The new Challengers on race one

The two new pilots talk about their first experience competing in the Air Race

Davidson in the cockpit

Two new pilots joined the Challenger Class for 2018, Dario Costa of Italy and South Africa's Patrick Davidson. They didn't have to wait long for their first race experience, with both competing in last week's season opener in Abu Dhabi.

Costa flew cleanly and finished fourth in the race, whereas Davidson collected a penalty for incorrect level flying and finished sixth. However, without that penalty he would've finished on the podium.

It was the first step on the road of their Air Race careers, so we asked both pilots how they felt after their debut race? "It was a really interesting experience, there was a lot of information to take in, and people have been really, really helpful," said Davidson after his race.

Costa had mixed feelings after crossing the Gate. "I'm happy that I finished in the points in my first race. It will help in the future trying to get into the final. However, I am also disappointed as I was less than 0.5s away from finishing on the podium in my first race," said the Italian pilot.

Both pilots had a lot to learn in a very short time, but were able to focus on Race Day and handled themselves brilliantly. "I was obviously quite nervous on the morning of the race," said Davidson. "I had a great run, it was my best net time, but unfortunately I had a penalty at Gate 5 – it must've been pretty close, but it's all a learning curve and I enjoyed it a lot."

With Costa finishing so close to the podium he feels he might've been able to push that little bit harder. "I chose to be smooth and clean in the race. Earlier in the week I had over-Gd a lot and didn't want to do that in the race. Overall I'm very happy with my sector times. Actually, looking at some of the sector times I was fastest in four sectors, while Flo and Daniel [Ryfa] shared the other 10 sector times," Costa explained.

Costa contemplates his run ©Predrag Vuckovic/RBAR

Now that the pair have flown in their first race they are already looking ahead to their next race. "It's going to be an interesting season," said Davidson. "We're going to some new venues where the other guys haven't flown as well, and with the new raceplanes it could make it a more level playing field, so hopefully I'll be able to do better," he added.

Costa will be competing in Cannes and already has his plan on what he'll do between now and then. "I will fly as much as possible and also work on my mental and physical preparation everyday. That way I will be able to compete with the best," Costa concluded.

Both pilots will be racing at Cannes on 21-22 April register your interest for tickets HERE.