Murphy Doesn’t Feel The Pressure
Britain’s Ben Murphy made the rest of the Master Class pack sit up and take note when he became the highest point scorer of any Challenger promoted to the Master Class in their debut season.
Murphy finished 7th overall with 29 points, and also obtained a spot in the Final 4 twice throughout 2018 – quite the achievement for a pilot in their first season.
Fast forward to the 2019 season opener in February, and a race weekend that saw Murphy consistently sitting in the middle of the field. But a difficult and unfocused run in the Round of 14 on Race Day saw him penalised for an Over-G and a pylon hit. This brought the British pilot’s racing to an abrupt end, and he walked away from race one with a 13th place result.
Now in his second season, is Murphy putting himself under too much pressure to be super competitive, forcing mistakes in the racetrack? He thinks not.
“I don’t feel added pressure,” Murphy said. “We did so well in the first season, I feel it’s taken some of the pressure off. Everybody fears their first season, because you’re not sure how you’re going to do, how the raceplane will perform, and how the team will gel. And because we did so well, the pressure of worrying about those things is less. Any pressure there is, is self-induced and we have to fight that.”
Murphy is quick to recognise what went wrong in Abu Dhabi. Just before entering the track he lost several readings in the raceplane, causing a momentary but significant lapse of focus, a loss of rhythm and a margin of error that couldn’t be recovered. However, on reflection, Murphy feels that he will be able to learn from this mistake. “We lost a few of the readings in the raceplane just before we entered the track, but at the end of the day it’s just an aeroplane with some flight controls and I need to fly it like that,” he explained. “The main lesson for us is that we mustn’t get distracted, and it’s something we’re going to be working on in the simulator. We’ll practice failures like that. There’s no excuse – it was a mistake in the track and I need to get my head in the right place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Murphy is intent on personal development before the next race, and has formulated plans to improve the raceplane. The Blades Team are competitive but are ultimately looking for their first Master Class win. “We’ve got a few mods in the pipeline, but we’re keeping them up our sleeves at the moment. There are a few routine mods, plus bits we’ve wanted to do since we got the raceplane, but just haven’t had the time,” said Murphy. “We want to keep modifying the aeroplane. You really have to just to keep pace with everybody else. We’re trying to stay innovative and think of new ideas. But we’ll have to see if they work at the next race.”
Although feeling competitive, Murphy hasn’t set himself any solid goals for this season. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that he’s not intent on mixing it up with those at the top of the table. “I don’t set point goals because there is a danger that you could chase results from race-to-race. Our main goal is to get consistency, both in the raceplane and my flying. We rediscovered in Abu Dhabi that a fraction of a second’s delay in one input could be the difference in sitting nicely at the top of the pack, or right at the bottom. So it’s reducing those mistakes.”
“As Nicolas [Ivanoff] said, ‘don’t make a mistake, and you’ll do well,’” concluded Murphy.