Hall wrangles rental to 13th in qualifying at Red Bull Air Race Abu Dhabi

Australia’s only Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall has finished 13th in qualifying at the first race of the 2017 Red Bull Air Race season, with Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic finishing first in Abu Dhabi.

Racing a 2006 Zivko Edge V2 rental aircraft as he awaits delivery of his new Zivko Edge 540 V3 next month, Hall entered the qualifying session aware that he had a significant speed deficiency compared to his peers, and aimed to race between the pylons as cleanly as possible.

While today’s result is a far cry from Hall’s last visit to the Arabian Gulf 12 months ago when he finished atop the time sheets in qualifying, the Aussie said that today’s outcome met his earlier estimations.

“Everything went as planned and as expected,” Hall said.

“Normally we don’t rely on luck, but with our current speed capabilities we will ask for a lot of it tomorrow.

“I think the only way we will get through the Round of 14 is if someone else makes a mistake, fingers crossed.

“As a team we’re relaxed and doing as much learning as we can. Come tomorrow we’ll stick to our plan of flying as smoothly as possible and see where we end up.”

Despite a minor penalty in his first of two qualifying runs through the track today, Hall reset his composure to fly smoothly in his second attempt. As a result he will now fly against today’s second ranked pilot, Mike Goulian of the USA in the Round of 14.

With Sonka and Goulian claiming the top two spots, third belonged to two-time Red Bull Air Race champion Kirby Chambliss, fourth Canada’s Pete McLeod, with Spaniard Juan Velarde rounding out the top five.

It was a troubled afternoon for reigning world champion Matthias Dolderer of Germany, who was given two penalties, including a pylon hit in his first run, inevitably finishing in 11th place.

The season opening Abu Dhabi Red Bull Air Race continues on Saturday February 11 with coverage of the Round of 14 commencing at 8pm AEDT.

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