14 of the world’s best air racing pilots battled it out over Lake Balaton’s beaches on Sunday, July 14th in the third and penultimate race of the Red Bull Air Race season. Despite battling ongoing engine issues, US pilot Michael Goulian leaves Hungary in a hopeful 5th place in the World Championship standings.
The American challenged Czech pilot Peter Kopstein in Heat 5 of the Round of 14. Their spilt times seemed to be similar until the third split where Goulian had gained almost half a second on his rival, pushing him through to the next round comfortably.
Matched up against Pete McLeod in the Round of 8, Goulian flew cleanly and penalty-free, but ultimately fell behind the Canadian by 1.145sec. Team 99 placed 7th in the race, adding 12 points to overall standings and bumping them up one position to 5th in the championship standings with only one race remaining.
Goulian reflects on his day in the track: “It was a mixed week for us, we struggled so hard with a lot of engine problems and we really didn’t get the airplane running perfectly until this morning and so we struggled a lot with that, but it really wasn’t a distraction. I was actually really relaxed on the track and it was one of those days where you just think smooth and steady will win the race.
We flew the Round of 14 really cleanly and did it again in the Round of 8 but I didn’t anticipate Pete to fly as aggressively as he did. In the end, I just flew too conservatively.”
Now the pilots prepare for the season finale in Chiba, Japan on 7-8 September. 28 points are on the table: 3 points for the winner of Qualifying plus 25 points for the race winner. Šonka currently leads the pack with 65 points to Hall’s 61 and 55 for Muroya. Next up and tied with 37 points, Murphy and 2018 3rd place finisher Goulian are both in a position to seize a place in the top three. It was Hall who triumphed there in 2018, with Šonka in third and Muroya in a surprising last place.
“I think everyone wants to win the very last race of the Red Bull Air Race series and that’s for sure. We know we have a fast airplane, we have the right tactics and the right team, and I think it’s just about me being a little bit more aggressive. I think this year I’ve not been as confident in my VTM pulls as I was last year and that’s made a difference. We have some work to do to find that confidence again before Chiba.” adds Goulian.
Red Bull Air Race 2019 Calendar
8-9 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
15-16 June: Kazan, Russia
13-14 July: Lake Balaton, Hungary
7-8 September: Chiba, Japan