Ice-cool Hall's Perfect Performance
The Australian pilot executed his gameplan perfectly under intense pressure and saving his best run for the Final 4, knowing that nothing but a win was the result he needed to keep his World Championship title hopes alive.
Martin Sonka, who is now leading the championship, had a nightmare final run. The Czech pilot had been sitting at the top of the standings since Qualifying, but his chance of a win was dashed when he clipped a pylon at Gate 4, an error which pushed him down to fourth.
The Final 4 was one of the tensest in the sport’s history. Pete McLeod was first to fly. He knocked out Michael Goulian in the Round of 8 and in his final run, was looking prepped to set a fantastic time. But after putting in a blistering time, his run was under review. McLeod was given a one second penalty for crossing the Track Limit Line, giving him a final time of 58.966s, and setting the benchmark for the final flying session.
Ben Murphy in only his third Final 4 appearance, flew after McLeod. Murphy had beaten Juan Velarde to claim his berth in the Final 4. His time was looking good, but an over-G at Gate 5 added a second. However the former Red Arrows pilot kept his line, stayed calm and beat McLeod’s time by just 0.009s putting him briefly on top of the timesheet. If Murphy and McLeod had avoided those penalties they would have been sitting first and second on the podium.
Hall flew third, having knocked Cristian Bolton out in Heat 10 of the Round of 8. He looked as though he may have made a slight mistake early in the run, but managed to make a lightning-fast correction, without losing too much energy in his raceplane. Hall topped both Murphy and McLeod on the timesheets.
Sonka had ended Chambliss’ Race Day in the Round of 8 and looked good for his first win of the season, but that early pylon hit cost the Czech pilot dearly, as he placed fourth in the Final 4, losing out on the win and a place on the podium.
Sonka and Hall have both skipped over Muroya, as Sonka now sits on top of the standings with 65 points. Hall is hot on his heels, only four points behind, with Muroya now 10 points behind the leader. Going into the final race of the season, we're seeing a very similar scenario to 2018. Who will come out on top? We’ll find out in Chiba.