When Matthias Dolderer passed through the Finish Gate in Indianapolis last weekend he went down in the history books for at least three reasons. First, he became the first winner of a Red Bull Air Race at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway plus he became the first German pilot to win the World Championship and he was the first pilot to win the title before the final race of the season.
With that much to celebrate you could forgive Dolderer for going crazy, but in an interview after the race he was cool, calm and collected. He set out his race day like any other. "The approach for the race was like always. We planned to go out there, have fun, go from run to run and not think too far ahead," said Dolderer.
The normally ice-cool German did have to calm himself before the race as his mind was wandering. "It's been hard not to think about what would happen if I won, or what would happen if I was World Champion. I had to take these thoughts out of my head and just think about each run. After the Round of 14 I focused only on the Round of 8, not the Final 4." he explained. "When I was waiting to take off for the Final 4, I heard Matt's time, I didn't even know he'd hit a pylon. So then my question to myself was: 'How do I do this? Do I go for a safe run and aim for second or third?' I didn't know the times of Pete and Nigel and then I said: 'Come on! Let's do it, let's have fun!' – it worked out."
Dolderer is a completely different competitor to 2015. He is focused and determined to win. "If you enter any sport, you look up to those that are successful. What I did was try to figure out how the other guys did this. There was a time, like the other guys, when I didn't get over my penalties. I knew before the flight that I would have a penalty.
"Then in the middle of last year we decided to modify the plane. We changed the aerodynamics, built winglets, and changed the electronics. This was one of the key points, to make sure the hardware was right. Then we sat down together as a team and said, what do we need to do to become World Champion. So we were like a start up business and questioned everything. We did a lot of work and talked to a lot of people – but I won't tell you exactly how I did it," said Dolderer.
All that effort paid off in Indianapolis when Dolderer took his third win of the season and with it, the World Championship title. "There has been a big release of pressure. I made it my goal and it's really difficult to keep focused for such a long time," said Dolderer. "After my run in the Final 4, I was really eager to hear the time from Jimmy. I didn't know the times of Nigel or Peter and it was amazing to hear. I'm super happy and I can go for a fun round at Las Vegas and hopefully claim another win," he concluded.
Dolderer on his love of machines