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Penalties cruel fast man Hall

Australia’s Matt Hall is set to take part in a blockbuster first round heat against former Red Bull Air Race World Champion Yoshihide Muroya of Japan, in tomorrow’s third event of 2019 in Lake Balaton, Hungary.

It was a case of ‘what could have been’ for Hall in today’s qualifying session, after the Aussie uncharacteristically incurred a string of penalties during both his runs. Having finished first in the weekend’s only practice session earlier in the day, Hall was again on the money in qualifying and looked to be setting the winning pace. But penalties quelled any chance of the Aussie finishing first and also scuppered his hopes of earning the three bonus points awarded to the qualifying winner.

For Muroya, like Hall, it was penalties that upset the apple cart for the 2017 champ and 2019 series leader. After initially believing he had finished third, a penalty applied post landing sent the popular Japanese pilot tumbling down the order to be ranked ninth.

As a result, Hall and Muroya will face off in a head-to-head battle in tomorrow’s race opening Round of 14. The encounter will conjure up memories of last year’s race in Japan, where the two men also locked horns in the opening round. On that occasion the upper hand went to the Hall, who converted a first-round win into race victory.

Irrespective of missing the top prize today, Hall remained confident that he has the ability and equipment to challenge for his first race win of 2019 tomorrow.

“After receiving penalties for crossing the crowd safety line and clipping a pylon by a small margin in my first run, I backed right off in my second qualifying attempt,” Hall said.

“In that second run I wound back the angle through the gates, because I had a high angle in the first run which got me a crowd line penalty, and I tried to back off the angle into the second gate where I hit that pylon as well. But by backing off the angle I pulled a little bit too hard because I had more speed on it, which caused me to Over G.

“My gut feel is that we are looking good for tomorrow, we didn’t get the points in qualifying, but I am happy I can still win the race.

“I know I can go fast; I know the plane is fast and I can fly a fast line. I just have to get it right on the day.”

Finishing top of the pile today was reigning series champion Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic, with Spaniard Juan Velarde impressing early on to hold down second place come the end of the day. Third was Frenchman Mika Brageot, who continued a purple patch of form that began when he claimed first place in qualifying last month in Kazan, Russia.

The third and penultimate race of the 2019 world championship series commences at 1pm local time/9pm AEST tomorrow. After the Round of 14, the seven winners and fastest of all the losers will progress to the Round of 8.

From that second round, the fastest four pilots will qualify for the ‘Final 4’, a four-way shootout for victory.

Australian fans can watch the race LIVE online at www.redbullairrace.com/live

LAKE BALATON QUALIFYING RESULTS

  1. Martin Šonka (CZE) – 57.820
  2. Juan Velarde (ESP) +0.383
  3. Mika Brageot (FRA) +1.027
  4. Ben Murphy (GBR) +1.033
  5. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) +1.245
  6. Matt Hall (AUS) +1.360
  7. Michael Goulian (USA) +1.664
  8. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) +1.786
  9. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) +2.026
  10. Pete McLeod (CAN) +2.051
  11. François Le Vot (FRA) +2.285
  12. Kirby Chambliss (USA) +2.322
  13. Cristian Bolton (CHI) +2.643
  14. Matthias Dolderer (GER) +2.672

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

  1. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) – 53
  2. Martin Šonka (CZE) – 47
  3. Matt Hall (AUS) – 36
  4. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) – 30
  5. Mika Brageot (FRA) – 27
  6. Michael Goulian (USA) – 25
  7. François Le Vot (FRA) – 21
  8. Juan Velarde (ESP) – 18
  9. Ben Murphy (GBR) – 15
  10. Cristian Bolton (CHI) – 13
  11. Kirby Chambliss (USA) – 13
  12. Pete McLeod (CAN) – 10
  13. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) – 5
  14. Matthias Dolderer (GER) – 3