Today's race in Kazan had everything. Pylon hits, penalties and fantastic flying. Three North Americans stood on the podium and four former Challenger Class pilots made it through to the Round of 8. It's been a race to remember. It will live long in the pilots' memory. Here's what they thought of the first ever Red Bull Air Race in Russia...
1st Kirby Chambliss
"I'm super excited, I was honestly just hoping to get in the Final 4. I didn't think we'd get the top spot. The most exciting part for me was going up against Matthias. I was sitting out in the hold and I watched him knock a gate down and I thought okay, this is going to be an easy ride and then I tagged one. I guess I was looking too far ahead in the track. I felt it and then I knew I just had to go crazy because I had to beat him, I went nuts. I took every risk and took him out by just 0.070s. I probably last led the championship in '06 when we were champions. Everybody keeps going on about the points and that's great, but I don't get focused on the points. I just need to keep winning races or getting up on the podium, and that's what brings you championships."
2nd Pete McLeod
"I've got to be satisfied with second place. I knew I had the penalty and I think the best piece of flying I did all weekend was missing that pylon; I'm still amazed I didn't hit it. It helps to be fast enough to take a two second penalty and still be in second place, so it's a great weekend. We've got the plane where we want it and we're not stopping, we're going to keep moving with it. But I'm flying great. I feel good in the raceplane so there's a good chance Porto could be a good race for us."
3rd Michael Goulian
"It feels great to be back on the podium, we've been fast all year, we just haven't been able to convert in the Round of 8. The start of today was crazy and I kept hitting Gate 4. The plan in the Final 4 was don't hit anything and be conservative. So even though it was conservative, it was what we wanted to do and it played in our favour. To be here in Russia has been amazing. As a child I never would have thought I'd be racing a plane in a beautiful city like Kazan, in an amazing country like Russia. So it's been fantastic and a dream."
4th Petr Kopfstein
"I wasn't under pressure here, I just had to go and risk the maximum or I wasn't going to beat the others in the Final 4. This time it didn't work for me, but I'm super happy with my time. I did as I planned. This track didn't suit me and the Final 4 is a perfect example. To be fast you have to risk a lot, and if you risk a lot you're going to hit a pylon, that's what happens. We went for it, we knew it could happen and it did. We're happy with our net time, it was super fast, so everything went according to plan."
5th Juan Velarde
"It was a very complicated race, and especially at the beginning the results were like a lottery. It's always disappointing to lose a heat, and especially a chance to be in the Final 4 and on the podium. But we flew well and erased the bad results of previous races, and we have to be happy with that. Petr and I are really good friends and have known each other for a long time, so losing against him is a little less painful. But if I fly against him again, of course I will do my best to win."
6th Matt Hall
"I wasn't happy with my flying today. I felt I was struggling with the aircraft a little bit. We still have a lot to do to get the handling set up. We don't get enough flying at low level to know how the plane is performing. I'm looking forward to getting some time just to do some training so that I'm not fighting the plane in the track. The track is a design that is set up to cause pylon hits. A good track design is one that means you can pick a racing line and have a nice fast race, but if you're offline still make it through the pylons. With this one, if you're offline or the wind is coming from a certain direction you can't actually get through without hitting a pylon. That said, we were up for the challenge but couldn't get it finished off today. Keep your eyes on us, we will get there in the end and we will get on the podium, we just need time to gel as a complete unit."
7th François Le Vot
"It was only possible to make it through the Round of 14 by not focusing on the challenge of racing Martin, and on doing what I had to do in the track. This track is very challenging between Gates 3 and 4. If you want to save some seconds, you have to straighten the line between them, which makes the angle through the gate very tight. It was a risk to take, I took it, and it went wrong, but you're either winning or you're learning, and I learned a lot today. I'm still learning the raceplane, but I think it is promising. It could go faster."
8th Cristian Bolton
"In the Round of 14 the idea was to put the pressure on Nicolas and make a clean flight. Our plane is slow even if I fly a clean line, and in the Round of 8 I made a mistake on the entry speed because I knew I needed to be at the maximum of 200 knots. It's amazing that we have a chance to fly in this beautiful city, with beautiful people and an interesting racetrack. And we did it the right way – we are back on track for our goals."
9th Martin Sonka
"Today was all about the rain and the weather conditions because they totally change the aerodynamics of the aeroplane. I had several wing stalls because of all the water we had on the wing and had to fly carefully. It was amazing to have the race here in Russia, and the location is fantastic, but of course we are not happy with the results. We'll aim for better next time."
10th Matthias Dolderer
"We've had different weather every day – calm, wind, rain. That makes it difficult because we have to change lines as we are flying in three dimensions. When I went to the first gate of the chicane, I had a really good lineup and I wanted to go close to save time, and it just didn't work out – by probably just an inch. But that can happen, and the rest of the flight went really well. As we've seen, the overall competition is really tight. Now Pete has performed well in two or three races, but he can lose in the stops to come. It's just about split seconds. It's a mental game and anything is possible – I hope I will be back on top."
11th Nicolas Ivanoff
"I have a lot of fans here due to my Russian name. My grandfather was Russian, so it's kind of a home race. Although visibility was good enough in the track, the conditions today were not really nice to fly, and I made a small mistake in the last gate. In these conditions the plane is not the same, it's a little bit like trying to walk on eggs. However, this kind of track is really nice because you have a lot of possibilities for different lines. I hope we'll do it again next year."
12th Mikael Brageot
"The weather today was very challenging. Aviation is all about experience and today I got one more chance to increase my skill level and experience, and I take it very positively. The track looks easy, but if it looks easy, everyone wants to take risk and pilots really push to the limits, which is why there were so many pylon hits."
13th Yoshihide Muroya
"Actually there was really heavy rain during the hold before I started, and I noticed some cloud cover on the way to the racetrack and I starting thinking about that. That affected my concentration in the track. It's a disappointment. I like sports and flying, but this was a weather challenge. However we really enjoyed flying in Russia when the weather was nice."
14th Peter Podlunsek
"Today the conditions are even worse than yesterday and you can imagine what it's like to be out there flying. We went above the limits."