In part one of this two-part series, three-time World Champion Paul Bonhomme talked about the pilots who finished 14th-8th in the second race of the season. Here he talks about the pilots that outperformed their rivals...
7th Pete McLeod
"Meeting Muroya in the Round of 14 seemed a bit harsh for the Canadian after a solid and consistent Qualifying session. In the Round of 14, Pete flew really well and missed beating Muroya by only 2/10ths of a second. He mentioned losing concentration after Gate 4 where he thought he'd rolled early but he shouldn't have been concerned. It hadn't actually been a penalty and anyway, what could he do about it if it was? At 200mph and 5ft you really need to be thinking ahead and any distraction like a possible penalty can slow that process down... but even with that distraction he was quick. I reckon by race three we will see Pete starting the 2018 season in earnest."
6th Juan Velarde
"A solid Saturday saw Velarde start in the Round of 14 against Petr Kopfstein. He was second to fly in the heat and didn't allow the fast time set by the Czech pilot spook him. That showed good control of his emotions. In the Round of 8, an early tweak to the left in the vertical turn collected him a one second penalty and handed Dolderer the place in the Final 4. Without that one second penalty, Juan may have beaten the German by less than one tenth of a second. Of course the German fans will say that the early turn gained him an unfair advantage, but either way, an unnecessary mistake from the Spaniard meant an early finish. The good news is that the aeroplane is flying fast and Juan is steadily improving."
5th Mika Brageot
"Bravo Mika! He qualified fifth and then finished fifth in the race, a fantastic result given a) the speed of the other teams and b) the home race pressure. Racing at home is fantastic because the drive there and home is shorter distance away but that's where it stops. Everything else is harder work given the pressure, real or imagined, from friends, family and fans. Mika did well to soak up that attention and concentrate purely on flying smoothly and cleanly."
4th Yoshi Muroya
"By their own high standards this was not a good weekend for Team Muroya. Sixth in Qualifying and then fourth in the race with a penalty in the Final 4. We've seen this happen before and I forecast that the Japanese team will hit the "reset button", all issues will be sorted and he'll be flying super fast in Japan. The other teams need to watch out."
3rd Michael Goulian
"Goulian's Qualifying session was almost certainly the most stunning of this Air Race series ever! Not only did he come out last and throw down a winning time after some equally stunning runs by the competition, he then beat his own time by 1/1000th of a second. We talk about improving consistency and Mike gave us the best demonstration ever. Like Chambliss though, his form took a small knock back on Race Day and although he beat Murphy, he then lost a second and a half from his Q time to lose to Sonka in the Round of 8. Then followed a stroke of luck for the American as Team Sonka was DQ'd for their RPM infringement, which meant Mike was back in the Final 4. After a busy few minutes to get ready he did well to get the last step on the podium. Occasionally you need some luck... it was Mike's day in Cannes."
2nd Matthias Dolderer
"Is Dolderer back on form? He had a great weekend with a fourth in Qualifying and then flew consistently all afternoon to get 12 points for his second place. What was impressive here was his Race Day times. In the Round of 14 a time of 57.877, then a 57.950 and then in the Final 4, a 57.764. He had clearly found the racing line in Cannes but also that elusive consistency which he showed convincingly in 2016 but which went missing last year. He commented after the race that he was less aggressive here than in Abu Dhabi. As we have seen before, you don't go fast by being aggressive, you go fast when you fly precisely."
1st Matt Hall
"About time too!!! I know only too well that Matt Hall can fly fast (remember 2015?). So this was a spectacular result for the Australian and also proof that the artwork and paint job of an aeroplane can have a huge effect on the speed and controllability. He had issues with the centre of gravity after the rebranding in Abu Dhabi, hence his over-G there in Qualifying, which disturbed him all weekend. Here the weight issues were resolved and he was on rails all weekend. He beat Dolderer by 7/100ths of a second but it always looked like he would win. Super relaxed but precise flying got him to the top step..."