Three-time World Champion Paul Bonhomme has watched all the runs of the Master Class pilots from their race in Cannes and offers his valued and expert opinion on how he thinks they're performed. In part one, we look at the pilots that finished 14th-8th...
14th Nicolas Ivanoff
"His clean flying in Qualifying looked precise but even after some very tight VTM's the speed had dropped off for the rest of the lap. Nicolas was 11th in Qualifying and was up against the in-form Dolderer for the Round of 14. Even without his incorrect level penalty at Gate 4, Nico would have lost to the German. Work required on either engine or aerodynamics to keep the speed after the big turns... as well as eliminating those pesky incorrect levels which we have seen before."
13th Cristian Bolton
"The Chilean recovered well from his mistakes in run one of Qualifying and posted a respectable time for Q2. That showed a good head for pressure and a healthy 10th in quali. His Round of 14 against Brageot saw him make an unnecessary mistake at Gate 9. Without that two second penalty he would have flown a very respectable 59s... it wouldn't have won the heat but would have sent him to Japan with more confidence."
12th Kirby Chambliss
"The Texan had a weekend of two halves. Saturday: a superb Qualifying session with him setting two blistering runs just two-tenths of a second apart and only one-tenth off the pace of the Q winner Goulian. Sunday: That consistency deserted him with a "high in Gate 4" penalty on the first lap of the Round of 14. The problem started before the chicane with a correction to height there and it continued until the high in gate after the chicane. Was there a hint of relaxation on Sunday after such a great day on Saturday?"
11th François Le Vot
"Q1 was on track but François was DQ'd for crossing the safety line after the VTM in the second qualification run. The smallest hint of a left turn at that gate would get you perilously close to the DQ and that set him up for the worse possible Round of 14 heat against Matt Hall. A shame as an improvement to his clean smooth Q1 time would have got him a much easier R14 heat... a harsh reminder that both Qualifying runs are golden opportunities and need to be valued."
10th Ben Murphy
"More Qualifying drama here and a cockpit distraction in Q1 (one of the aircraft instrument displays temporarily failed) in the first VTM ended up with an over-G at the second VTM. Ben didn't even get a second chance as he'd spiked over the 12G, meaning home time until meeting Goulian in the round of 14. There are various techniques to control the over G, most of them involve some form of instrument display... if that fails you really do have to be careful to "feel" your way around a VTM but it'll probably be slow. Ben's original thought process of scrapping Q1 and resetting for a solid Q2 might, in hindsight, have been a better plan. As we said at the start of the season, there is a lot to learn. Either way, he set a really solid R14 time which will carry him to Japan with some confidence."
9th Petr Kopfstein
"Do not underestimate what happened in Qualifying for Petr. He flew two runs within 46/100ths of a second (consistent!!) and both were within 7/10ths of Mike Goulian's time. Again he suffered from a tough heat in the Round of 14 against Velarde and missed it by only 3/10ths of a second... Petr is slowly finding his form and I forecast he will be hard to beat when it all clicks. What is fantastic is the steady, consistent, disciplined build up – the others should watch out!"
8th Martin Sonka
"An over-G in run one of qualification sent Martin home early but he bounced back to meet and beat Kirby in the Round of 14. Even with the win, the Czech pilot was still on the slow side and a second away from the fastest Qualifying time. He'd need to get a move on in the Round of 8 against Goulian. He squeaked past the American by 2/10ths and was into the Final 4... then came the news that he'd been using too much RPM and was relegated to eighth place. Once again, the efforts fell short of Martin's plan. His after race comments suggest fixing the RPM controller but if I were his team, I would do a ground up review of the entire operation to make sure that that is the end of small (but costly) snags for this year."
Check back soon for part two of Paul Bonhomme's analysis...