Reactions: Race Day from Abu Dhabi

One race down, seven to go. Here’s what the pilots thought…

Matt Hall finishes second

The season opener was a fantastic weekend of racing. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is back and the field is tighter than ever. Just 0.084s separated first and second place in the UAE capital. Here's what the pilots had to say:

1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR)
"I'm very happy with the win. We like Abu Dhabi, the raceplane runs well here and it feels like home. I wasn't well at the beginning of the week. Qualifying first actually gave me a difficult run to the Final, but we had a great result. Racing Nigel twice was hard, especially when he got a 57s time. It would've been easy for that to spook me."

2. Matt Hall (AUS)
"I never thought I'd have a pang of disappointment coming second, but I really thought I was going to get my first race win. I pushed hard in the Final Four and I was gaining on him. Second is a great place to start, especially as we were so close to Paul."

3. Pete McLeod (CAN)
"I got a little wide between gates 10 and 11, which cost me, but I'm pleased. I'm still trying to get the most out of my engine; it's not performing as well as I would like. I didn't seem to have enough for the final turn, but I can't complain. Any race you come away with a podium is a good race."

4. Hannes Arch (AUT)
"I'm not really happy. I thought I would get on the podium. Apart from yesterday, I flew really consistently. I think I focused too much on the judging and penalties instead of trying to get a fast time. Between now and Chiba we will focus on the technicalities of flying."

5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN)
"I'm happy with my flight. I was happy from the cockpit. My aircraft is still slow, but I'll have a month to work on it in Japan. This really gives me an advantage over the other teams. And I'll work hard until the race in Chiba."

6. Peter Besenyei (HUN)
"I'm satisfied with the results. I've had engine problems the whole time, and my team has had to work through the night. We found a way for it to work, this meant I could fly exactly how I wanted. I still want to change the wing, but that won't be possible before Chiba."

7. Nigel Lamb (GBR)
"I'm much happier than last night. The truth is we made lots of handling changes on the aircraft and I just hadn't flown the aircraft enough to get used to it. So we went back to how we were and it worked better."

8. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA)
"I'm not happy. I was really focused but made a mistake, but I was lucky in the Round of 14 because Mike had two pylon hits. In the Round of 8 I flew really bad. The track is really wide and my aircraft isn't quick enough for wide, open tracks. I just wasn't fast enough and made too many mistakes."

9. Matthias Dolderer (GER)
"I'm very disappointed. My run was OK and my time was fifth fastest, but that's not enough in the new format. I'm really looking forward to Japan. My raceplane is set up really well and I've got a great team that are working really well. So I'm happy with that."

10. Martin Sonka (CZE)
"I'm not satisfied. I was faster than Yoshi in my head, but I picked up a penalty and I missed out. We've collected a lot of data from our new monitoring system so we can use that. I won't be able to work on the raceplane between now and Chiba, so I'm going to keep in good shape and work hard."

11. François Le Vot (FRA)
"Stepping up to the Master Class has matched my expectation. My goal was to finish without making too many mistakes, and I did that. I like to think it wasn't purely the fault of my flying, I'm still learning."

12. Michael Goulian (USA)
"I'd planned my flight for one way, but the wind was in the other direction and I made a couple of mistakes by hitting two pylons. I was getting too deep in the turns and getting off line. That also cost me time as I tried to get back on track. I've got a great raceplane and a great team, so we're going to improve."

13. Juan Velarde (ESP)
"I was a second faster than yesterday, so I'm improving. I've worked out one of the things I need to work on is not getting too close to the gate before trying to get level. This has cost me a lot in penalty time. I need to plan my flight better when I'm on the ground and be more focused."

14. Kirby Chambliss (USA)
"We were in a good spot and running good, so it's just bad luck, I guess."