The pilots of the Red Bull Air Race put on a Master Class performance today as they flew two practice sessions and Qualifying. Here are their first thoughts of the 2017 Chiba track...
"It's a nice, technical track. I don't like how close the safety line is to the vertical turning gate. It's a very interesting track and you don't have a second to rest. Tomorrow we will fly a similar line and we are confident going into the race. I will try and sleep well tonight."
"It's a really good track with a lot of possibilities for different lines, especially if the wind changes. In my second run I thought there was a problem with the engine, so I tried to adjust the mixture while I was in the track. I got disorientated and had to pull out of the track. But I put in a good time in Qualifying and I will be ready."
"I think it was a good flight and quite solid. There is some pressure at a home race, but it's better when I'm flying – when I'm in the cockpit, it's hard work but also relaxing. I just play my game, and then after I fly I realise there are 35,000 people watching. I think we will aim for a similar kind of flight tomorrow, but there is lots of room where we can shave off time."
"The track is interesting, the safety line is close to the gates, but we just have to deal with it. For us it was difficult today, to DQ in Free Practice cost us some time in the track. We're up against Kirby tomorrow and we were only 0.4s faster than us today so anything could happen tomorrow."
"My first run was much better, but on the last vertical turn I crossed the safety line, then it was quite tough to concentrate for the second run, but it looks like we succeeded as we finished in eighth. I am really super satisfied."
"I learnt from my Free Practice sessions and tightened up my run where I could. The wind was down in Qualifying so I could take advantage. I also put in a good time in the first run, so I could take more risks in the second and go faster. The track this year is a bit more compressed than it has been in the last two years, which I like, it suits me. Until now I've not been able to keep up with Yoshi, Martin and the other front runners this year."
"I'm not really satisfied with my flying today. I tried to fly as clean as I could during Qualifying, but in the first run I crossed the safety line and then I tried to be more conservative in the second run, so it was not so good. For tomorrow I have to fly as fast as I can and I will be the person that has to fly first. Hopefully I'll get to fly three times."
"It took time today to find the rhythm of the track. I flew solidly, but we've got to work on Gates 7 and 8. That's tonight's job for the team. I know my raceplane has a 54.5s lap in it, I just need to fly it right."
"I wanted to put in a good first lap today, but I crossed the safety line and was disqualified. I flew well and we're pleased, but we're still down in sixth, so we need to find that half second somewhere in the track."
"We did exactly what we planned to do today. We took it easy in the first run so I could set a good time and then try harder in the second run, but I crossed the safety line – that's life! It's a tight track, which I like, the south part is very demanding, but it's good."
"The track is challenging and it's a sporty track. The wind picked up for the later sessions and even though it was blowing the same way, you really had to think about how you were going to fly it and change your lines. I like the track."
François Le Vot
"It's a pleasant track. It was easier than I thought it was going to be so that was a good surprise. I applied exactly what we had planned in the track. My times were consistent but we have a problem. I lose a second when the plane stalls, but we know it's a problem. I'm happy with my flying today."
"I'm happy I got through with one pylon hit, I've been struggling in the plane a bit today. It's a good time and we've been consistent. We can go faster, we just need to let it happen. I think it was possible to get 54.7s in Qualifying, I was on for that time when I hit the pylon. I wasn't pushing as hard as I could, but I wanted to make sure I got a clean time."