Reigning Red Bull Air Race World Champion Paul Bonhomme posted the fastest first-session training time at the latest round of the 2010 series in Windsor, Ontario, yesterday.
The Englishman, who also leads the current standings, was just ahead of chief championship rival and former champ Hannes Arch, posting the fastest time of the day (1m 11.97s). “It’s a nice track and as it’s similar to last year, it’s easy to think, ‘I’ll just strap on the aeroplane and go whistling through,’” said the defending champion, who has seen his lead reduced to just four points after two back-to-back third-place finishes. “Of course, what we’ve forgotten is that last year we had four training sessions and two race days to get used to it. We’re starting close to the beginning again, as it’s not quite the same.”
Hannes Arch (2nd) may have picked up a single penalty point for insufficient smoke, but his raw time would have been faster than Bonhomme’s. “We don’t carry enough smoke for three runs, so it’s not a big issue. I would say Paul, Nigel and I were really close,” said Arch, after flying a 1m 12.69s. “It’s now about who is better at improving over the next few days. I don’t see myself as better than Paul, that’s too dangerous and you can feel too confident. Windsor is important for me and I have to get smoother tomorrow, that’s the most important thing. I’m aiming for smooth and clean flying. That track is so narrow and the chance of making mistakes is high.”
Matt Hall (3rd) used his training runs to refine his race line after planning for a ‘nil-wind’ track in training to put his data analysis to good use. “The flight wasn’t as nice as normal, but it’s partly due to this new data system I’m using,” explained the Australian pilot. “I drew what I thought was the perfect line, but I discovered that was too tight for my first run in the track.”
Nigel Lamb (4th) maintained his position among the top four teams in training, but was irritated with his “ragged flying” and struggled to find the right line in the track for tackling the chicane. “The conditions were excellent with a gentle south-westerly wind, but the track was challenging enough,” said Lamb, who laid down a 1m 14.87s with three seconds in penalties.
"I would say Paul, Nigel and I were really close." –Hannes Arch
Michael Goulian (5th) had an encouraging result in training after a huge setback with his engine a day earlier. The American pilot was lucky to be able to train and thanked his team for working tirelessly to get him back in the air. “We put nine months into the hopes of a super powerful, awesome motor… which we had for about four hours,” said Goulian, who managed a 1m 15s with two seconds in penalties.
Matthias Dolderer (6th) was feeling jaded today during training, but still flew well to finish in the top half of the table. The German pilot was as analytical as ever about where he could improve, and said: “I know the track and I didn’t deviate. I feel comfortable and I know where I can gain time. I just need to fly clean and I hope to just get the tiniest fractions of seconds from this machine – it’s the last race I will fly with my red rocket.”
Kirby Chambliss (7th) certainly gets the prize for working his technician the hardest after yet another engine swap in the ongoing saga. Tech Jason Resop had to pull yet another all-nighter to replace the engine, but the effort paid off and Chambliss was able to fly in the training session. “Kirby was happy that the old engine felt good, but so did the new one!” said Resop from behind his shades, keeping the visible signs of weariness under wraps.
Nicolas Ivanoff (8th) was fighting off a cold in the hangar, and said his training runs had been disappointing but he only had himself to blame. “It’s down to me,” he said, head-in-hands while watching his video footage. “The first lap was more or less okay, but the second one is more complicated. The second knife-edge is really hard, and the gate after into the chicane. Today it was impossible for me to fly well, even though the weather conditions were good.”
Sergey Rakhmanin (9th) felt his result was bittersweet today in training and said that he expected others to do much better tomorrow. “The track was difficult and I couldn’t fly without mistakes,” said the Russian pilot. “I hope I’ll have time to work out why I made those mistakes. It’s not such great news that I am in ninth place as a lot of pilots were disqualified today for trying new things.”
"The canopy just came off – it unlatched somehow and was gone." –Yoshi Muroya
Pete McLeod (10th) finished with a DQ, but was insistent that he was just trying new tactics in the track. “The track is interesting with the wind and I was struggling with my lines,” admitted McLeod, who has changed his team set-up for Canada. “I didn’t put down a complete run, which I would have liked.”
Peter Besenyei (11th) saw another twist in the tale of his new aircraft after the team had to install the engine from the MXS-R into the new Corvus. The Hungarian-built race plane has already seen one engine swap this week during test flying as the original European motor was not approved by the Red Bull Air Race technical team. “The plane handles really nicely, but we have problems with the engine,” said Besenyei, who was DQ’d in training.
Alejandro Maclean (12th) was in good spirits as his tech repaired some minor problems with the MXS-R. “The plan is the same as always – doing the best we can,” said Maclean, who was given a DQ in the training session today. “We’re trying to recover from the disastrous start to the season and trying to catch up on points.”
Martin Sonka (13th) said his Edge 540 was in good health for the Canadian race and that he had a good feeling here. “The engine is fixed and we made some small modifications to the cooling of the engine. Some of the cylinder temperatures were too high but they are OK now,” explained Sonka.
Yoshi Muroya (14th) was forced to find a replacement airplane after his Edge 540 suffered slight damage when the canopy came unlatched on its first test flight at the Race Airport shortly after being reassembled. “The canopy just came off – it unlatched somehow and was gone,” Muroya said.