Race Rewind: Chiba 2016

Chiba was the destination for round three of the 2016 season and it turned out to be a race to remember

Muroya wins his home race

The teams arrived nice and early to work on their raceplanes and get ready for the second race over water, and the only race in open water, out in Tokyo Bay.

By the time round three was here, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship had dealt with a 'storm of the century' in Abu Dhabi, snow in Spielberg and now high winds in Chiba. This cut short Qualifying – meaning that the Round of 14 was going to be dictated by the World Championship Standings.

It also meant that the pilots would only have two Free Practice sessions before they were racing. So it was going to be a test to see who could find the fastest lines the quickest.

Matt Hall was top in Free Practice 1 and local hero Yoshihide Muroya was first in Free Practice 2. Pilots often talk of the pressure of the home race but it seemed to inspire Muroya who was the only pilot left from the class of '09 that hadn't taken a race win.

Chiba 2016 in pictures

With Free Practice 3 and Qualifying cancelled due to high winds, it was straight into the Round of 14 for the pilots. Muroya was up against Pete McLeod. Muroya put in a slow time, but due to the aggressiveness of McLeod's flying the Canadian picked up a DNF for exceeding the G-limit giving Muroya a pass to the Round of 8. Due to an unexpected illness Nicolas Ivanoff didn't fly, giving his heat rival Juan Velarde access to the Round of 8.

Michael Goulian also succumbed to the G-limit and was out after letting Nigel Lamb through. Hannes Arch went through as the fastest loser after his close fought battle with Martin Sonka – who was the only pilot to fly under 1:05 in the Round of 14.

The Round of 8 took its share of casualties as well. Both Matthias Dolderer and Matt Hall were both out for exceeding the G-limit, while Hannes Arch couldn't pull back his one second penalty for exceeding the start limit. Juan Velarde also fell to Martin Sonka, who had been flying perfectly all day.

Nigel Lamb was to fly first in the Final 4. He set a time of 1:05.734, it was the time to beat. Local hero Yoshihide Muroya was next into the track and set the second fastest time of the day with a 1:04.992. Although two more pilots were still to fly, Muroya had guaranteed himself a podium at his home race.

Kirby Chambliss was third to fly and couldn't beat the Japanese pilot's time, he was quicker than Lamb and was also going to finish on the podium.

Last to fly was Martin Sonka, who had already flown the fastest time of the day – he was going to have to work hard if he was going to beat Muroya. At the first two splits Sonka was the quicker pilot and flying well. At the third split he had fallen 0.154s behind Muroya, he pushed had but was unable to get back into the green, handing the win to Muroya.

Muroya was visibly emotional winning at home and was quick to thank his fans and the team that had supported him. Sonka had also claimed his highest ever finish with a second place and Chambliss took the third step on the podium.

All the action from Chiba 2016