Chiba 2019 Reactions: Master Class FP 1 & 2

It's the beginning of the final. Here’s what the Master Class pilots thought of their first sessions in the track

There are only five more flying session before the 2019 Red Bull Air Race World Champion is named, but there's still work to be done with another practice sessions and Qualifying still to go before the final race day. Here’s what the pilots thought of their first taste of the Chiba track…

Martin Sonka 
“It’s amazing to be back in the track in the raceplane and fly in Chiba. And after the long break since Balaton it’s just incredible and I’m just enjoying every minute in the aeroplane. We are just trying to find the best trajectory, but due to the wind changing it’s hard to work out the best tactics for tomorrow, today. But we will see what conditions we have.”

Matt Hall
“I was hoping to be a bit quicker, the first flight didn’t go as well as I expected. We had a few technical issues inside the plane I was working on. The second flight felt a lot better, but still not quite as fast as I want to be. I wasn't flying as nice as I want to either. We’re up there, but we’ve got a bit more to get.”

Yoshihide Muroya
“It’s really fun to fly in the track again. I think I’m satisfied with FP1 and 2, and I know the tactics for tomorrow. It’s great to see tons of fans at the beach, so let’s hope we have good weather and put on a good race. I will handle everything and go get the win.”

Ben Murphy
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’ve done a lot of work in the preparation for this track, but we can now go away, study our results. It was good to be in amongst the pylons, and we have some work to do before the race, but looking forward to it. We got that good result in Hungary because all the processes, the aeroplane and the tactics came together. The idea for this race is to replicate exactly that and see if we can get one place higher.”

Michael Goulian
“It’s been nice to be in the track – it’s going to be more technical than people originally gave credit to and there’s definitely some flying to do if you’re going to fly it well. It’s not a Budapest track where it’s straight up and straight down. This week is going to be about managing the heat. The aeroplane isn’t happy in conditions like this – the engine gets hot, the pilots get hot and it’s just a matter of managing everything to be strong on Sunday.”

Nicolas Ivanoff
“It’s good to be back in the track, but the flight today was really hard for me because after a long gap it takes time to get a good feeling in the plane. I have to learn and push more to improve. I want to enjoy the race and do well. We aren’t going to be doing it anymore, so if I can smile during the track it’ll be perfect.”

Juan Velarde
“I’m very happy so far. I think we had a very good game plan and clear ideas. We’re trying different things and I’m flying well. It’s just the start, but it’s very good. The weather conditions are going to be the key factors in this race, but we’ll see what happens.”

Mika Brageot
“The weather we have today was fantastic. It’s a good track, a busy track, so you need lots of tactics. It’s new, so we need new thinking, but it will be good. There are a lot of emotions here, but once we enter the race atmosphere we have to focus on flying the track as fast as I can and get the best the result. We are targeting the Final 4 and if we win it’ll be a great result.”

Pete McLeod
“It’s great to be here in Japan and back in the track. I like the track, it’s a little tighter than it has been here in the past. I always thought it was a little bit too stretched out in previous years, but I think this track is suited to my style. But it’s calm out there today and it’s meant to get windy, which will change things."

Kirby Chambliss
“It’s a beautiful day down on the track with very little wind. There are some places that if the wind blows it’ll make it pretty interesting, so we could have some fun. Right now it’s fine, but going from Gate 2 to 3 it’s tight and if the wind is coming from a certain direction it’ll make it a bear!”

Cristian Bolton 
“We found an oil leak this morning, so we did a test flight and we couldn’t fix it [in time for Free Practice], so we are working on it and that’s why we’re not able in FP1 and 2. Oil is a highly sensitive item on the plane – especially in the engine –  so we need to take care of that. Safety is a priority for us. We working hard and the plan is to have the plane ready for tomorrow.”

François Le Vot
“It’s always very pleasant to go back to the track and I had a lot of fun. I came very well prepared, as always, but now I need to improve my lines and the difficult part begins. We have to deal with the environment, we have no leverage on it, the only thing we can do is foresee what is going to happen and adapt to it the best we can." 

Petr Kopfstein
“It’s been a while since we had our last race, but I’m getting used to the feeling again. We tried two strategies and still have a third one, but I’m feeling good and we now where we can speed up. The most difficult part is from Gate 2 to 3 and the VTMs done right. The flat turn is quicker, but you can get a penalty. It’ll be who can perform the risky strategy better.”

Matthias Dolderer
“It was a lot of fun to be in the track again, especially here in Japan. The track is challenging, but today the weather is still fine. For now, I am quite satisfied. You always have to accept the weather conditions as they are. You prepare well, but you always have to be able to react spontaneously. It is the same for all pilots and therefore we are also very confident.”
 

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