Pete McLeod drew a line in the sand today by posting a blistering time of 54.609s to see him on top of the Qualifying timesheet for the first time since Las Vegas 2014.
McLeod's flights were clean and smooth, with his strength coming from the final high-G turn when he picked up the most time. He had learned from his training runs and made it count in Qualifying. World Champion, Matthias Dolderer was closest to McLeod, and was quicker than the Canadian at the second and third split times, but lost time in the final Vertical Turning Manoeuvre and crossed the Hamilton Start/Finish Gate just 0.047s behind.
Martin Sonka finished third in Qualifying, the current standings leader hasn't been out of the top three in any of the flying sessions here in Chiba. Below Sonka was local hero Yoshihide Muroya who will be pleased with his run, which sees him fly against Petr Kopfstein in the Round of 14 tomorrow.
Muroya was one of only four pilots that flew two clean runs in Qualifying. He, along with Michael Goulian, Juan Velarde and Pete McLeod flew cleanly where as the other pilots all picked up penalties in at least one of their runs. Seven of those were either disqualified for crossing the safety line, deviating from the course or exceeding the G-limit.
Matt Hall finished fifth, which he'll be pleased with in his new raceplane. He says he can push harder and will be looking to advance into the Round of 8 for the first time this season.
This track is proving to be a challenge for the pilots, with the changing conditions and close safety line, but it will make for a great race tomorrow. Follow all the action right HERE.
Chiba 2017 Qualifying results