In the first Free Practice session of 2018 Matthias Dolderer set the fastest time of the day, but showed vulnerability in the later session when he exceeded the maximum G-limit and received a DNF.
The German pilot started his 2018 campaign in perfect style by setting the fastest time in FP1. His time of 52.784s was unbeatable in either session but closest to him was Martin Sonka in FP1 who was 0.727s behind him. Michael Goulian was third on the FP1 timesheet with Matt Hall in fourth; those two were within a second of Dolderer.
World Champion Yoshihide Muorya was testing out lines and was given two seconds of penalties in both of his Free Practice 1 runs. Both of them were for an over-G, but under the new rules he was only given penalty seconds and not a DNF as he exceeded the 10G limit for more than 0.6s, but was under the 12G limit, allowing him to continue racing. These runs saw him down in 11th on the timesheet.
2017 third place finisher Pete McLeod was fifth and Kirby Chambliss was last after he did exceed the 12G limit and was given a DNF.
Michael Goulian showed true strength in FP2 to take the top spot on the timesheet. His time of 53.517s was the fastest of the later session and the third fastest of the day. The afternoon session was a lot tighter with the top nine pilots finishing within one second of each other.
Petr Kopfstein was closest to Goulian and only 0.191s slower than the American. Sonka was third and Juan Velarde of Spain was fourth. Muroya improved in the second session finishing fifth. Mika Brageot, Matt Hall, Chambliss and François Le Vot made up the nine pilots that all finished so closely.
Nicolas Ivanoff finished 13th and 12th respectively due to flying a backup aircraft at the season opener, after his raceplane winglet grazed a pylon on Wednesday with surprising results. Just 24 hours before today's Free Practice sessions, Ivanoff was flying what seemed like an ordinary Training Camp run. But as he went through the chicane in blustery conditions, he hit the last pylon and although the pylon burst, for the first time in the history of the sport a raceplane winglet (an angled aerodynamic addition on the end of the wing) detached. The good news is that he'll be racing at the Abu Dhabi Corniche on Friday and Saturday.
New Master Class pilot Ben Murphy will be brimming with confidence after two sessions that saw him finish 10th in both.
All 14 pilots will be in action tomorrow for Free Practice 3 and then Qualifying. You can follow all the action HERE, live!
Abu Dhabi 2018 Free Practice 1 results
Abu Dhabi 2018 Free Practice 2 results