Hall’s date with destiny set

Australia’s fastest pilot Matt Hall is in the midst of a watershed Red Bull Air Race World Championship season. The Newcastle local leads the series for the first time in his 45-race career, and with the location of the final race announced as the Texas Motor Speedway overnight, he’s aiming to claim his maiden world title on USA soil.

Typically the playground of NASCAR and IndyCar racing, the superspeedway located in the city of Fort Worth will transform itself into an aviation mecca from November 17-18. In tow will be 14 of the world’s best pilots vying for one last slice of glory in the eighth race of the season.

The 2018 Red Bull Air Race season is currently at its midpoint after four races, and it is Hall who has established himself as the man to beat thanks to race wins in France and Japan. In hot pursuit of the Aussie is Michael Goulian (USA) and Martin Šonka (Czech Republic), who are two and 11 points in arrears of the Australian respectively.

While Hall and his all-Aussie team were expected to be title heavyweights in 2018, the surprise has been Goulian. The Massachusetts-born pilot is having a career-best season and along with 2017 series runner-up Šonka, poses the most serious threat to Hall walking away from Texas as a world champion for the first time.

But if form at a location is anything to go by, Hall will be confident ahead of the 2018 edition of the Texas race. The last time the series visited he was narrowly beaten to victory by the sport’s greatest ever pilot, the now retired Brit Paul Bonhomme, and Hall is eager to return to the venue for another bite at the cherry in November.

“It’s good to be returning to Texas, I always like being at a race venue that I have been to previously. It means I know the location, the environment and I think that will help,” Hall said.

“We’ve raced twice in Texas before, the first time was 2014 when the series first resumed after a three-year break and we were really finding our feet that year. The second year we flew well in Texas and we think this race will again be one reasonably well suited to us.”

In less than five weeks the 2018 world championship will resume in Kazan, Russia from August 25-26, and his status as the leader of the title race isn’t something that is fazing Hall.

“It’s nice to be leading the championship, but I’m not really thinking about it to be honest,” he said.

“We arrive at each race with the aim to get the best result that we possibly can. We only let the championship scenario enter our head if we make it to the Final 4 of a race, and then we make a strategic decision and decide if we race for the win or race for points.”

The 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship is shown LIVE on Fox Sports Australia and on replay with TEN Motorsport.

Red Bull Air Race 2018 Calendar
2-3 February:                Abu Dhabi, UAE
20-22 April:                  Cannes, France
26-27 May:                   Chiba, Japan
23-24 June:                  Budapest, Hungary
25-26 August:               Kazan, Russia

15-16 September:        Wiener Neustadt, Austria
6-7 October:                 Indianapolis, USA
17-18 November:         Fort Worth, USA

Current world championship standings

  1. Matt Hall (AUS) 45
  2. Michael Goulian (USA) 43
  3. Martin Šonka (CZE) 34
  4. Mika Brageot (FRA) 27
  5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 19
  6. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 15
  7. François Le Vot (FRA) 15
  8. Pete McLeod (CAN) 11
  9. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 10
  10. Juan Velarde (ESP) 9
  11. Ben Murphy (GBR) 9
  12. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 8
  13. Christian Bolton (CHI) 6
  14. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 5

Cover pic: Balzs Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool