A changing landscape

Different races create different issues for the pilots, here’s what’s up next

Arch in Spielberg last year

At Ascot we saw the first race of the season take place over land, and it certainly brought up some talking points amongst the pilots, fans and experts of the Red Bull Air Race.

The pilots were pleased to be flying over land again, Nigel Lamb especially likes it because: "you get a better, more exciting sensation of speed. It's easier to judge height and easier to know whether or not you're on your planned racing line."

The problems begin to occur when a pilot is off his line and has to start making corrections. "When you make a mistake over land it's a lot harder to get back on your optimum race line," explained Red Bull Air Race expert, Mike Mangold. "There are obstacles in the way and you can't see as well. That's why Hannes pulled out [Arch performed a Safety Climb Out (SCO) during Qualifying in Ascot], because he had lost where he was in the track," he added.

During the Ascot race there was a bigger spread of times and that's because if the pilot needs to correct his race line, it's going to cost him. "If you make a mistake over water you correct your path and just fly straight to the next gate," said Mangold. "You can't do that at any of the land tracks. Make a mistake and it's a lot more costly," he explained.

The issue of being off the racing line and trying to make up time will be even more prominent in Spielberg. The elevation over the Spielberg racetrack is 65m, so apart from the trees and obstacles the pilots will have to check they're at the right height as well as the right line. Another consideration will be that they'll have to be careful about flying too high through the gates.

"Spielberg is a special track," said Peter Besenyei. "You're in amongst the mountains and the height difference between the gates makes for a really interesting race," he concluded.

The Spielberg race is taking place on September 5-6, book your tickets HERE to make sure you're there.