French pilot François Le Vot has often commented on the fact that he and his team have had no time to work on his raceplane. Although he stepped on the podium at the season opener in Abu Dhabi his raceplane has been slow in the track. After Chiba, the pilot and his Breitling Racing Team have had time to make some major modifications to his Edge 540.
"We have changed everything from the cowling and canopy to the rudder," said Le Vot. "My team has done a fantastic job in just two weeks," he added.
Le Vot had major issues in the heat of Budapest last year, and found that he just couldn't get his engine cool enough for competitive flying. "My first priority on the modifications was to save my engine," he said. "The original cowlings were so inefficient that last year here in Budapest I burned-out two cylinders. So that was the main priority, but we had to make sure it was changed without detriment to the speed and the aerodynamics. We had to think hard about if we would design the new cowlings or if we were going to buy them ready made.
"I finally decided to buy a set from Paul Bonhomme's 2014 raceplane – this was an efficient cowling. I hope I will be able to save my engine whilst gaining some speed with them," Le Vot explained.
After the cowling was sorted there was still time for Le Vot to make other changes to his raceplane. "We have also changed the canopy, rudder and turtle deck. We hope we have reduced the drag and I believe we have gained 4kts in speed. That is at least in straight and level flight, but we know that's not how the race is flown," he explained.
With any changes to a canopy, there can be potential alterations that the pilot has to make. "There are downsides," said Le Vot. "As we've changed the canopy I've also changed my seating position, which I haven't adjusted yet, so that will be something I have to get used to."
This weekend in Budapest, it will be Le Vot's first test with his new configuration, but he's not finished, there's still work for his team. "I suspect we still have lots of work to do with the wings, they bleed a lot of energy. So the next stage is to change the wings and wheel pants," he concluded.