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Hall ninth, Frenchman Brageot wins Kazan qualifying

Matt Hall will have homework to do ahead of tomorrow’s second race of the 2019 Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Kazan, Russia, after qualifying ninth. Top of the times was Mika Brageot, the Frenchman surprising many as he stormed to victory in track record time.

Hall, who is chasing his first ever win in Russia came into today’s qualifying session buoyed by strong times during the opening three practice sessions. But come qualifying, the former air force fighter pilot was left searching for almost two seconds, the difference between himself and Brageot.

When the main event kicks off over the Volga River in the heart of Kazan tomorrow, Hall’s first task will be beating American Michael Goulian. Last season Goulian and Hall were two of the main protagonists in the hunt for the world title, which eventually went to Czech pilot Martin Šonka. Tomorrow both the American and the Australian will simply hope to make it past the first stage of the race.

Sunday will commence with the Round of 14, a head-to-head knock out round of seven heats. The winners, as well as the fastest loser, will progress to the Round of 8, before the four pilots with the quickest times in that session fly in a shootout for victory.

With plenty of questions needing an answer before Hall can contemplate earning a spot among the four fastest pilots on Sunday, the Aussie said he he would need to look to his data for an answer as to where he gave away time during qualifying.

“I came out of the track both times thinking it would be a personal best, I flew smoothly, put the plane exactly where I wanted it and I was at the G-limit I wanted. Both times, they were consistent runs, but they clearly weren’t getting any traction to get close to the other guys,” a downbeat Hall said.

“I heard Mika’s time as he came out of the track and I thought to myself ‘it’s a fast track’. So, when I completed my first run, I thought it would be a low one minute two seconds. But to be in the mid one minute three second mark was quite disappointing.

“We’ve got to look at where we lost time and whether or not it was an environmental issue with wind – we did see a lot of variation in the times out there today. We also need to look to see if I was off my line somewhere. Regardless, there is definitely something we need to find because there is no way we can win this race with my times from today.

“I’m confident we can find it, it’s just a matter of if we can catch the fastest guys.”

Come race day, Hall will be looking to move up the field, and in the process better his results of sixth and seventh in Kazan from the past two years. Last season Hall looked to be in the hunt for victory until an untimely pylon hit ended his race in the Round of 8.

Rounding out the top three in today’s qualification session was reigning world champion Šonka in second, and fellow French pilot François Le Vot third. Both pilots and winner Brageot collected world championship points for their efforts, Brageot three, Šonka two and Le Vot one.

The hard luck story of the day belonged to 2016 world champion Matthias Dolderer of Germany, who hit a pylon with such force that it has damaged his aircraft beyond short-term repair. As a result, he will not fly in tomorrow’s race.

Action on Sunday June 16 begins with the Round of 14 at 2pm local time, 9pm AEDT. The race will be the last in Russia and the third last Red Bull Air Race before the series is wound up in September.

Australian fans can watch the all the action LIVE on www.redbullairrace.com/live

QUALIFYING RESULTS:

  1. Mika Brageot (FRA): 1:01.431
  2. Martin Šonka (CZE): +0.152
  3. François Le Vot (FRA): +0.405
  4. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN): +0.513
  5. Petr Kopfstein (CZE): +1.078
  6. Michael Goulian (USA): +1.488
  7. Cristian Bolton (CHI): +1.661
  8. Pete McLeod (CAN): 1.836
  9. Matt Hall (AUS): +1.911
  10. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA): +2.036
  11. Ben Murphy (GBR): +2.437
  12. Kirby Chambliss (USA): +3.194
  13. Juan Velarde (ESP): +3.305
  14. Matthias Dolderer (GER): +3.929