Hannes Arch is the most successful pilot currently racing in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. With 11 race wins, 24 podiums and one title to his name, he knows how to win – and he wants a second World Championship.
To get an advantage over his rivals and due to the track's twisty nature, Arch has chosen to fly with his wingtips in Lausitz. The Austrian pilot hasn't had much time to use them, but he knows that any change could help him make the top of the podium. "I do everything to win, but this modification is long term," said Arch. "We know we need wingtips. As you can see here [in Lausitz], those pilots with wingtips are faster, so we are using these to our advantage but we need experience, results and data, to get even better."
Adding wingtips to a raceplane at this stage in the season is a gamble. It changes the flying characteristics of a raceplane. The pilots of the Red Bull Air Race use muscle memory when it comes to flying, so when the pilots have to relearn the controls of their raceplane it can take time. Arch has found a way to make the process easier.
Along the leading edge of the wing, there's some aerodynamic tape, cut in a zigzag line. This helps Arch with how the winglets affect the handling. "The zigzag tape changes the aerodynamics," explained Arch. "So the wingtips work better and it creates better airflow for the wingtips, rudder, for everything. It changes the handling, which helps because we didn't have training with them."
The aerodynamic tape of Arch's Edge 540
Arch is currently 18 points behind Matthias Dolderer and with 15 points available this weekend, Arch knows it's a gamble worth taking. "We are close, we flew a 24.9s lap in Free Practice. I can still improve on my lines so we think we are able to win," said Arch. "It's not going to be easy because we think Matthias' and Matt's raceplanes are really strong, especially here. But, if we think smart, fly a good line and stay cool, we'll be up there," concluded Arch.