We're counting down to the first flying sessions in the Japanese city of Chiba, and it's all hands on deck as teams work tirelessly in the hangars and behind the scenes.
Following delays in setting up the race infrastructure earlier in the week due to a passing typhoon, teams behind the scenes are working rigorously to get everything in shape ahead of the training flights later this week. The 14 team hangars were completed this morning, giving technicians space to reassemble the raceplanes, which were shipped from the location of the traditional season opener in Abu Dhabi in February.
"It's unfortunate that the weather caused a delay as it poses some time pressure for us. It puts the pressure on getting the planes ready. But it's still very comfortable and we have ample time to get the planes air tested and ready to rock by the end of Friday," says defending World Champion Nigel Lamb from the Race Airport along the waters of Tokyo Bay.
With the revised schedule and winds still over 20kts at the Race Airport on Wednesday, test flying will commence later than originally planned. Lamb doesn't see this as a problem for the pilots.
"Even if we only get one training session on Friday, we'll be ready for Qualification on Saturday. It just has to be the same for everybody. No pilot is at a disadvantage," he says. "Anyone who enters the Master Class needs to be able to competently qualify after one training session, even if it's three minutes. You will have rehearsed the track in your mind several times and you'll pretty much know which lines you're aiming for. It might not be as finessed as if you'd had more training time, but you'll be safe to fly and it's still a fair competition."
More of a challenge is the of the infrastructure that brings the race action to life from an operational perspective, including the spectator experience and live TV feeds watched by fans in several countries around the world.
"It's what goes on behind the scenes that really takes the time and everyone needs that time to get everything together," confirms Lamb. "This is a complex operation and all the equipment, telemetry and probably hundreds of kilometres of cabling... that all requires a lot of time to make sure it's all working smoothly."