Pete McLeod is sitting third in the World Championship standings at the halfway point of the season. He looks to be in the form of his life as we head to Russia and the final four races of 2017.
At the recent race in Budapest, McLeod put in a near perfect performance. He topped Qualifying nearly half a second faster than his closest rival. On Race Day he pushed past Juan Velarde and Mikael Brageot in his heats to make it to the Final 4.
He pushed hard and his time of 1:00.740 was just a tenth of a second behind race winner, Kirby Chambliss. It was enough to see him second in the race (the first second of his career). After his third place in Abu Dhabi and mid-table finishes in both San Diego and Chiba, he is now in the highest position he's ever been.
It's not been easy for the Canadian, he knows it's one of the toughest seasons so far. "It's about how hard the other guys are pushing," he said after the Budapest race. "I was thrilled with my second place, it was so close, just one-tenth between us. I brought a lot of speed to the racetrack this weekend, my team were working really well, they had the raceplane running perfectly. I have no complaints."
He credits his second place to the work of his entire team. "We followed our strategy. To fly a sub-one minute run in the Budapest track you had to take the risk of an over-G or pulling up too early in the gate and hope you get away with it. I backed off from that knowing I'd be slower, but by no means did I take it easy. Kirby jumped all over that and it wasn't enough for me to win," explained McLeod.
McLeod is full of confidence going to Kazan, but he is on a long road to improve. Since the series returned in 2014, McLeod has been one to watch and he is playing the long game. He is focused on winning, but he's not worried, he has his strategy set and it seems to be paying off. "No changes happen by accident. This [consistency] is something we've been working on for a couple of seasons now," said McLeod. "Two seasons ago it was clear the raceplane wasn't fast enough, so I focused on my flying and began to develop that. I modified my style a little bit. Then we started to look at data and how we could implement that to improve our results. And this year, through some sponsorship budget we were able to implement some modifications onto the raceplane.
"It is about pilot and aeroplane. You can give the fastest guy the slowest horse in the race and he's not going to win. I'd be lying if I said it was all me. Now I've got a faster aeroplane it allows me to be slightly more conservative on my lines and not have to be a aggressive all the time – just have a beer with Paul Bonhomme and he'll tell you, you need a fast raceplane," concluded McLeod.