This year Budapest hosted the fourth race of the season and it was always going to be a tense fight. Martin Sonka and Yoshihide Muroya were both tied on 30 points with Matthias Dolderer in third on 23 points and Petr Kopfstein in fourth with 17.
Free Practice 1 saw Sonka flying out of the blocks, he set the quickest time in the first session with a 1:05.796 – that included a one second penalty for insufficient smoke. Dolderer was closest to the Czech pilot, he crossed the Start/Finish Gate 0.198s slower. Muroya was third and Matt Hall fourth.
The pace seemed slow, but FP1 was held in testing weather conditions. As the day progressed the weather worsened and the later session had to be cancelled. This gave the pilots only one more session before Qualifying was due to take place.
Budapest 2017 race highlights
Sonka topped FP3 with a time of 1:00.604 – more than five seconds quicker than his time in the first session. Pete McLeod was second and Hall was third.
Qualifying saw McLeod top the timesheet – for the second Qualifying session in a row. The Canadian set a time of 59.508s, which was to be the fastest of the weekend. Muroya was second with Kopfstein third and Sonka fourth.
The Round of 14 was one of the best of the season. Mikael Brageot was first to fly and up against Hall in Heat 1. He set a time of 1:01.970 and Hall was unable to beat it, but was close enough to go through as the fastest loser.
Sonka was handed a pass through to the Round of 8 when Peter Podlunsek pulled out of the heat due to injury. Michael Goulian and Dolderer both exceeded the G-Limit and knocked themselves out of the race.
Budapest 2017 Race Day gallery
The Round of 8 brought even more excitement. Kirby Chambliss knocked out Petr Kopfstein flying more than a second quicker. Mikael Brageot flew in Heat 9 against McLeod. Brageot set a time of 1:03.027. McLeod was looking good in his run until Gate 7 when he picked up a two second penalty for incorrect level flying and looked to be going out. But he kept his cool and was able to beat Brageot's time by just 0.078s.
Sonka was next to go through, knocking out Ivanoff and Hall gifted Muroya his spot in the Final 4 when he over-Gd in his run.
Chambliss was first into the track for the Final 4 and laid down a time of 1:00.632, the second fastest time of the day.McLeod followed after Chambliss and was looking good. He was quicker at the first three spilt times, but a slight mistake cost him and he ended up crossing the finish line 0.108s behind the American. Although this was enough to see him finish second.
Third into the track was Sonka who had set the track record earlier in the week and on his run was on track to be the only pilot to get under one minute on Race Day. However, at Gate 18 he was given a two second penalty for climbing in the Gate and that saw him drop from first to fourth.
Muroya had the advantage of flying last and knew exactly what he needed to do. But he just seemed unable to push his raceplane as hard as he would've liked. He flew cleanly, which was enough to see him on the podium, but only in third.
After the race Chambliss said: "I love Budapest. I have to thank my team, it's not a one person effort, I can't thank them enough. I'm super stoked. Winning is easy when you're winning, it's not when you're not."
After the race, at the halfway point of the season, the top of the leaderboard was still tight, with Muroya just two points ahead of Sonka. The results also saw McLeod move up to third and Chambliss up to fourth.
Budapest 2017 final result