The Analyst’s First Look At Balaton

The Red Bull Air Race’s insider offers his first opinion on the 2019 Hungarian track

Lake Balaton is the only new location for the 2019 season, and it brings with it a new racetrack for the pilots of the Red Bull Air Race. This is always a challenge as the teams have no data to work with from previous years, and they don’t know how the wind will behave. Everyone is starting with a clean slate.

Our race analyst has checked the track in a simulator and believes he knows where the race can be won or lost. The Lake Balaton track is 4.7km long with 14 gates, six actual gates in the water, and for this race, the start speed for the Master Class pilots will be 190kt.

 “Lake Balaton is 14 gates – that is one big lap,” said our analyst. “The reduction for the entry speed might be because of the high-G load during the flat turns in the west of the track (Gates 5 and 13).”

Our analyst suggests that the pilots will actually recognise the track. “It’s similar to the track in Chiba last year – a chicane in the centre, hard turns and VTMs at the edges. Nevertheless, the racing line in Hungary will be different. It’s very technical and challenging.”
 

There are several places on the track that will form the key zones where pilots can win or lose this race. “The first one being the turn at Gate 5/13,” explained our analyst. “There are two ways this could be flown. Option one is flying a set up turn for Gate 5. This is the much faster option  but there's also a higher risk of getting a penalty, most likely an incorrect level or a pylon hit. The second option is the straight line towards the gate – it’s slower, but there’s less risk of collecting a penalty.”

The second key zone occurs at Gate 9. “This turn will have to be flown vertically as it is close to the Track Limit Line,” said our analyst. “However, the pilots will try to get as close as possible to his marked line. Crossing the line will result in a one second penalty.”

The pilots will have to remain focused throughout their run, as there is a chance of deviation from the course. “If the pilot looks straight ahead as they come out of the second chicane, they will see Gate 10. Unfortunately this is the wrong gate. In order to pass the correct gate, Gate 8, the pilots will have to fly a tight left turn. Mental training is required to handle this section,” concluded our expert.

So it seems as if Lake Balaton's racetrack is going to be both tough and challenging. Fans should prepare for an enthralling weekend of racing – follow all the action right here on www.redbullairrace.com
 

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