Michael Goulian is in the form of his Red Bull Air Race career. At the halfway stage he is sitting just two points off the leader, Matt Hall, and has been in the Final 4 in every race.
And out of those four visits to the Final 4 he's been on the podium three times – once in every spot.
Goulian got off to the best start possible in 2018 in Abu Dhabi. In the Free Practice sessions he was always in the top three and he was second in Qualifying. But there were whispers around the hangars that we'd seen this with Goulian on countless occasions, where he'd flown beautifully in the build up to Race Day, but then miss out on a strong finish due to pressure or a self-inflicted mistake. But this year it's different. Goulian went on and flew three perfect runs to take his first race victory in nine years.
And it wasn't just a one-off, The American and his team found themselves in a similar situation in both Cannes and Chiba. It was only the last race in Budapest, where he had a terrible Final 4 run and missed out on his fourth podium in a row.
So what's changed for Goulian this year? He'll say nothing has changed, it's a path he and his team have been on for many years, it's just taken this long to get everything right. "We had expected to be in the position we are in now last year, and when it didn't happen, we were a little perplexed as to why," said Goulian. "We made some changes to how we did things, and it's working. We are confident in the whole performance of the team and the plane, and we're just going to continue to do exactly what we've been doing, and not change it."
Goulian went on to say that the big difference this year is consistency and his ability to adapt has also helped. "I'm happy with is the consistency and the ability to ratchet my time up or down depending on who's flying in front of me. I've not been able to do that and fly cleanly, but also fast, and that's the difference," he explained.
Although he sounds extremely confident, Goulian's team ensures he keeps a level head, which is clear in his interviews; he doesn't let himself get carried away. "At the start of the year, if you told me I was going to be in the Final 4 four times in a row, I would've thought you were crazy," he joked. "I was definitely disappointed with not being on the podium in Budapest as I thought I had a chance to win, but I couldn't complain about a Final 4."
Having the season of his life, Goulian is ready to say he has his eyes on the prize this season. "We have a long-term view to win this championship and Matt [Hall] and I advanced even further away from the pack at the last round. I'll just have to fly a little cleaner in Kazan.
"The team is moving on all six cylinders, we're getting along great and everything is running well so if we just keep on this path we're going to have a great season – we've already had a great season – and we just want to keep on going," concluded Goulian.
You can see Goulian try to get back on top of the standings in Kazan on 25-26 August by getting your tickets HERE.