Sonka swoops in and takes Qualifying top spot

Czech pilot shows his rivals he’s ready to race

Sonka quickest in Qualifying

Martin Sonka was the coolest pilot in the blistering Abu Dhabi track today as he stormed through Qualifying in just 52.097s – the fastest time so far this week. The Czech pilot put his DNF from yesterday behind him as he went on to set up a Round of 14 heat against Peter Podlunsek.

There was surprise among the more experienced pilots of the Air Race as the two new pilots, Mikael Brageot and Cristian Bolton finished seventh and eighth, setting times that were just over a second slower than Sonka. The two new members of the Master Class will face each other in the Round of 14.

American Michael Goulian looked to have blown his chances in Qualifying when he exceeded the G-limit in his first run giving him an instant DNF. However, Goulian fought back in his second run to cross the Finish Gate in 52.458s, just 0.361s behind Sonka. He was closely followed by compatriot Kirby Chambliss who finished third on the timesheet.

Pete McLeod mentioned that he's losing time in the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre, but doesn't know how he can pick up speed without collecting an over-G – an issue which saw the Canadian in fourth on the timesheet.

World Champion Matthias Dolderer had a Qualifying session he'll want to forget. The German clipped a pylon on his first run giving him a three second penalty, and in his second run he passed the last gate at an incorrect level. After a long review he was given another two second penalty, which moved him down to 11th place.

2016 runner up Matt Hall has also been struggling. He is awaiting his new raceplane and in the meantime has an older Edge that is not nearly competitive enough. The Australian finished in 13th.

Nicolas Ivanoff, who won here last year, couldn't get comfortable in the track today and finished in ninth, which puts him in a head-to-head battle with Petr Kopfstein in the Round of 14 tomorrow.

You can follow all the action of Race Day LIVE here, starting at 13:00 local time (09:00 UTC).

Master Class Qualifying results