As the sunshine returned to Abu Dhabi so did the aggression for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship title. It was fast and furious out there today as the pilots got a taste of the UAE track. Training had to be split due to the bad weather but it didn't dampen the pilots' performance.
Matthias Dolderer posted a blistering time of 56:440 in Training 1, giving him top slot on the timesheets. Nicolas Ivanoff was just 0.146s behind and Matt Hall, who has entered this season as the front-runner for the World Championship, was half a second behind the German.
Thursday's Free Practice 1 session saw 2014 World Champion Nigel Lamb looking to be back at his best, when he posted the fastest time. The British pilot clocked in at 56:416, one of the fastest times ever recorded in Abu Dhabi. Matt Hall was 0.026s behind Lamb and Dolderer finished in third.
In Free Practice 2 Hannes Arch set the fastest time at 57.624, which will only boost his new-found motivation. But the surprise of the day was from Spain's Juan Velarde, who posted the second fastest time in Free Practice 2. In only his second season in the Master Class, and with a new raceplane, Velarde saw his highest finish on a timesheet in the Red Bull Air Race. He was just 0.495s behind Arch.
Overall the track proved difficult for the pilots, with many of them penalised for Over-G in the track. New Master Class pilots Petr Kopfstein and Peter Podlunsek both collected penalties in their sessions, but will be looking towards an improved performance tomorrow and more flying time in the track ahead of Race Day.
The pilots will be analysing their data overnight and formulating a plan ready for Qualifying tomorrow. Follow the racing action LIVE right here.
Training 1 official results: