Sonka Out In Chiba

World Champion’s bid to retain his title ends with a knock out in Heat 6.

It’s been a race to remember already and it’s only the Round of 14. Matt Hall and Yoshihide Muroya are both through, but the current leader of the Championship is out! Here’s how the heats broke down…

Heat 1
Ben Murphy v Yoshihide Muroya

Murphy was the guinea pig that had the task of flying in the track first. This means every other pilot watches his run to see what the conditions are like. He flew beautifully and was clean. He chose the easier lines and set a respectable time of 57.897s for Muroya to beat. Muroya was behind at the first two splits and then the light turned green at the third split. However, when he crossed the finish line he’d lost energy and was just 0.015s behind Murphy. But the home hero had done enough to progress as the Fastest Loser. 

Heat 2
Pete McLeod v Matthias Dolderer

McLeod set a fantastic time of 56.451s but after he crossed the Finish Gate he was given a one second penalty for crossing the Track Limit Line, but it was still a competitive time for Dolderer to beat. The German pilot looked great in the first half of the track, but at the halfway point he was losing energy in the track and his lead was slipping away. As he finished his run Dolderer was 0.958s behind and his Race Day was over. 

Heat 3
Mika Brageot v Petr Kopfstein

Brageot had to make a small correction as he went into Gate 2 and that cost him energy and made the Chicane slightly ragged. He finished with a time of 59.021s, which left the door open for Kopfstein. So keen to get into the track, Kopfstein exceeded the Start Speed Limit and was given a DNF at the end of his run. A bitter disappointment for the Czech pilot whose Race Day ended early. 

Heat 4
Cristian Bolton v François Le Vot

Bolton had to make up for lost sessions, he had two less than everyone else due to a technical issue. He flew clean and smooth and set a time of 58.252s, which left Le Vot with a lot to do. Le Vot was so smooth in the track and hardly had to make any corrections. He was 0.844s faster than Bolton and booked his place in the Round of 8. 

Heat 5
Michael Goulian v Matt Hall

Goulian was wide in the second pylon of the Chicane which killed his speed. He couldn’t recover from that and when he stopped the clock it read 58.032s. Hall was disappointed with his Qualifying run and had to work on the raceplane. He was cleaner than Goulian in the Chicane and was 0.092s ahead at the first split time. He kept it smooth and was getting faster and faster and crossed the Finish Gate 1.003s ahead of Goulian.

Heat 6
Nicolas Ivanoff v Martin Sonka 

Ivanoff has been ‘behind the plane’ all week and even though he was smooth and clean in the track, he was only able to set a time of 58.518s for Sonka to beat. Sonka has been in top form since arriving in Japan. He was flying smoothly but at Gate 9 Sonka pulled too hard and was given a one second penalty for an over-G, ending his chance of being World Champion for a second consecutive year. 

Heat 7
Kirby Chambliss v Juan Velarde

Chambliss flew the run of his race and set an amazing time of 57.306s. Velarde, who had it all to do in the track, was green at the first split, but he was losing pace and couldn’t keep up with Chambliss’ time and crossed the Finish Gate 0.874s behind the American.

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