There's a lot for the Challengers to take in at the season opener in Abu Dhabi. It's a new track and they're all flying new, more powerful raceplanes. Here's what they thought of Free Practice sessions 1 and 2...
"I like it a lot, but I'm still struggling a bit with the plane. I have to figure out the turn in the north, Gate 6, 7 and 8 and I'm getting a lot of penalties for over-G. So I have to work on this, but I am happy with my net time. I like the new plane, it's perfect for racing."
"So far so good, the new Edges in the class are fantastic, so I'm still trying to learn that. The wind was different today so I'm trying a couple of different things and trying to work out what the best line is. In FP2 I tried a different line and it didn't work out, so we know what we need to do and hopefully I'll be good for the race on Saturday."
"It was very nice being in the track, I was like a kid that just got a new toy. I was feeling very good and was trying to do everything in a smooth way and I know the speed will come. I'm really happy with myself and how I'm coping with the pressure. It's different to the training camps, because this was the first time over water, but once you're in the track you don't think of anything other than being in the track."
"I've been in the top three for the first two Free Practice sessions and I'm hoping this means I'm warming up well for the race. I've never had luck in Abu Dhabi. I've done well in sessions, but never the race. I'm hoping this is behind me and I can work hard for the win. I love the new plane, with the Extras we were 10 seconds behind the Masters, now we are three or four seconds behind, so the aircraft has a lot more energy. However, this brings different problems and I've been struggling with the over-Gs in the first few training flights, but it looks like I'm getting better now."
"It's incredible! I'm feeling a lot more comfortable than when I first arrived. I had quite a lot to learn but the guys were there helping me with the VTM and just trying to learn how the flow goes. I got two penalties in the later practice, but I was happy with the net times. The penalties weren't big ones, or pylon hits, so I'm happy."
"I tried different lines in the VTM some didn't work and others did. I've found one that works which I'll need to test tomorrow. The wind sometimes does not help. But apart from that I'm feeling good and I'm getting faster in the plane, it's hard on the roll, but I'm getting used to it. The Edge is fantastic and we're going a lot faster, so we have to work out the G-meters and it's just a question of practice."
"It's good to be back here. I'm really enjoying the new raceplane we have, it's a very splendid aircraft, much better than the last one. I haven't flown it too much, but it's going pretty well so far for me. The last flight I got a good time, although it's a little bit hard on the Gs and it's a stiff pull to get it right there on 10Gs. I'm also having a problem in the flat turn at Gate 6, 7 and 8, but I think I have my lines more or less set. We have one more practice flight in the morning before Quali, so I'm going to go for it and I'm looking forward to getting my third win in a row in Abu Dhabi."
The Challengers will be back in action tomorrow for FP3 and Qualifying. You can follow every second live, right HERE.