New plane to kick start 2017 Red Bull Air Race campaign for in-form Hall
Australian pilot Matt Hall is brimming with optimism ahead of the second race of the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, as he prepares to debut the aircraft that he hopes will return him to race-winning contention on a regular basis.
This year’s series started with a surprise result for Hall in Abu Dhabi, the Novocastrian carried a speed deficient rental aircraft into the championship top 10. Surprising onlookers, the result signified strong teamwork and set tongues wagging about the potential performance of the team’s newly delivered Edge 540 V3 raceplane.
Following a five-season romance with his successful MXS-R racer, Hall has made the switch to the Edge 540 aircraft. It’s a proven championship winner, and one that is now used by all pilots except for French pilot Mikaël Brageot. As excited as Hall is for his new plane, he is utilising all of his racing experience to remain realistic about his possible result ahead of the San Diego race.
“I think this new plane has all the ingredients to be a winner, and it may already be a winner,” Hall said.
“But until we get it in the track, get all the bugs out of it, like you need to do with anything new, and work them out of the system we don’t know how it will go.
“But it definitely has the ability to be a race winner. From the flying I have done in it so far, I think I am going to settle into it quite well.”
While the plane used in the first race of the year may have been off the pace, tenth and one world championship point reflected Hall’s smooth and intuitive style of flying. Coming into the second race of the season, he said he feels in good touch behind the controls.
“So far I am flying quite well in 2017,” he said.
“I’m in much better health than I was last year. I haven’t been injured, whereas at the majority of races last year I was injured or ill. So I’m feeling good, upbeat!”
With this weekend’s race in San Diego signifying the true start of Hall’s push for a maiden world championship, he noted that the new aircraft represents a blank canvas and that this weekend will be just the first chapter.
“The new Edge 540 has more development potential at the moment because it’s lighter than the MXS-R was after we finished all the modifications on it,” Hall said excitedly.
“This plane has a lot of left in it to be unlocked, so we can look at doing plenty of mods into the future with it.”
The second event of the Red Bull Air Race world championship begins with practice on Friday April 14, with qualifying and then the main event to follow on Saturday April 15 and Sunday April 17, dates all in local time. For Australian viewers the event will be broadcast online at live.redbullairrace.com on Easter Monday.