Hall looking to back-up French Red Bull Air Race victory in Japan
Australia’s Matt Hall will be aiming to maintain momentum from his victory at last month’s French stop of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, when 14 of the world’s fastest pilots take to the sky above Tokyo Bay in Chiba, Japan for the third round of the series this weekend.
Victory in Cannes on the French Riviera was a breakthrough result for Hall, who had gone 595 days without climbing the top step of the podium. To get there, he beat 2016 world champion Matthias Dolderer of Germany and current championship leader Michael Goulian of the USA.
Both Dolderer and Goulian are expected to again be tough opponents when this weekend’s third round of the 2018 world championship takes off. However, Hall’s toughest adversary will be Japanese pilot Yoshihide Muroya, who returns to his homeland as the two-time defending race winner and world champion.
Despite the overwhelming favouritism for Muroya, Hall will come into Sunday’s race confident he can arrest the dominant form of his Japanese contemporary and produce another strong result.
“We’re probably in the strongest position we’ve ever been in this early in the season,” Hall said.
“This is the first time our team has ever had a race win this early in the season, and so we’re coming into the race in Japan reasonably confident. We’ve had mixed results here in the past, second is our best result, but we’ve never had a win.
“All in all, we’re happy that we should be able to maintain the momentum we’ve got, but who knows if that will be good enough for a race win in Chiba? Regardless, I think we can challenge for a good result.”
Although modest on predicting what result could be achieved in Japan this weekend, Hall will race into the track unintimidated by his 13 rivals. He’s confident that his win in Cannes was no fluke and said he has the experience and team to take on anyone come race day.
“I’m pretty relaxed about this race actually,” Hall said.
“In France we proved that we can win with our new plane and a new team. We’ve been consistent for a while now and we’ve finally got that first victory together. That says to me that we don’t have to be worried about who I’m racing against and that the others should instead be worried about racing against me.”
With the third round of the series looming, the pecking order of the 2018 series is beginning to take shape and Hall is right in the mix. He sits second in the standings, three points in arrears of Goulian, with Muroya third and Dolderer fourth. This weekend could prove pivotal in earmarking who the combatants will be for the world title in 2018.
Red Bull Air Race Chiba begins with practice sessions on Friday May 25, before qualifying takes place on Saturday May 26. Qualifying begins at 4pm local time (5pm AEST), with Hall scheduled to enter the track just after 5:10pm local time (6:10pm AEST).
Qualifying will be LIVE on www.redbullairrace.com/live.
Sunday will see the main race begin with the head-to-head Round of 14, which will be LIVE on Fox Sports channel 506 from 3pm – 4pm AEST. The second stage Round of 8 as well as the dash for victory – the Final 4 – will be live on Fox Sports 506 from 5pm AEST.
Those without a Foxtel subscription will be able to watch the race LIVE on www.redbullairrace.com/live.