Analyst's first thoughts on Abu Dhabi 2019
The season opener this weekend in Abu Dhabi will be an extremely tight affair. The 2019 racetrack is exactly the same as last year, meaning that all 14 Master Class pilots have experienced the track and can build on the knowledge that they gained in 2018.
But before the pilots begin Free Practice on Thursday morning, we spoke to the Red Bull Air Race analyst, who offered his opinion on where he thought this race could be won.
The track is 4km long, consisting of 15 gates over two laps. The Master Class pilots will enter the track at 200kts and the Challengers at 180kts.
"The main focus this weekend will be on Gate 3," said our analyst. "Last year there were lots of over-G and exceeding the maximum G penalties at this gate. There are two options for the pilots here. Firstly they can fly the VTM straight up, which they will do if they fly straight towards the gate after the chicane. Or they can fly a significant setup turn after leaving the final pylon of the chicane and fly flatter after Gate 3," he explained.
Our insider also believes that Gate 7 could cause problems for the pilots. "There is a high risk of an over-G at Gate 7. This is because the trajectory from Gate 4 to Gate 7 (11 to 14 on the second lap) is quite a straight line and the raceplane will accelerate," he said.
Again, like at Gate 3, there are two ways to set up for Gate 7. "The first option would be for the pilot to fly through Gate 6 and then pull a hard turn before Gate 7. Or the pilot can manoeuvre a setup turn before Gate 7, fly straight through and then pull a hard turn after Gate 7. We could see a difference in trajectory between Lap 1 and Lap 2 as the pilot will want to maintain the raceplane's energy for the second lap," he concluded.
The pilots have training in the track today with Free Practice beginning tomorrow.