Sonka starts season where he left off
World Champion Martin Sonka has shown that he’s serious when he says he’s aiming to become only the second pilot to defend his title in the Red Bull Air Race by topping both the training sessions in the first day of flying in Abu Dhabi.
Every season the pilots get extra sessions in the track before Free Practice to blow off the cobwebs and get some last minute preparation in before the season opener on Saturday – and Sonka has already become the man to beat.
In the earlier session on Wednesday the Czech pilot set a 53.781s time – the quickest of the day – and showed his rivals that he was the man they will all have to chase. Closest to Sonka was, unsurprisingly, Matt Hall just 0.534s behind and third was Michael Goulian. It appeared to be business as usual.
It was a run of former Challengers next on the early timesheet, with François Le Vot finishing fourth, Ben Murphy fifth, Mika Brageot sixth and Cristian Bolton seventh.
In the latter session, even though Sonka was more than a second slower than his earlier time, he was still able to finish quicker than his rivals. Brageot moved up to second and Le Vot third, with Murphy fourth. The top four were split by 1.570s.
Pete McLeod finished fifth in the afternoon session with Kirby Chambliss just behind him. The rest of the Master Class pilots were unable to put in penalty free runs in their second session and finished well off the pace.
Tomorrow will see Free Practice begin and expect to see some movement of pilots up the leader board. Today was training, tomorrow it gets serious.