Challengers woo crowds as Red Bull Air Race starts
With their death-defying exploits, over 20 pilots enthralled crowds as the Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2019 season-opener kicked-off in Abu Dhabi Corniche on Friday.
It was 14 Master Class pilots and six from the Challenger Class who navigated their way through the air gates to be the fastest in the qualifying rounds. The crowd, glued to the action throughout the length of the race, witnessed a top-rated act of skills and perfection.
In an intense battle, top four pilots were split by just half a second and top 10 by a second.
Team Falken’s Yoshihide Muroya ended up being the fastest man with a time of 53.024 seconds. And the Japanese pilot just loved flying in Abu Dhabi skies. “I am happy to be back here in Abu Dhabi. This is good start to the tournament. My team is really happy with this result. I flew conservative line. I will stick with same plan and that should be enough to win the race,” said the pilot who had finished second here last year.
Abu Dhabi race is an opportunity for someone like Pete McLeod who is looking to write a new chapter with Cashback World Racing. McLeod finished second behind Muroya in the qualifiers.
“Last year was a struggle as a few things didn’t work for me. This is an interesting track. I know where I can save time on this track. Now its strategy time,” said the Canadian pilot, who has been on Abu Dhabi podium thrice so far.
Last year’s race winner, Michael Goulian, finished third and said there were ‘butterflies in everyone’s stomach’. “You just need to keep your head together. The wind might change a bit from start of the race to the end. It’s one of those things to look at. We have a plan and hopefully it’s the right one,” the Team Goulian racer said. Spicing up things, from this year, the top three qualifiers also get championship points.
Florian Berger, who won the Challenger Class qualifiers with a time of 58.338 seconds, said the competition is very tight. “Times set are very close. It will be all or nothing on the race day,” he said.
It will a visual treat for residents as Saturday afternoon will see all the masters and challengers hit the skies to determine the winner.