Abu Dhabi 2019: Challenger Class FP1 and 2 reactions

The Challengers have experienced the track under race conditions – here’s what they thought of Free Practice

With near-perfect flying conditions, here’s what the Challengers thought of today’s flying sessions and the Abu Dhabi racetrack…

Luke Czepiela
“There’s a lot of pressure now. Especially from the young guys like Sammy – he’s fast straight away. And Florian too – who never disappoints in Free Practice. I’m doing my usual thing of picking up penalties, but the times I was getting were good. I need to be smoother and not over-G, but for Saturday I should be good. The track is simple to fly, but hard if you want to be fast because you have to open up. But it means taking a risk.”

Florian Bergér
“At the moment I’m quite happy. The first day was quite windy and bumpy, but now it’s smoother. I enjoyed being back in the track, and times are good at the moment. I will have to see about the tactics, because I think there are two ways to fly the VTM – an oblique flat one, or a vertical one. It probably depends on the wind. The track is similar to last year. I think I can use the experience from 2018, but last year I was not so comfortable from the beginning. I struggled a lot in training, and this year it’s a bit better for me, probably because I’m more used to the plane.”

Kevin Coleman
“It was really good this morning, probably the best conditions I’ve ever flown in, so that was a lot of fun. This afternoon was a little worse – I had an over-G penalty, but the net times were pretty fast. I’ve got a couple of things to work on. I need to improve on Gate 7 and I should be fine. I think I will change a couple of things for FP3 and see what happens there.”

Melanie Astles
“It was beautiful as always in Abu Dhabi. I feel really lucky to be flying here. Sammy and I didn’t fly here last year, and I’m starting to understand the track a bit more now, but the other guys have more of an advantage because they flew it many times last year. Still, the result was OK. I’ve been using a method which is more progressive this afternoon, just fly through the track, then go with a little bit more risk, then push it a bit at the end. But I still didn’t push it to the maximum, so I still have a little bit of margin. Flo is still just a little bit faster but I’m feeling quite good this year. I haven’t flown in a track for five months, which is quite a long time. But I’ve been flying a lot of Unlimited this winter, which is quite physical, and I’ve been doing a lot of sport. It came back quickly and I just relaxed and I’m not pushing anything. I’m just flying through a track, and now the game is starting.”

Dario Costa
“Yesterday I tested the VTM of the track and today I tested two of the other gates, because if you do the whole race line it’s easy to get copied, so I’m only doing it in parts. I was too conservative this afternoon, but the flight was clean and I was happy with that. The earlier flight was more efficient, but I got a penalty. Tomorrow I will try to link all my lines together, for FP3 and be ready for Qualifying. I’m not fully satisfied with my lines, so I need to check some stuff tonight, as I want to be ready for tomorrow.

Sammy Mason
“I’m feeling really good. I’ve been here for a week so I could get in the groove, and I think I’m starting to relax now. I was really happy with my first practice this morning – no penalties, having a nice time. And no pylon hits in the second Free Practice, which was the main goal. I’m honoured to be here, flying in Abu Dhabi in an Edge raceplane through pylons. I’m excited and I’m looking forward to Qualifying."

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