Hall returns to Germany to defend Red Bull Air Race victory on high speed track

Australian pilot Matt Hall knows a thing or two about winning Red Bull Air Race events on tracks flown over land, all four of his career triumphs have occurred over solid ground, and this weekend he returns to the Eurospeedway Lausitz, Germany to defend his 2016 victory.

The Red Bull Air Race, normally characterised by planes racing through air gates over glistening water in beautiful cities, will cap off 2017 with two stadium-style races held within motor racing precincts. The first is this weekend at the high risk, high reward track in Germany, before a mid-October trip to the USA for the season-ending event at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

While the statistics for land-based races might favour a Hall win, the Aussie will take a more pragmatic approach to the penultimate race of the 2018 season. After claiming third place a fortnight ago in Porto, Portugal, he said a fast plane matched with technical precision will be the recipe for success this time around.

“The Lausitzring is a high-speed track with different lines, and it is much more technical than Porto was,” Hall said.

“This weekend the track will have three places that will either bite you, or carry you all the way to the podium. The first is between gates two and three, which set you up for a good line into gate four and the subsequent chicane at five.

“Following that is the high-G vertical turn manoeuvre. If you’re too soft on the G-limit here you can count yourself out, but if you’re over-assertive you could just as easily be out of the running by exceeding the G-limit.

“It’s a fine balance. Although a fast plane is nice and pure speed has delivered results for some this season, this race will demand meticulous attention to the technical detail.”

While 2016 saw Hall blitz the field to win by almost a second over hometown hero Matthias Dolderer, he comes into this year’s event realistic about his chances of second-straight win in Lausitz.

“We get great crowds in Germany and this is a thrilling track. Coming in as the defending winner I think we have the potential to win again, but our game plan will be to fly clean and continue pushing harder this second half of the season,” he said.

“A podium last race in Porto was nice, but it would be inaccurate to call it a confidence booster. This season has been about re-building with new team members and a new plane, and our last result reaffirmed that our strategy ever since our slow start to the new year in February has been the right one.”

Currently seventh in the standings, Hall will again look to challenge the four 2018 title heavyweights – leader Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic, Canadian Pete McLeod, veteran American Kirby Chambliss and Japanese hero Yoshi Muroya.

This weekend’s event kicks off with qualifying on Saturday September 16 at 4pm local time – 12am AEST, Sunday September 17 in Australia. The main event will burst into action at 1pm local time on Sunday, 9pm AEST.

You can watch the event LIVE and FREE at www.redbullairrace.com/live