In the earlier chapters of Lamb's 2017 predictions for the Master Class pilots of the Red Bull Air Race we've looked at the veterans, the mature, and the seasoned groups. In this final instalment it's the turn of the 'new' members.
The 'new pilots are those who recently have come through the Challenger Class and have completed one season or less. As in Part 1, Lamb explains how his predictions have been calculated: "Each race is, of course, just one battle in the long campaign of a race season so it's hard to predict the outcome, but it's worth having a shot and seeing how things turn out by the last race in Indianapolis. There are many more pilots likely to win races than to be 14th, so my predictions here are weighted more towards winning than losing."
He posted some excellent times in his first season. He clearly has a fast machine, so if he's done some good mental preparation in the winter months, I believe we could be in for some surprises this year as his first race showed. Welcome to the bittersweet of air racing, Petr but don't lose heart... your results were excellent and you know you have a fast machine and all the skills. The podium beckons!
2017 prediction: 4 – 7
It's hard to say without knowing what off-season changes Peter may have implemented to both himself and his machine. Based on his results last year and knowing just how hard it is to eradicate penalties and compete at this level, I was not expecting such fast times in Abu Dhabi. Peter will be angry with his DQ but once he realises that he has only himself to blame and sees the true potential in his previous times, he should come back stronger for race two.
2017 prediction: 8 – 12
Cristian came in at a tough time last year to replace Hannes Arch who had died in a helicopter crash in the Alps. In the two final races of 2016, he acquitted himself very well and I think he has surprised himself with a top half result in his first race this year. His Qualification mid-field shows solid consistency so, whilst I think Cristian's plan was to use this year just to build his team and consolidate, his surge in confidence might well bring some excellent results earlier than he expects.
2017 prediction: 6 – 12
I had the pleasure to be Mika's mentor through the 2016 season. He was able to fly a fast machine in the track at each race and have full access to the highest level of analysis; invaluable experience for a rookie; he worked within a well drilled and bonded team, which knows how to lead a pilot to the podium and he managed to persuade every member of that team to join him for this season. He may be the youngest pilot competing in 2017, but I believe he has the full package: the skill, the mentalty, the machine and the team. Mika is certainly podium capable and although he will have come away from Abu Dhabi somewhat disappointed, knowing that he could/should have made the next round, two Championship points in your first race is a great result.
2017 prediction: 5 - 9
You'll be able to see all these pilots in San Diego on 15-16 April for round two of the 2017 Red Bull Air Race season. Get your tickets HERE!