Wind direction and zero G could be the critical factors out on the racetrack in the UAE capital today, says our man on the inside.
As we gear up for the first of the Round of 14 head-to-heads, we get a quick overview of where the pilots could be gaining or losing time. There are two sweeping gate turns that require the pilots to pull hard on the G, but the trick lies in getting the balance just right so they don't lose too much speed. Whoever takes the Marina Turn and Corniche Corner with the optimum line will be successful here today.
This track comparison shows 4 of the pilots from yesterday and highlights the different race lines. This will be key in the head-to-head format and could be the clincher for the winners from the Round of 14 and Round of 8.
Yesterday's Qualifying saw the wind switch from south to north – and this meant a switch also in race strategy. As pilots flew down to gate 3 at the Marina end of the Corniche, they had the wind behind them and we saw a rise in altitude from many as they capitalised on the tailwind boost.
Today's track conditions are calm – 3kts recording on the wind monitor – and coming from the south once again. It will be a game of tactics out there in the two head-to-head rounds, with pilots knowing that they need to win their heats if they want to progress to the Final 4.
Another astute observation relates to the potential for 'zero G' flight. When the pilots achieve a situation where their raceplanes are neither creating lift nor drag, they can benefit from being able to quickly accelerate. It's visible when the pilot puts the nose of the raceplane in an upward attitude in level flight, above the horizon, and this buys them a few seconds in which they can get some extra knots on the airspeed indicator. We spotted this from Kirby Chambliss yesterday and will be looking out for it again today.