Brageot To Take Next Step
Mika Brageot has been turning heads and cited as one to watch since joining the Red Bull Air Race in the first Challenger Class season back in 2014, when he took his first race win in only his third outing.
Since then he's developed, evolved and learned a great deal. The year following his Challenger Class debut, Brageot came back stronger and took the Challenger Cup title, winning the last three races. He then moved into the Master Mentoring Program under the tutelage of 2014 World Champion Nigel Lamb. Brageot's next move was joining the Master Class in 2017, where he finished 10th overall and secured a spot in the Round of 8 an impressive four times. More recently, in 2018 Brageot finished fourth overall and claimed his first podium finish, grabbing second place in Budapest.
Now that the 2019 season is officially in session, we sat down with the young French pilot to discover how he's set to take his next big step in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship…
You’re getting closer and closer to that first win. What steps are you putting in place to make sure that happens?
Mika Brageot: We have always, from the beginning, made sure we had a clear plan during race week to get the best out of the plane and me with a good team set up and support. This has grown and adapted as we have learned lessons over the last two seasons. This year we are stepping it up further and have a very positive way to move forward as a unit, looking to reach the Final 4 at each race, which is a good foundation to getting that first win!
Are you training more in terms of exercise and flying?
MB: Exercises are mandatory to keep you well especially when flying under G in the track at +11G.
Also, next to Air Race, I’m flying in the French Aerobatics National Team with +/-10G , so I’ve no spare time and/or excuses to skip a training in flight or on ground.
The main objective is to build to correct muscles to use them as a tool to counteract the effect of Gs – we’re not using an anti-G belt or suit. I used to ride my mountain bike a lot, but with a very busy schedule I have switched to train a little more myself by running and visiting the gym… I’m a tall guy, so I need to make sure I keep tabs on my weight but it’s a tough balance to achieve the optimum. I’ve got to be careful not to build too much muscle as it weighs more!
What are the team members doing to help you?
MB: My technical team are always thinking of ways to improve the performance of the raceplane. We have it pretty much where we want it in terms of weight and aerodynamics at the moment, but we plan to improve the handling over the next few weeks during this break. They never stop thinking about how we can keep improving. I also work closely with a sports psychologist who has been a great help to the development of my mental strength and to the team growth – you can never underestimate the power of the mind and how it effects the execution of a plan.
Is it hard waiting for that first win?
MB: It's often the case that we are one of the fastest during Training, so we know it’s a realistic goal. We have come close a couple of times and it only makes the win more tangible. So we aim to enjoy the ride first and foremost, and then the win should happen organically. We have to be careful not to put too much pressure on ourselves, we know the aircraft is fast, we just need everything to come together at the right moment!
Are you going to be the first former Challenger to win a Master Class race? Who else might beat you to it?
MB: I hope so! But the win could come at any time for any of the other guys – the sport is so close these days and almost all of the previous Challengers have shown good form already this year. We’ve got to be at the top of our game during all of our flights to make it happen!