Abu Dhabi has always been a happy hunting ground for Pete McLeod. Since the Red Bull Air Race World Championship returned in 2014, Pete McLeod has been on the podium three out of the four races held over the Arabian Gulf.
In 2014 McLeod claimed his first ever podium finish in Abu Dhabi by claiming third. He repeated that task in 2015 and again this year. He missed out on a podium in 2016 when he exceeded the maximum G-limit in his Round of 8 heat against Matthias Dolderer.
McLeod is in a rich vein of form right now. This third place finish in Abu Dhabi will make it three podiums in a row for the Canadian, after he picked up trophies in Lausitz and Indianapolis. He's making sure he stays grounded though; it's a long season ahead. "It was a great start to the season, I don't think I could ask for better. Of course I would have liked to have won, but it's so competitive out there," said McLeod. "I came into this race wanting to pick up where I left off at the end of last season, with a podium. I didn't set any track records in Abu Dhabi, but I flew cleanly and disciplined, and that was enough."
2016 was always going to be a building year for McLeod and his team, and in the second half of the season it started to pay dividends. He's now returned focused on the season ahead. "I made some simple mistakes in Abu Dhabi, but that's the start of the season, those mistakes are to be expected. We're getting everything we can out of the raceplane and I know what I need to work on to be faster and that's a good thing to know, rather than not know," explained McLeod.
McLeod is under no illusion that this could be one of the toughest seasons in the history of the World Championship for all the pilots. "Everyone's eyes are open to how competitive this season will be. There was lots of nice flying in Abu Dhabi and if you remove the anomalies, a lot of pilots will be up there. You've got to fly so cleanly this year. If you get a penalty for anything, you might as well pack up and go home because your race will be done." McLeod concluded.