RBAR BUDAPEST: HALL RETURNS TO RED BULL AIR RACE PODIUM
Australian Top Gun Matt Hall has finished third in the rain effected fourth round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday.
The weather that had forced the cancellation of Saturday’s qualifying session continued to plague the event with a number of delays throughout the day meaning the overall result was determined from the round of 8, the competition unable to progress to the final 4.
The result saw Hall climb onto the podium for the first time this season and propels the former RAAF fighter pilot forward one position to seventh in the overall world championship standings after what has been a slow start to 2016.
The race was taken out by German Matthias Dolderer, ahead of former world champion Austrian Hannes Arch. The victory was Dolderer’s second of the season and he now holds a runaway 15.25 point lead in the standings, having amassed 41.25 points to Arch’s 26. Hall has 18.75 but sits well within striking distance of five of the six pilots ahead of him.
The victory over Sonka was some consolation for the Budapest race last year when Hall was dominating the field all week, clocking the fastest time in all training sessions, winning qualifying and posting the quickest time in the round of 14 before running into a white hot Sonka in the round of 8 and being jettisoned from the competition.
The round of 14 win pitched Hall into a match race with France’s Nicolas Ivanoff in the round of 8. Flying second after Ivanoff had posted a 1:02.578, Hall blazed through the course above the Danube River in a slick 59.236 and then watched on as only Arch (58.942) and the Dolderer (58.653) were able to knock him off the hot seat.
The Australian, who was runner-up in the series behind the now retired Paul Bonhomme last season, said he was happy to have come away with a podium finish from what was the toughest race of his career.
“It’s nice to be back on the podium after what has been a really, really hard week,” Hall said.
“We didn’t fly very many times because of the weather but there was a lot of time waiting around preparing which can be really mentally draining.
“On top of that, the track was the most challenging of my career.”
Hall began 2016 with a ninth place in the season opener in Abu Dhabi before finishing fifth while battling a back injury in round two and placing seventh in the third stop of the eight round series.
“To sit in seventh at the halfway mark isn’t really what we anticipated at the start of the year but the good thing is I am improving and getting close to my best,” Hall said.
“Rather than look at how far down we might be sitting in the standings or how far behind Matthias we might be, we will concentrate on the opportunities that the last four races present us to get the best possible result by the end of the year.”
The fifth round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship will be held overhead the iconic Ascot Racecourse just outside of London on the weekend of August 13-14.