Hall soars to fourth in qualifying for second Red Bull Air Race of 2017
Australia’s Matt Hall has finished fourth in qualifying for the second event of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in San Diego, California and now eyes a showdown with Slovenian pilot Peter Podlunšek in tomorrow’s main event.
After enduring a testing opening race with a speed-deficient rental aircraft in Abu Dhabi, Hall arrived in Southern California with a new aircraft that he expects can be developed into a winner throughout the season.
Holding modest expectations ahead of today’s qualifying session, Hall was slightly taken aback with his top four placing and noted the good progress made in just a short space of time with a new aircraft. Despite the strong showing, the Aussie remains cautious while adapting to a brand new aircraft.
“I was surprised that we’re catching up so quickly. We started the first session backed right off [on the pace]. We’re now starting to push it a bit harder,” Hall said.
“I’m starting to feel more at home in this new plane. In our second run in the session today I tried to push it up against the line a little bit more, but as I did that my flying started to degrade slightly. So I’m still aware that it’s a new aircraft and it’s not as natural as my old MXS-R was to me, but we’ll fix that.
While there are no points for the winner of qualifying, the improved pace and higher standing in the field has instilled confidence in Hall ahead of tomorrow’s all-important race.
“We probably still have a little bit more left in us. If we can get to the final round of racing, and who knows if we do or not? But if we do, we have a bit left in the tank and I can take a few more chances,” he said.
Fastest qualifier was reigning world champion Matthias Dolderer of Germany, American Mike Goulian finished second and championship leader Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic third.
Racing in San Diego begins tomorrow with the head to head Round of 14 heats. The seven winning pilots, as well as the fastest loser, will progress to the ‘Round of 8’. Then the four winners will move onto the ‘Final 4’, which is full gas shootout for victory.
Hall will first face Podlunšek in the Round of 14, with the broadcast commencing at 5am AEST, racing just prior to 6am Monday morning. The event can be viewed LIVE at www.redbullairrace.com/live.