It seemed as if Matt Hall's World Championship title bid was dealt another blow on Wednesday as the pilot reported pain across his neck and down his arm after his first test flights. However his team are more than confident about this weekend's race going into tomorrow's Free Practice sessions.
We caught up with Matt Hall Racing's team coordinator, Dave Lyall after today's (Thursday) flight tests to get the latest on Hall's condition. "It's not any worse or different to what it has been in the past," said Lyall. "During Matt's first test flight yesterday he felt a twinge in his back. He still went out and flew his second session but after that he had treatment on it," he added.
Hall has had this injury since the start of the season. He suffers from pain across his neck, upper back and shoulder blades. "This restricts the movement in his neck and causes pain when he pulls the stick back; this affects his ability to pull high G," explains Lyall. "But it's no worse that it has been in the past."
The Red Bull Air Race's Aviation Medical Examiner Dr Thomas Drekonja explains why suffering from a back injury can cost the pilot time in the racetrack, "Your body intuitively doesn't do things that are detrimental or that cause pain. If you have a susceptible portion of your back that's acting up, then the way you're going to pull the stick back in the hard turns is going to be more nuanced if you don't want to bring on the pressure too quickly. If you're feeling wonderfully fine you can just whack it back as hard as the rules will allow you to," he explains.
Hall is currently sitting in eighth in the World Championship standings and will be hoping to win this Sunday. In 2015 he finished second in Chiba behind Paul Bonhomme and will want to go one better. Even if Hall is suffering, he isn't showing it. As soon as flying finished today, Hall left the Race Airport to spend time with his family and to relax. "We're confident though; we're going into Friday in the best shape we've been in this season," said Lyall. "The raceplane is the best it's been and it feels good for the team to not be jetlagged," concludes Lyall.