Smooth, precise qualifying lands Hall in top five at air race Budapest

The confidence of pilot Matt Hall is on the rise after the Aussie claimed fifth place in qualifying for the fourth round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Budapest, Hungary on Saturday afternoon.

Following a day of howling winds on Friday – which forced the cancellation of the day’s second practice session – qualifying day delivered ideal conditions and an electrifying session. While Hall had speed, it was Canadian Pete McLeod who finished first by producing a blistering lap almost half a second faster than second placed Yoshi Muroya of Japan.

While victory evaded Hall in today’s dash for the fastest time, the session was a significant step in the right direction in the continued development of his new aircraft. With upgrades to his aircraft’s cooling system and improved wing aerodynamics, Hall was happy to finish in the top half of the field and was confident there is more in the tank come race day.

“The new plane is good. I was still flying a little conservatively today because we had a couple of over-G’s in Japan and it was really rough yesterday,” Hall said.

Matt Hall of Australia prepares to take off during the qualifying day at the fourth stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Budapest, Hungary on July 1, 2017.
Matt Hall of Australia prepares to take off during the qualifying day at the fourth stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Budapest, Hungary on July 1, 2017.

“I can go faster than that, well I am fairly confident I can go faster than that, and I am happy with how we are flying. My confidence in this plane has grown a lot since we first had it in San Diego.

While his confidence may be on the rise, continuing to learn the intricate details of how his plane reacts to his inputs on the controls will be the key for Hall ahead of race day.

“I am still particularly getting used to how I pull the controls in the hard turns in this aircraft,” he said.

“This track has three hard pulls, and so I am working on getting the timing right to get to 10G rapidly, but not exceeding it. Accounting for these limits are what we are targeting for the next few races.

“Today was a little conservative, but come tomorrow I will hang out it and pull the aircraft through the track harder when I need to.”

Up next for Hall will be a head-to-head duel with French pilot Mikaël Brageot in the race opening Round of 14 on Sunday.

Although first is the position every pilot desires, it could prove to be something of a poisoned chalice for McLeod who will now face off against the fast, but at times inconsistent Juan Velarde. The Spaniard was one of two pilots to record a DNF after an over-G on his opening qualifying lap.

The other to finish with a DNF next to his name was reigning world champion Matthias Dolderer of Germany, who sets up an enticing head-to-head duel with championship leader Muroya. Czech pilot Petr Kopfstein finished third, with countryman Martin Šonka in fourth.

Round four of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes off at at 8pm AEST, and will be available LIVE and FREE online.

View race action on the live stream link here: www.redbullairrace.com/live

RACE DAY: 8pm AEST, Sunday July 2