Stunt planes stun the crowds of Abu Dhabi
Hundreds of spectators had a fun-filled day on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche on Friday when the world’s top stunt pilots from 14 countries flew their aircraft to qualify for the Red Bull Air Race.
Pilots from Germany, Japan, Australia, Austria and other countries showed their brilliance by weaving their planes through 25-metre high floating pylons on the capital’s breakwater.
Hundreds of spectators had gathered all over the place since afternoon to watch the annual show.
At the 2016 season opener of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Friday, Australia’s Matt Hall showed the form that made him the overall runner-up in 2015 by winning Qualifying.
But he’ll need to push even harder in the Finals on Saturday. Hall’s time of 58.079 was less than two-tenths of a second ahead of the 58.268 logged by Germany’s Matthias Dolderer, while American Michael Goulian, finished third with 59.184.
Fourteen of the world’s best pilots kicked off their campaigns with an intense Qualifying Day on the Corniche off the Arabian Gulf.
Among the most experienced, former World Champions Hannes Arch of Austria (2008) and Nigel Lamb of Great Britain (2014) were in sixth and seventh position, while newcomers Petr Kopfstein of the Czech Republic and Peter Podlunsek of Slovenia delivered solid performances for eleventh and thirteenth.
In the head-to-head knockout battles of the Round of 14 on Saturday, Hall’s pole position means that he will go up against 2006 World Champion Kirby Chambliss of the USA.
“The wind did come up, so for the first run I took a conservative line,” said Hall, who is keen to earn Matt Hall Racing’s first World Championship after missing out to Bonhomme in 2015 by a mere 5 points. “We’ll keep flying conservatively and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Matt Hall was awarded the DHL Fastest Lap Award, a component introduced this season that defines a new standard of speed at the Red Bull Air Race. At each race, the DHL Fastest Lap Award goes to the pilot who clocks the fastest single lap among all of the two-lap qualifying runs. At the end of the season, the pilot with the most awards across the eight races will be awarded the DHL Fastest Lap trophy.