Abu Dhabi 2019: Master Class Race Day reactions

Pilots offer their opinions on a blockbusting season opener

It was the perfect start to the season. A win taken by Yoshihide Muroya by just 0.003s. It's going to be one unforgettable season. Here's the final say from the pilots on what was an adrenaline pumping race...

1st Yoshihide Muroya
“It’s important to win to maximise the points, and our flights were very consistent from Free Practice 1 to the Final 4, so we’re really happy about that. The wind had shifted 180 degrees, so it was very, very difficult to get through Gate 7 today. I think maybe everyone was struggling there.”

2nd Martin Šonka
“There was another close race in Wiener Neustadt last year, not quite this close, and we were the lucky ones to be first – this time it’s Yoshi. It was a beautiful race here, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it on TV at home.”

3rd Michael Goulian
“I am super satisfied. All you can do is put yourself in a position to win by consistent flying and flying fast, and we did that today. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t, so hats off to Yoshi and Martin. But this is the way you start off a campaign – we have momentum that we carried from last year, so this race in Abu Dhabi has been a great way to start.”

4th Nicolas Ivanoff
“It’s a special story between me and Abu Dhabi. It’s the first race of the season, which is always nice and it’s a special love story between us. In 2016 I won and then last year I broke my plane and had to fly with a Challenger plane. And today I was close to be on the podium, but we had a problem in the Final 4 with the fuel pump; I couldn’t start the engine. It’s not nice to finish the race like that, but it’s a good start for the season.”

5th Matt Hall
“I know I was going to have to rely on Martin to get a penalty, which he did, but it wasn’t enough. We came into today knowing we had some issues and we were just trying to nurse the aircraft through the day. I was pushing the aircraft as hard as I could but the aircraft just isn’t happy at the moment. One of the cylinders has started having quite a big problem, it’s running 20 per cent hotter than the other cylinders and shaking, so we’ve had Lycoming working with us, so we were safe to fly today, but it was under power. Before the next race, we’ll probably have to send it to America to be overhauled.”

6th Juan Velarde
“Today was difficult because the conditions have changed from the rest of the week. We’ve been training with a north-west wind and today it was completely different. We had to change our mindset, which was especially difficult in the Round of 14. I made a mistake in the Round of 14 and turned the smoke on too early, which ran out so I had a penalty, which gave me a bad time for the Round of 8 and the pressure was on me. So I pushed all the way and made a mistake and got a penalty, but in the end, the team has done an awesome job this week and I’ve been flying fast and sixth place is a good start.”

7th Mika Brageot
“The day went pretty well, but in the Round of 8 I had to push to the limit and unfortunately I over-G’d in the VTM which gave me a one second penalty. And then we had a defect in the smoke system, which gave me another second penalty, which meant we weren’t good enough to go through. We have to focus on these two points, which are little things, but cost a lot.”

8th Kirby Chambliss
“Flying against Nicolas is never easy, and he had a pretty good run but I thought I could beat it. My objective was to fly clean, and from my side I didn’t see the penalty happen. Quite frankly I was surprised. I didn’t have any problems with the wind conditions at all. Without the penalty, for sure I would have gone on. I’ve got to go back and look at the tape, but it is what it is.”

9th Pete McLeod
“Simply put – it was a mistake on my part. I was a little surprised to hear the penalty pulling out of the track, but I’ve seen the video. It was a tough section of the track and it’s easy to throw your timing off. I may have been a bit too conservative because of the wind, but I should have flown my natural run. But I made a mistake. The positives are that the plane’s fast, Pete’s fast and I’m having fast net times, which is the first time in a year. So it’s disappointing to know I’m fast and pick up a penalty.”

10th Petr Kopfstein
"Actually the wind changed completely from yesterday, so the track is kind of different. We’re super happy with the time, because the net time was one of the quickest in the Round of 14. And after all we went through to install a new engine when we arrived here, it was a miracle that the time was what it was. We were unhappy with the penalty – although it was very small, I agreed with it when I saw the video – but without it we would have been really quick. But I am super happy that the team got the aeroplane in the air, because it was really hard to change the engine just before racing here. The engine still is not completely ready to push, but we got the max we could out of it. For the future I am pretty confident that this new engine will bring us the results." 

11th Matthias Dolderer
“I got two seconds at Gate 14, it’s a decision that was just milliseconds, but it’s still there and it’s just growing my frustration. I don’t know what we’re going to do in the upcoming months, but the task is not to lose hope. Abu Dhabi has brought a lot of new rules and the 11G rule is a huge issue and I think it’s just about who can fly as close to 11Gs, if you go too far, you’re out.”

12th François Le Vot
“It was not difficult to fly the track, and I don’t think it was that different with the wind change. That was manageable. But it’s Race Day and the tension is more present. It’s just a human factor. Maybe the stress pushed us to an error. Overall I think we’re going very good. It’s always a little bit the same in every race: I do well on the first practice day, which means that I’m very well prepared when I arrive, and I am very confident all the way to the race. Now perhaps we need a different preparation for Race Day, but I am progressing and we will continue on this path.”

13th Ben Murphy
“I couldn’t be more disappointed to be honest. We had it pretty much gifted to us on a plate after Matt got his penalty. I had a whole bunch of systems failures with the instrument panel just before I went into the hold, which shouldn’t have thrown me off my game, but I guess it did. I was flying an aggressive lap, rather than a banker lap and picked up an over-G, a pylon hit. Never hit a pylon in a race before – and didn't want to start today. The day just didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”

14th Cristian Bolton
“I don't know what happened, I will have to check my flight data. With the calm wind I think my raceplane was a bit faster than it had been and I might have turned a little bit late and that’s why I over-G’d. I was approaching that gate and felt very comfortable and when I saw 12.5G I pulled out of the track before the Race Director told me to knock it off. Of course it’s my mistake, it’s not the way to start the season, but it’s part of racing.”

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