Peter Podlunsek was called the 'giant killer' by the Red Bull Air Race commentators in San Diego. He was given this name because he powered past Matt Hall in the Round of 14 and knocked out Michael Goulian in the Round of 8.
But he wasn't finished there, the Slovenian pilot was up against a race winner, a two-time world title holder, and the current World Champion in the Final 4. He kept his nerve and claimed second place, in only his 10th race in the Master Class.
Yoshihide Muroya won the race, with both Matthias Dolderer and Kirby Chambliss picking up penalties, allowing Podlunsek to claim the first podium of his career. After the race Podlunsek was lost for words. "It's like a dream and hard to describe my feelings at the moment," he said. "I hope it's not the last time I feel like this."
Podlunsek has one of the strongest teams in the championship, there's a togetherness about them and they all fight for their pilot, something Podlunsek was quick to point out. "I wouldn't have been standing on the podium without my team and my friends and I'm super proud of them all."
Podlunsek already has 12 championship points, eight more than he collected in the entire 2016 season, which goes to show how hard he has worked and that he will be a fierce competitor this season. However, he is controlled in his approach to the race. "We made our plan to get the fastest line and we succeeded. I was just keeping to the plan. In the Round of 8 and Final 4, I didn't want to fly to the limit. If you fly on the limit it's a short step to getting a penalty," he explained.
One of the questions everyone was asking after the race was about Podlunsek's winglets on his Edge 540. Unlike every other raceplane's winglets, these point dramatically down, and although other teams were quick to disregard them, they might change their mind now. "When we showed up with the winglets in Budapest last year some people were laughing," said Podlunsek. "But I don't think they're laughing anymore. They're really efficient, but I needed a lot of time to get used to how the raceplane flies with these winglets. Slowly I am becoming friends with the plane and we went for this style of winglet to win. You can't beat the others if you are copying them," he concluded.