The pilots of the Red Bull Air Race fell in love with Russia as soon as they arrived. Do they feel the same about the Kazan track? Here are their first thoughts...
"I'm really happy to be in Russia for the first time. It's a big aviation country and I've been looking forward to coming here. My first plane was a Russian-made Sukhoi 26, so it's a dream come true. In the second flight we just combined all the small details together – everything worked well, and the time is quite nice! So we are really happy about it and we will just try to keep this pace for another two days and maybe not change any more tactics. If we do our best, we will be on the podium."
"It's really great that we're having an Air Race in Russia. I haven't seen the results overall, but we tested what we wanted to and now it's time to compare the data from the raceplane, but otherwise the track is nice and fast."
"It's my first trip to Russia and it's a modern, active city. There were beautiful conditions out there today and we can't ask for more. It was smooth over the water, which is nice when you're flying it for the first time. There are some technical parts to this track and areas you can risk tight angles to go faster, so it's going to make for an interesting race."
"I'm excited about having a race here and looking forward to it. I was slow in the track and hit a gate, but I'm not the only one out there doing that, and it was just not paying enough attention and thinking too far ahead. I'll just clean it up and be fast."
"The track is pretty difficult, even without the wind. The angles between the gates are huge and I think we're going to see a lot of pylon hits and disqualifications this weekend. We tried different lines and we're going to try and get as fast as possible, but it won't be easy here."
"It was fun, it's an interesting track in a very cool location. Russia has welcomed us nicely. I need to find a little bit of a better line. I tried to change the lines in the second session but somehow I have to look at where I can save a second, which won't be easy but practice is practice and race is race."
"I'm sure it's going to be a competitive race and I'm really looking forward to it. I had good feelings in the track today, it's very tight, very demanding, but we did a good job with the simulator and planning ahead and I felt quite comfortable. I had a pylon hit, but this is the time when you test the lines, so the feeling is good."
"As an American flying in Russia, it's amazing as I never thought it would happen to me. This track is a demanding one; it's not difficult, but Gate 2 to 3, to 4 is absolutely critical and you have to do it right. If you don't, you're going to get a pylon hit. If you're a little out of shape in those gates it's going to be a pylon hit, so you've got to get it right."
"Today the weather was perfect with no wind, and it's been a long time since we've had conditions like that. We can fly with a smile and you don't have to fight against the plane, so it's good. I was able to work on my tactics and it was interesting. I will have to analyse my data for the next round to see where I can improve."
"Unfortunately, the arm is not well yet despite the invested efforts and therapies between the races. It will need more time for the muscle to heal completely, but at least I have found a way how to do a good warm up to maximise the performance. I will definitely make sure I am warmed up properly before flying and hoping for the best. I am very much looking forward to this race, especially because this is a new city for Air Race, a new country for me, which makes it more exciting. Only three races left after this one, so we would like to show some good results in those remaining races. We are very motivated to show good and fast flying before the season ends."
"The track location is amazing with the background. It's an interesting track with a lot of options. The fastest line is going to be a very high risk line, so it's going to be a matter of how much risk are you willing to take to get the fastest line."
"It's a good-looking, interesting track. We prepared a lot for this track and even through we only had a little bit of time between races, we put a lot on this one. It's easy to fly, but when a track is easy to fly you take more risks to try and find the faster line, so it's not a win-win situation. I'm feeling very confident in this track, so hopefully it'll be mine."
"It's an amazing and beautiful city and it's a challenging and technical track, which makes a perfect mix. We made no penalties in the first run which is a good start. Our goals are to do our best and get to the Round of 8 at the very least."
François Le Vot
"The track is typically Russian – it's tough. I enjoyed the first session this morning and I was really comfortable and my times are very consistent. But I need to find a way to be faster. I'm losing 0.7s in the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre. I have a lot of work to do on myself to tame the aeroplane."
Tomorrow will see the pilots battle it out for Qualifying in Kazan. Follow all the thrills and spills HERE!