Handling the standing start

How the pilots cope with a different entry into the track

Bonhomme on the Ascot Runway

The racetrack at Ascot is unique for several reasons. The most obvious is the standing start. The pilots have to take off and fly through the Start Gate and head towards the vertical turn at Gate 2. There isn't much time for them to be ready and they have to try to get to race speed in just 700m. It's a technique that's only needed at Ascot, but the pilots take it all in their stride. 

"I love flying at Ascot. It's not a normal thing taking off in front of the Royal Box," said Matt Hall. "I remember thinking as I was flying through the track how unusual it is that I'm only 45 seconds into my flight and I'm nearly done with the lap. It's only two minutes from take off to landing, usually we're flying for five minutes before we've even entered the track," he added.

Matthias Dolderer, who had the fastest time of the weekend at Ascot last year, knows what he needs to perform. "You don't have time to set up the raceplane in the air," he said. "You have to be 100% focused from the take off. You have to change your mindset. You have to be ready whilst you're still on the ground," he added.

Pete McLeod, who has felt his engine has been underpowered all season, is a little concerned about the standing start, "The start to the first turn is all about horsepower, and I'm not sure my engine is the best. We'll see when we get into the track," he said.

Red Bull Air Race expert and two-time title winner, Mike Mangold explains what he believes is the best technique: "The pilots have to get up to race speed in just 700m, it'll come down to the technician that can set the engine up best and the pilot that can implement it. If you get that wrong, you'll be catching up the entire run."