Speedway tracks and how they differ

The pilots of the Red Bull Air Race all have their favourite types of track. Some prefer the water-based locations while others prefer the land.

The series often has an even split of land and water-based tracks over the season. This year we've had five water-based tracks and three-land based. The unusual thing about 2018 is that all of the water-based tracks came first, with the final three being over land and the last two being at Speedway locations.

2014 World Champion Nigel Lamb always said that he preferred the tracks over land, claiming: "... you get a better, more exciting sensation of speed. It's easier to judge height and easier to know whether or not you're on your planned racing line."

When it comes to water, especially when it's smooth and unmoving, it becomes 'glassy'. This can make judging height and distance more difficult, but certain pilots state the contrast in colour between the Air Gates and water can actually make racing a little easier.

When it comes to land there are often variations in the elevation. "When terrain starts getting involved, I reckon the marginal gains tend to slide towards seat-of-your-pants flying. Natural flying ability and confidence become more important than VTM precision – but not being distracted by the terrain and still nailing the VTMs is what'll separate the boys from the men," Lamb stated.

And the difference between 'normal' land tracks and speedway tracks, the situation can change again. The speedway tracks are often in a bowl, due to the natural surroundings and the stands. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway there is permanent seating for 235,000 people and the Texas Motor Speedway can hold 181,000 fans. These grandstands can alter the track conditions for the pilots.

If the wind picks up over the race weekend the pilots need to expect some turbulence. The temperature will also cause issues for the turbulence. The ground surfaces at the speedway varies and will be at different temperatures, meaning the hot air thermals will rise at different speeds, causing a bumpy, turbulent flight.

Tracks within the speedway circuits are usually tight and technical due to the available space, so it's the pilot that can handle these tracks and the turbulent conditions that will be on the podium on Sunday 18 November.

See who comes out on top and who will be crowned World Champion at the Texas Motor Speedway on 17-18 November, get your tickets HERE.

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