HALL: FOCUSED ON FIGHTING FIT FOR CHIBA
An injury flare-up at the last stop in Spielberg could have contributed to a slow season start for the Australian air race pilot.
In 2015, Matt Hall was a World Championship frontrunner, pushing the eventual World Champion Paul Bonhomme to his limits out in the racetrack. But Hall appears to have had a slow start to his 2016 title bid, currently 8th place overall in the rankings with just 8 points under his belt.
Despite consistently finishing in the top 3 during Spielberg’s Training and Qualifying sessions, the Australian appeared to struggle with his form on Race Day in Austria. He failed to progress through to the Final 4, losing to Pete McLeod in the Round of 8 by 0.330s. But Hall’s earlier flying session results suggest that there could be more to the story than just an underwhelming performance or a loss of focus.
The former military pilot reported a flare up of a neck, shoulder blade and upper back injury on Race Day. In normal circumstances, this might be an otherwise relatively minor complaint, but the Red Bull Air Race pilots subject to up to 10G in the cockpit, the effects of the flare up can be compounded under these immense forces.
“I’m loathe to have my injury used as an excuse for any result but there’s little doubt that it affected the way I could pull G,” Hall said after wrapping up the second World Championship stop. “Would that have made a difference to my result? Who knows – and it’s not worth worrying about now. We are only looking ahead to the next race,” he added.
The injury is not something new for Hall – he previously sought treatment for the same problem at the Fort Worth race last year. And like many pilots, he has regular physio and chiro treatment to combat the effects of G-force and long haul travel. Looking forward, the plan is to continue treatment with a more focused exercise plan for the neck, shoulder blade and upper back:
“In Spielberg, Daniel Rose, the Red Bull Air Race physio, did an amazing job of getting me into a position to be able to race and I’m very grateful for that,” Hall explains. “Since I have been home and in the coming weeks I will be working hard to strengthen the area of my back and free up that pain.”
The team believes that this latest flare up of the injury could be down to a combination of long-haul travel and a slight adjustment to Hall’s aircraft setup and seat position. In Spielberg, the adjustment meant that Hall was leaning forward a very small amount, but under G that small degree of difference was amplified and increased the strain in that area significantly.
As a result, the team will be making some subtle changes to the seating position for Chiba. And Hall’s team Operations Manager Dave Lyall has reported that since returning home, Hall has had some positive treatment, and flew in an airshow with no further issues.
Now, the Australian is determined to head into Chiba fighting fit, ready to take his World Champion season up a gear:
“That will be my 100 per cent focus over the next month, arriving in Chiba healthy,” Hall says. “We are pretty confident that by then this will all be sorted out and I can be back somewhere near my best.”
Story via www.redbullairrace.com