As the pilots return to Budapest for the 11th time in Red Bull Air Race history, they have been spending weeks analysing the track to get the best preparation possible. However, they've had two versions to study, a low water and a high water version.
It's more than likely that the low water version will be implemented, due to the current water level being low, meaning we will get to see one of the most unique aspects of the motorsport – the Master Class pilots flying under the chain bridge before entering the track.
For 2017, the track has become known as 'the beast'. There are 24 Gates in two laps and the expected time is just 48 seconds. "This means the pilots will be passing a Gate every two seconds," said our analyst. "And the surrounding buildings will be higher than the pylons, so wind might cause turbulence in the track and potentially a stall in the high-G turns," he added.
Our race analyst says there are three sections of the track that could make the difference between winning and losing over the Danube. "As the pilots fly under the chain bridge to enter the track this will take a lot of their concentration and focus," he explained. "As the bridge is lower than the flight window [15m-25m] it means they will have to climb on their way to the Start Gate, making it difficult for them to hit the perfect start speed of 200kts."
The second section the pilots will need to be aware of is the angle at Gate 7 (and Gate 18 on lap two). Pilots will want to make a 'set up' turn but they will have to be careful of the safety line, as they will be disqualified if they cross it. As it's at the end of the track the pilots fly a high-G flat turn to return to Gate 8 (or 19). If they are too eager in the turn, they will pick up a penalty for incorrect level flying through a gate. "There is also a chance of stall in the flat turn, this is something we have seen previously in Budapest races," explained the analyst.
The final section that the pilots will be focused on is the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre (VTM). As at other tracks this VTM has to be flown straight until the raceplane is vertical, meaning the pilot can't bank left or right any earlier or they will receive a one second penalty for an 'operational violation'. The pilots will also have to be careful here, as they will fly close to the safety line.
The pilots will be flying through the 24-gate track on 01-02 July in Budapest, get your tickets HERE.