Over land or over water?

The pilots discuss what they prefer when it comes to the racetracks

Velarde prefers water

As in any motorsport the pilot/driver/rider will have their preferred tracks. Some will like the sprint tracks with long straights and few corners; others will prefer the tight twisty tracks. In the Red Bull Air Race World Championship there is another element that divides pilots opinions and that is if the racetack is over land or over water.

The pilots will be busy preparing for next month's Porto race. It will be the last race of the season over water, before the series moves on to the speedway tracks over land in both Lausitz, Germany and Indianapolis, USA.

The 2017 season has seen the biggest swing towards water-based tracks since the series returned in 2014. By the end of this year the pilots would've flown over six water-based tracks and only two land-based tracks. In previous season it has been split evenly with four over water and four over land. Last year it was split 3/5 in favour of land tracks, so this year is unique.

"I prefer the water tracks," said Master Class pilot Juan Velarde. "I can see the gates clearer in the track. The contrast between the blue water and the red and white of the pylons makes it easier for me," he explained.

Current World Champion Matthias Dolderer has a different opinion. "The visual references are much easier over land. It can be difficult to judge the height over water, especially if the water is glassy. It's hard to get perception. And if the sun is low it can cause glare on the track," he said.

Matthias Dolderer prefers flying over land ©Marc Mueller/RBAR

Michael Goulian also prefers the land tracks. "I remember flying at Ascot and you're so close to the fans, you can actually hear them, which is a great feeling and really spurs you on," he explained. "The different tracks are part of the game, I feel I can build on the land tracks because there's a better sense of speed and I can really feel how well I'm flying through the track," Goulian added.

Michael Goulian is another land lover and will be excited to get back to the speedway tracks ©Joerg Mitter/RBAR

As this season is so tight, only two points separate the top four in the World Championship standings it's all to play for. Whoever can make the transition from water to land the easiest stands the best chance of becoming World Champion.

Race six in Porto takes place on 02-03 September. Get your hospitality tickets HERE!