In the first competitive session of the 2018 season, Luke Czepiela blew away the competition by flying more than a second faster than his closest rival. Daniel Ryfa repeated that feat in Free Practice 2 when he too was more than a second quicker than the closest competitor.
In Free Practice 1 the Challengers got to competitively fly their new raceplanes – the Edge 540 V2 – for the first time and Czepiela set the standard with a time of 57.864s. Closest to the Polish pilot was Kevin Coleman who posted a time of 59.073s, 1.209s slower.
The first surprise of the season came for new Challenger Patrick Davidson who was third in FP1, just 1.450s behind the top spot. This will give the South African pilot, in his first race, great confidence. Ryfa, who would improve in the later session, could only manage fourth. Behind Ryfa was Daniel Genevey and in sixth was current champion FlorianBergér. Dario Costa, who is also competing for the first time, was seventh.
FP2 saw a reversal of fortunes for Ryfa. He topped the timesheet with a 57.236s time – the fastest of the day. Czepiela maintained his competitive edge and although he was slower, he was still quick enough to be second in FP2.
Bergér who collected penalties in his earlier run, flew cleanly, but it was only enough to place him third, 1.598s behind the leader. Coleman was fourth and Costa set a quicker time, which was enough to push him up to fifth in the later session. His fellow debutant, Davidson was just behind him and Genevey, who hit a pylon in both his runs found himself in seventh.
The Challengers will be studying their lines tonight and have the final practice session tomorrow before Qualifying. You can catch all the action live, HERE.
Abu Dhabi 2018 Challenger Class FP 1 results
Abu Dhabi 2018 Challenger Class FP 2 results