Every pilot in the Red Bull Air Race will want to take the top spot on the podium this weekend to get his or her 2018 season off to the best possible start. Every one of them would have spent months learning the lines of the track in their simulators. So has our track analyst and here are his thoughts on 2018's Abu Dhabi track.
This year the Abu Dhabi track consists of 15 gates, flown over two laps. The track this year is different from 2017, but the biggest difference is Gate 6. This year it's a double gate meaning the pilots will have to fly level through it. Last year it was a single gate.
Gate 7 will require the most of the pilots' concentration, as there are several options on how to fly it as well as a chance of an over-G. "There is obviously a chance for an over-G at the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre [Gate 3 and Gate 10 on the second lap], but there is higher risk at Gate 7," explained our analyst. "The trajectory from Gate 4 to Gate 7 is quite straight and the raceplane will accelerate," he added.
The two differing options for Gate 7 will more than likely be tried out by all the pilots between now and Race Day. "Option one is that the pilot takes Gate 6 in a straight line and then has a hard turn to line up for Gate 7," said our analyst. "Option two is that the pilot makes a set up turn before Gate 6 – which will be close to the safety line – heads straight to Gate 7 and then makes the hard turn after as they head to Gate 8."
As Gate 8 is also the Start/Finish Gate the pilots might take a different line at the end of each lap. "At the end of first lap the pilots might take a smoother line as they'll want to keep the energy in the plane, where as the second lap they will just want to get to the finish line as fast as possible," concluded our analyst.
You can see how the pilots decide to take the track on 02-03 February, tickets are available HERE.