The first land-based race of the season is here and the pilots have had their first taste of the track. Here are their thoughts and there's a lot of talk of the first standing start of the season...
"The track, I think, is going to be one where the pilot is going to have to take some extreme angles to be fast, which means you have to be risky – so come Race Day, you might see some gate hits. The standing start adds another dimension to it. And this is one off a turf runway, so there's some bouncing going along and getting the raceplane in the air is important. All of the teams have thought about it before they came here, so we have to trust our tactics."
"It was excellent in the track and I really liked that there's only been a short break between the races. We're still on a roll from the last race and it's great to be back in Austria – especially for us as it's so close to home. It's very special. There's the standing start as well, which is new for this season, which is great and I like the track."
"I enjoyed the track today, I had a fun time out there and I'm pretty happy with the results from the first session and I'm looking forward to getting back out there. The standing start is all about being organised before getting airborne and then being able to position your brain in the track straight away because you go from sitting on the ground to racing in a heartbeat."
"It's always good Austria, it's a beautiful country and we love the landscape. Regarding our first Free Practice today, we are back on track and it's unusual because it's the first race over land this year. The second point is that it is the first standing start of the season. There are a lot of points we have to take into account. It's busy, but we are happy with our times after FP1."
"It's a nice track to race in and set in this wide, open airfield. I think I'm good at standing starts, so we will see what happens over the next Free Practice session."
François Le Vot
"I thought the track was just fantastic, it's very pleasant. The visibility could be better, I wish we had blue sky, but I think it will come. Other than that it's a fantastic playground and I had a lot of fun. The static start makes it very challenging to find a good setting for the engine from the beginning, but I think I prefer them, it makes it very race orientated from the very beginning. Even before you climb into the raceplane you have to prepare for the Start Gate."
"If the rain keeps coming it's going to be hard to do a standing start; the raceplane will be sliding across the grass. Today we did alright, but we're a little bit off. But, I know where we made the mistakes and we're optimistic. I like the track, it's not super hard, but it's alright."
"I'm happy with the flight, the track is very interesting. The standing start for us is always very challenging and it's a fun track to fly, because there are many different lines we can choose. In the first flight we covered our expectations, I flew according to our plan so I'm happy."
"It's very interesting, there is a big variety in lines and we tested a few things already. It's only one session so far so there's not a lot to say, but it's quite cool. The special thing about this track is you have to be race ready from before the start. The engine has to be set up correctly because there is not time to adjust it before you enter the track. It's important to start right and gain as much speed as possible. It's going to be very exciting."
"It's a nice track, obviously with the standing start there's quite a lot going on to get your raceplane set up, so we were probably a little slow off the blocks, but by the end we were getting a feel for it. This is going to be an interesting race, there's a couple of ways you can play certain sections so I think we'll see some interesting tactics coming out from the team, but to be honest it's nice to be here in Austria, the home of the Air Race and I'm looking forward to a great race."
"It's a short break from Russia, but it's great to be back in the track. We're back doing static starts, which makes it different. It's a wide open track, there's a lot of space and I think it's going to take a little bit of time to get the feel for it and there's definitely some areas to improve on so we can start chasing the right line."
"The track is super nice, I expected it to be harder, but we'll see. It's only the first day and everybody is trying different lines so I think the times will improve by a lot from one day to another. I think the times will be pretty fast here."
"I think we should have one race in Austria every year, I think it's part of what Air Race is all about. The static start is always a big challenge for the pilot because the weather conditions can affect you. The distance between the starting point and the Start Gate will also be a big challenge and how to build the speed on the raceplane. The more speed you can get at Gate 1, the better you will fly. It's a good challenge."
"The track is really wide and you have a lot of possibilities of different lines, so it's hard to know the strategy after only one session. We've adjusted the stick settings, which aren't good, so we'll have to change that. I'll now have to analyse all the data and see where I can improve. With Free Practice your second and third runs are faster. I tried to make sure my start speed was the same, but it didn't really work and that's what makes this track challenging. There's a lot of work in a really short time before you're in the track."
The Master Class pilots will have Free Practice 3 and then Qualifying tomorrow afternoon – catch all the action HERE.