Hall scorches to second straight Red Bull Air Race qualifying win

For the second Red Bull Air Race event in a row Aussie Matt Hall has stopped the clocks in qualifying faster than any other pilot, scorching to a victory above hallowed motorsport turf at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana, USA.

As Hall marked his territory as top dog in a time of 1:04.149, it was Czech pilot Petr Kopfstein (1:04.390) in second, while Spaniard Juan Velarde (1:05.400) was third. Meanwhile the four pilots in the race for the world championship title had mixed days.

Fellow Czech pilot and championship leader Martin Šonka finished fourth, while Canadian Pete McLeod was in fifth, solid results. But it was a disastrous day for Japan’s Yoshi Muroya – second in the championship – who finished 11th, while American hero Kirby Chambliss was more than three seconds behind Hall in 12th place.

The results set up a tantalising day of action for tomorrow’s main race. With early showers predicted to clear prior to race start. From there the day will turn into a tale of two battles as Hall, Kopfstein, Velarde et. al. race for a top result to end their seasons.

The four aforementioned pilots will sweat it out in the championship battle.

Out of the championship hunt, but sitting a credible fifth in the standings following a turbulent season of aircraft changes and team changes, Hall is focused on finishing on a high, and carrying that momentum into 2018.

“There is no secret to what we have been doing at Indy this weekend, as always we are focused on being consistent and smooth and flying the same fast line,” Hall said.

“From the start of the week we haven’t hidden the fact that we would like to win here, and today puts us in good stead for tomorrow. This weekend is about setting ourselves up for a strong 2018.”

After spending the first half of the season testing his new aircraft, Hall labelled 2018 as a year of ‘progression’, and even in today’s qualifying effort the learning didn’t stop.

“This year has been a year of progression, we’ve taken a new plane out of the box and developed it into something we like competing with,” Hall continued.

“We had a good flight in the first qualifying run, and that set up today’s win. With that strong time in the bag, I really gave it a big effort for my second attempt and pushed our plane harder than I have before.

“Unfortunately, the result of that was a little tickle on the G-stall at the top of the vertical turn manoeuvre, and that knocked out all our speed. But we learnt something yet again, and we will improve again.”

Tomorrow’s racing will begin with the head-to-head Round of 14, where Hall will race against Chilean pilot Cristian Bolton. Should he win that heat, he will progress to the second stage Round of 8. The fastest four pilots from that session will race for the victory in the Final Four.

In the second tier Red Bull Air Race Challenger Series a slice of history was claimed today, as French pilot Melanie Astles became the first female to win a qualifying session.

Racing commences for the final time this season at 1pm local time on Sunday October 15, or 4am AEDT on Monday October 16 for Aussie fans.

Aussie fans can follow all the action at the following link: www.redbullairrace.com/live