In the first competitive session of race three of 2018 here in Chiba, Matthias Dolderer stormed to the top of the timesheet with an impressive 57.118s run.
In strong but steady winds the 14 Master Class pilots were put through their paces rigorously but it was the German that kept the coolest head in a session where only two pilots, Matt Hall and Petr Kopfstein, came out of their runs completely penalty free.
Their consistency worked as Kopfstein found himself pushed down to third, just 0.636s behind Dolderer. Hall was in fourth, just 0.702s behind the leader. Second place on the timesheet went to Martin Sonka, who will be hoping for a solid race here in Chiba to get his season back on the right path.
Local hero, Yoshihide Muroya, who after he flew had to face hundreds of adoring fans, was fifth on the timesheet 1.166s behind Dolderer. Championship leader Michael Goulian was sixth, just behind Muroya, and McLeod was seventh.
There were lots of penalties throughout the pilots' runs, including three DNFs for deviations from the course, a Safety Climb Out and a DQ for crossing the safety line – all this leads in to what will be a hard-fought Qualifying session.
Tomorrow the pilots have two more Free Practice sessions before Qualifying at 1600 local time. Catch all the action HERE.
Chiba 2018 Free Practice 1 results