Second place sees Hall continue late charge in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship

The only way is up for Australian top gun Matt Hall, who has finished second in the penultimate round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Lausitz, Germany, a result that sees him continue his late charge up the series leader board.

On a day of close times and high drama, Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya (50.451) boosted his title hopes with a much-needed victory, Hall (50.846) beat series leader Martin Šonka (50.964) of the Czech Republic to second, while the title hopes of contenders Pete McLeod (Canada) and Kirby Chambliss (USA) took a blow.

Today’s result carries Hall to fifth in the world standings, no small achievement considering he sat thirteenth of fourteen pilots following the second round in San Diego, USA. On a year dedicated to rebuilding his team, the Aussie said he was thrilled with a weekend that netted first in qualifying, and the runner-up trophy.

“We’ve really had a great weekend as a team. It’s a track that we know and that we like, and we were getting faster each session,” Hall said.

“I have been working towards having a winning aircraft and team, we’re getting close and winning qualifying is almost a tick in the box to say that we have the pace to win. I have complete trust in my team, and know that they are all on top of their game…which means all I need to do is fly fast.

“We’re moving forward and this year. From the start, we had a plan to build into our year develop our team and it is all falling into place after much hard work. This result is pretty sweet.”

Despite the favourable ending, the day almost ended in tears for Hall after he only just scraped past rookie pilot Mika Brageot of France in the second stanza, head-to-head Round of 8 flight. Hall flew first and then waited anxiously as Brageot took it to the wire, the Frenchman finishing just by 0.002 of a second slower, allowing Hall to progress to the Final 4 shootout for victory.

Meanwhile Šonka and Muroya also had to tough battles on their hands in the Round of 8 as they took on McLeod and Chambliss respectively in a battle of the title hopefuls. The former two held their nerve, and now sit first and second respectively with just one round to go.

Next month the series will land in Indianapolis, USA for the 2017 finale, and unlike 2015 and 2016 Hall isn’t in contention for the title. With nothing to lose, the Newcastle local said he hopes to kick-start his 2018 campaign early with another top result.

“I’ve heard the commenters have been referring to me as the spoiler in the pack in this series as we’re showing strong speed, and we don’t have a championship to worry about,” the Aussie smiled.

“All year as we have been building, we have continued to remind each other that 2018 is our major goal, that is when we want to be title contenders again. I feel like we’re systematically achieving our goals.”

The final round of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes place on the weekend of October 14-15 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.