Chiba 2017: Round of 14 Preview

How they line up for the opening round of Race Day

Ivanoff will be first in the track

This is where it matters the most. This is what it all comes down to. It's time to race! Every input into the raceplane can be the difference between winning and losing on Race Day. Here's how the Master Class pilots line up for the Round of 14 in Chiba...

Heat 1
Nicolas Ivanoff vs Matt Hall
It's always difficult being the first into the track on Race Day, and today that job falls to Nicolas Ivanoff. After a good performance in the opening Free Practice session, Ivanoff seemed to struggle in the track. He will be looking to put in a clean time and hope Matt Hall makes a mistake. Hall led the timesheet in Free Practice 3 and looked strong in Qualifying. He says he's not pushing his new raceplane as hard as he can, but he looks good to go through.

Heat 2
Petr Kopfstein vs Yoshihide Muroya
Kopfstein's flying has been compared to Paul Bonhomme's in terms of accuracy and smoothness. He is improving with every race, but will he be the villain here and ruin the day for the fans of Yoshihide Muroya? Muroya is full of confidence. He won here last year and won the last race in San Diego. If he can replicate that form he'll be hard to beat.

Heat 3
Juan Velarde vs Kirby Chambliss
This will be the heat to watch. Velarde and Chambliss were only 0.4s apart in Qualifying, but both pilots have had issues with the track. Velarde was given a DNF in Free Practice 4 for an over-G and Kirby collected a DQ for crossing the safety line, but they will both be fighting fit to win this heat – it's make or break for both their seasons.

Heat 4
Mikael Brageot vs Martin Sonka
New Master Class pilot Mikael Brageot impressed with some of his flying yesterday and is making a name for himself. However, he's going to have to be fast, focused and on form to beat Martin Sonka. Brageot has the confidence to beat Sonka, but the Czech pilot looks back to his best. He has the track record and if he flies like that today he'll be unstoppable.

Heat 5
Peter Podlunsek vs Michael Goulian
In Qualifying these two finished 0.066s apart and both have commented on how they like the track, but they have also made mistakes in their flying sessions. Whoever can keep cool in the track will come out on top in this one.

Heat 6
Cristian Bolton vs Matthias Dolderer
Fan-favourite Cristian Bolton is still learning the ropes in the Master Class. He is flying exceptionally well and his determination to win has been talked about a lot. Here though he is up against the World Champion and he's going to have to work hard. Dolderer looked in exceptional form yesterday. He got lost in the track at one point, but he knows what went wrong and how to correct it. His times have been getting better with every flight and he looks like the Dolderer of 2016.

Heat 7
François Le Vot vs Pete McLeod
Le Vot is pleased with his flying, but he knows he is up against it. His raceplane is slow, but the committed Frenchman is flying his lines and performing within the limits of his aircraft. He will be a different competitor when he has his new raceplane in Budapest, but for now it looks like he might not get past the Round of 14. McLeod was one of only four pilots who flew two clean runs in Qualifying and both were quick! He will make sure that he takes that form into the Round of 14.

Chiba 2017 Round of 14 start list