Martin Šonka (50.733) rounded out the top five.
Tomorrow the main event will commence with the Round of 14, which sees pilots fly in head-to-head duals in the hope of progressing to the second stage Round of 8, and then race-deciding Final 4. Hall will fly against Chilean pilot Cristian Bolton in the first instance.
The main event will begin at 1pm local time, 9pm AEST on Sunday September 17.
Australian fans can watch it LIVE at www.redbullairrace.com/live