The first standing-start of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship proved to be a unique challenge, but it’s nothing USA’s Michael Goulian couldn’t handle.
For the sixth stop of the series, the pilots are to take off and fly straight into the start gate: no extra time in the air to prepare the aircraft as they would at other races, creating an extra layer of complexity.
“The standing start just adds another dimension to it and this is off a turf runway so there’s some bouncing going along and to get the airplane in the air quickly and accelerating is important. Obviously, all the teams have thought about this and practiced it before getting in the track so we have just have to see if our tactics are correct,” Goulian comments
Inclement weather caused Friday’s Free Practice 2 sessions to be cancelled completely, leaving all pilots with less time in the track. That combined with the Compensation Runs meant even less time zipping through pylons for the US pilot.
Race Pilots who did not compete in the Round of 8 and/or Final 4 of the previous Air Race are given additional Free Practice sessions to ensure no pilot has an advantage of being through any track more times than his rivals. These practice sessions are commonly referred to as “Compensation Runs”.
“This race, some of the Master Class pilots have not had a lot of time on the track because of the rain yesterday. That made us miss a practice session completely and because of my (2nd) place in the last race, I only get a very short training session today. We will go onto this racetrack with considerably less training time than a lot of other pilots.”
Despite the lack of training sessions, Goulian’s two runs in Qualifying prove the theme for 2018 true: Consistency is key for this team. Qualifying in 6th place pitches him against France’s Nicolas Ivanoff in the head-to-head Round of 14 tomorrow. Goulian remains confident in his ability: “You can’t be first or second every time, but you can try your best, and that’s what we will do tomorrow.”
Follow all the Race Day action LIVE on Sunday, September 16, 2018: live.redbullairrace.com
Red Bull Air Race 2018 Calendar
2-3 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
20-22 April: Cannes, France
26-27 May: Chiba, Japan
23-24 June: Budapest, Hungary
25-26 August: Kazan, Russia
15-16 September: Wiener Neustadt, Austria
6-7 October: Indianapolis, USA
17-18 November: Ft. Worth, USA
Photos courtesy Red Bull Content Pool