Times Tumble As Pilots Go For Maximum Points
The Master Class pilots continued to undercut each other's times in Qualifying, with the aim of collecting those three championship points – which, at this point in the season, could make all the difference at the end of the season. Pilot after pilot set extremely competitive times, but it was Martin Sonka who ultimately came out on top.
Petr Kopfstein was second to fly and set the early pace with a 59.606s run. After Pete McLeod and Kirby Chambliss were unable to beat his time, Brit Ben Murphy flew aggressively to set a 58.583s. But Murphy was unable to hold on to the top spot for long, as Juan Velarde not only bettered Murphy’s time, but set a new track record too.
Velarde had a long wait to see if he could retain his place at the top of Qualifying. Michael Goulian, Mika Brageot, Nicolas Ivanoff and Matt Hall all came close to taking the to spot from Velarde, but couldn't match his pace.
The penultimate pilot to fly in the track was the Czech Republic's Martin Sonka. His first run saw him pick up a one second penalty for an over-G, but he reset, and in his second run flew a time of 57.820s, 0.383s faster than Velarde.
Sonka only had to wait to see if current World Championship leader Yoshihide Muroya could set a new track record and take the Qualifying top spot. Muroya’s first run came close, but a one second penalty late in the run at Gate 13 for crossing the track limit line saw him drop to ninth. Sonka's success remained dependent on the result of Muroya's last run.
The tension seemed to affect Muroya's focus, as he exceeded the entry speed limit, instantly giving him a one second penalty. The Japanese pilot and 2017 World Champion began to feel the pressure, and in an attempt to regain his time he picked up two more seconds worth of penalties, effectively handing over the maximum three Qualifying points to Sonka.
The pilots will enter the track tomorrow at 13:00 local time for the Round of 14. All the action will be live right here!