Abu Dhabi 2017 Reactions: Master Class Race Day

What a start to the season 2017 is going to be one for the history books

Sonka celebrates his victory

The gauntlets have been thrown, the markers laid down, the first race of 2017 has happened and here's what the pilots of the Master Class thought...

1st Martin Sonka
"I'm super happy, the whole race week went very well and the team was a perfect machine, I couldn't be happier. It means I've finally won my first race and it's given me some confidence. Hopefully this is the start of a new story."

2nd Juan Velarde
"It feels like a victory for me and the whole team. Just to make it through to the Final 4 was a success, to be on the podium is a huge success, and second even more. It's great to have this result in the first race. Everything is coming together, last season we had very good moments, but we were very inconsistent. I needed to manage the pressure in important times. We've reviewed internal processes, changed many things, not just me, but the team, working in a smoother way. I felt more relaxed for this race, the most relaxed race since I started racing."

3rd Pete McLeod
"It's great; I can't ask for a better start. It's so competitive out there, and I wanted to pick up where I left off last season. I flew clean and disciplined which was enough. I made some mistakes, but that's the first race of the season, mistakes are to be expected. I now want to work on being faster. Today was a good day, my team made it easy for me to go out and fly. Everyone says it's a team effort, and it all kind of came together."

4th Matthias Dolderer
"It was a good week, it's good to be back in the racetrack, and today's race saw us back in the Final 4. My time would've been almost good enough to win, but I have to work on why I got the penalty. San Diego is next and we look forward to it."

5th Nicolas Ivanoff
"It wasn't a super start. I did not find the right feeling through the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre today. I will try to do some training just before San Diego to recapture a better feeling again in the raceplane."

6th Michael Goulian
"My goal today was to get in the Final 4 so I'm a little disappointed. I was out there going for it but I stalled at the top of the second vertical turn, which is where I think I lost it. I made some really small corrections in the track, and they would've cost me the time. I'm happy not only with my raceplane and my team, but also my flying. We're on a really good trajectory and going to keep going."

7th Cristian Bolton
"I'm really happy, as a team we wanted to reach the Round of 8, we accomplished that and we just enjoyed the Round of 8. We tried our best against Matthias, and I flew the right line. We didn't do badly. We're putting a lot of pressure on the other pilots and we're here to stay!"

8th Francois Le Vot
"I think we're on a very good path. Apparently what we did to improve the aircraft over the winter has shortened the gap in the times significantly and it was a very satisfying Race Day."

9th Mikael Brageot
"It was a fantastic week definitely. We've learned a lot and we put together everything we wanted. We now know what to do, how to do it, and we have made our first navigation though the racing week and for sure we will be even better next time. The goal for San Diego is to go to the Round of 8 and eventually to the Final 4. We want to keep the goals as high as we can."

10th Matt Hall
"We knew all along it was going to be a hard race with the rental aircraft we were flying. Our objectives were around flying a new type of aircraft cleanly and smoothly and efficiently, so we consider it a win in our own team around achieving those goals. We were running within two seconds of the field with no mods, so I think maybe we've got a few people looking at us a little bit scared. We have only one less point than this time last year and came in second last year."

11th Kirby Chambliss
"It's unfortunate, I went out there with a good plan and my team was working well. The bad thing with this is that it really does play with your confidence, but it's not like it's the first time this has happened to me. I've won and I've lost before. San Diego is kind of my second home and we're going to bring everything we've got."

12th Petr Kopfstein
"The week started really great. We had good times in the Free Practices. In the race today Nicolas' time was not too good and we had a penalty in Qualifying yesterday, so I flew a little too conservatively, and I was focusing on the raceplane and not on the gate. But the raceplane is perfect, the team is great and we had high expectations here. We believe we're going to be in the first half of the field this year."

13th Yoshihide Muroya
"We had a very big engine issue all week and we tried to find a better setting, but it's very difficult. So today we decided to push to the limit, that was our tactic, but it didn't work. We will work hard and come back strong in San Diego."

14th Peter Podlunsek
"I think I flew really well but I got a safety line penalty. I don't know much because I haven't looked at my data yet, but I am really disappointed."