Pete McLeod is known for his aggressive flying in the track. He pushes hard in every race and can be at the top of the timesheet when it all goes to plan. He can also find himself near the bottom when he pushes too hard and picks up penalties.
However something changed for McLeod this season, he became more focused on flying cleanly and although 2016 didn't start as he would've hoped, the work was paying off when he claimed two podium finishes towards the end of the season.
By working on his flying McLeod also became the first pilot since the World Championship returned to go an entire season without hitting a single pylon! It's rare for pilots to hit a pylon on Race Day (only eight pylons were struck during races), but during Free Practice it's common for them to clip an Air Gate as they search out the racing line – 2016 saw a total of 59 pylon hits during the Free Practice sessions.
"2016 was always going to be a building year for us," said McLeod. "I wasn't aware that I was the only pilot not to hit a pylon, but it shows we made a conscious choice to focus on the flying," he added.
"We know that it's a balancing act, the more risks you take, the more chance that you'll eventually hit a pylon. If you pick the line that's close to the edge you're eventually going to pick up a penalty," explained McLeod. "I used to always take the approach that I had to go faster, but we don't have the quickest raceplane, so this year I tailored my lines to how I was feeling and how the raceplane felt in the track," he added.
This new tactic seems to have paid off for McLeod as he picked up two third place finishes and 18 points in back-to-back races at Lausitz and Indianapolis. This boost in form is something he hopes to continue into the next season. "We'll be working more on the tactical side of the races in 2017. This year was a building year for us. We made a lot of progress in the flying and we will continue to improve for next year," concluded McLeod.