Abu Dhabi 2018: Round of 14 preview

A look at who’s against who in the first round of Race Day

Bolton in the track

After the long offseason, it's finally Race Day in the UAE. Here's how the Master Class pilots are lining up for the first competitive round of the 2018 season...

Heat 1
François Le Vot vs Kirby Chambliss
These two pilots faced off against each other in the Round of 14 here last year. Le Vot was the victor in that heat, but since then Chambliss has had a string of successes and will be out for revenge. Both pilots have been posting similar times here so it will be a close run thing.

Heat 2
Cristian Bolton vs Mika Brageot
Much like the heat above, these two went head-to-head last year in Abu Dhabi. They went on to have quite different seasons. Bolton was pleased with his flying yesterday, but an over-G stopped him from posting an even quicker time. Brageot has been fast all week and his confidence is sky high, and he'll feel it's his time to make it into the Final 4.

Heat 3
Ben Murphy vs Juan Velarde
Murphy has been flying consistently well since he arrived in Abu Dhabi. The newest member of the Master Class looks calm and collected in the hangar and is fast and smooth in the track. This will be his first Race Day in the Master Class so he might struggle to keep his adrenaline in check. Velarde was on the podium here last year and will be confident. The Spanish pilot will be focused and want to get to the Round of 8. He'll have to fly cleanly to get there.

Heat 4
Pete McLeod vs Yoshihide Muroya
McLeod, usually the strongest in Qualifying, had a bad day in the office. He says he has his lines worked out and knows where he can make up time. Muroya has been getting quicker and quicker all week. The current World Champion says he's forgotten about last year so he can go out there and win it again. This is his first step on the road to doing that.

Heat 5
Petr Kopfstein vs Martin Sonka
For the first time the two Czech pilots will go head-to-head in a heat. They have both been posting similar times so this one will go down to the wire. Kopfstein is on the rise and feels that it's his time to step up and get on the podium more frequently. Sonka came so close to winning the title last year that it will either inspire him to go one step further or put too much pressure on. We'll find out which one it is soon enough.

Heat 6
Nicolas Ivanoff vs Michael Goulian
Goulian has been slick and quick in the track all week. Finishing second in Qualifying will give him even more of a boost going into the Round of 14. As it's been well documented, Ivanoff hasn't had any luck in Abu Dhabi and will be flying a backup raceplane. He'll be hoping something goes his way, but will be using today as training for Cannes.

Heat 7
Matt Hall vs Matthias Dolderer
Hall was getting quicker and quicker as the sessions went on, but he exceeded the G-limit on his first Qualifying run which saw him at the bottom of the timesheet with a DNF. Hall quickly learns from his mistakes so he'll have put that behind him and be ready today. Yesterday Dolderer set the track record but his flight looked close to collecting a penalty. If he tries to repeat his lines today he could see himself with two seconds added to his time. This heat will be the one to watch!

The Round of 14 begins at 14:00 local time. Don't miss a moment of the action – follow every second HERE.

Abu Dhabi 2018 Round of 14 Startlist