Mikael Brageot has been part of the Red Bull Air Race since 2014. He competed in the Challenger Class in that first year, won it in 2015 and then in 2016 became the inaugural student in the Master Mentoring Program (MMP). 2017 saw his dream of being a Master Class pilot come true and even though a lot was expected, he smashed those expectations and will be one to watch in 2018.
Brageot finished with 24 points in his first season, made it into the Round of 8 four times and finished 10th in the overall standings – setting a lot of records in the process!
No Challenger pilot that has moved up to the Master Class in their debut season has ever got more than nine points. Cristian Bolton won nine points this year. Petr Kopfstein and Peter Podlunsek collected four points each in 2016. François Le Vot and Juan Velarde failed to score in their first season in 2015.
With 24 points Brageot would've finished above Nigel Lamb in 2015 – who was coming off a World Championship winning season. He's also been one of the quickest in some Free Practice sessions, but struggles with consistency – which is to be expected considering it's his first season in the top flight.
Brageot, who is the youngest Master Class pilot currently, takes it all in his stride. " We had so many amazing moments in our first season," said Brageot, who believes it all came together from the start. "Abu Dhabi was pretty special – we had the new paint scheme, the team all together, and a good result with our first points on the board. The momentum really picked up in Budapest. It was the first time through to the Round of 8 and flying under the bridge was a huge highlight for me! Porto was our top result, with an amazing crowd, and a brilliant atmosphere. I just can't wait to see what next season brings. Hopefully plenty of highs like this year," he exclaimed.
Brageot also claims the biggest surprise for him and the team came away from the hangars and track. "We were as prepared as we could be. The MMP really put me in a great position to start the season and Breitling were a huge support. I think if you ask my team the biggest surprise was our first breakfast together when I dipped my croissant in my coffee – so French!" Brageot joked.
The French pilot didn't have it all his own way though, in only his second race he had to focus and overcome issues in the track. "The lowest point that really springs to mind was in San Diego with the complications we had. The issue came during a fundamental part of the race week, and with only completing one run through the track it gave us very little hope of coming away with a good result. That was our worst result of the season and we hope we can avoid any situation like this in the future, but on the upside we did manage to compete in the race and not come last," he explained.
So with a debut season to remember, what does Brageot think will happen in 2018? "We'll be aiming for a podium and building on the lessons learned. The key will be to keep flying safe and clean but pushing the limits to reach the next rung on the ladder. I will keep the same amazing team I have, who are all striving for the same goals and passionate about everything we're doing - this is so important – teamwork makes the dream work!"
Brageot's first taste of the 2018 season will come on 02-03 February in Abu Dhabi, get your tickets HERE.