Kazan, Russia: Hall sets up third consecutive battle with Japanese pilot Muroya
Australia’s Matt Hall has qualified sixth for the inaugural Red Bull Air Race event in Kazan, Russia, setting up a showdown in tomorrow’s opening ‘Round of 14’ with championship leader Yoshi Muroya of Japan – their third head-to-head battle in as many races.
Unpredictable conditions greeted the pilots for qualifying day, one that saw 20 pylon hits in the final practice session and nine pilots record penalties during qualifying. Despite this, it was Canada’s Pete McLeod who eventually finished first – for the third successive event – with an alien performance that smashed the lap record.
The previous benchmark had been set just two hours prior by Hall in the final practice, highlighting his progress with his new aircraft. Although the Aussie couldn’t repeat his record-breaking feat, he did achieve his objective of recording two clean and consistent efforts.
“The conditions changed throughout the session and people took a lot of risk to achieve good times, on fast lines, but it is hard to maintain consistency like we were able to do,” Hall reflected.
“To be completely honest I was a little disappointed with our time, but happy with how I flew the plane. We were clean and we know where our time was missing, and we also had a minor issue with tape coming off and causing drag today.
“We can go faster, we were fastest and had set the previous lap record in practice. But flying against Yoshi tomorrow will be challenging.”
At the top of the results list McLeod’s time was just shy of two-seconds clear of second placed Martin Šonka, while in third was French pilot Nicolas Ivanoff. Light-years ahead of his competitors, McLeod enlisted a high-risk, high-reward line that other pilots simply had not been game to attempt.
“Obviously Pete flew well, and his plane is going really well,” Hall added.
“This track is challenging to get through when the conditions are good, let alone when there is wind. The fastest line here endears itself to pylon hits, so there is a lot of risk involved with every lap.”
Sunday’s main event will begin just prior to 9pm AEST with the Round of 14. Should Hall produce a faster time than Muroya, who qualified ninth today, he will then advance to the Round of 8. The fastest four pilots from that heat will make the cut for the Final Four showdown.
Coverage of the event will commence with the second-tier Challenger Cup at 7.55pm AEST on Sunday July 23, with the Master Class pilots to fly directly after.
The event can be viewed LIVE in Australia at the following link: www.redbullairrace.com/live
- Pete McLeod (CAN): 54.562
- Martin Šonka (CZE): 56.339
- Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA): 56.450
- Kirby Chambliss (USA): 56.703
- Mike Goulian: (USA): 56.837
- Matt Hall (AUS): 57.068