Michael Goulian and Team 99 delivered a promising start to their competitive season in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, taking place this past weekend in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
A 6th place finish, while not the podium standing they were after, validated much of the team’s inter-season work. Goulian and his team came within 0.0008 seconds of reaching the Final Four round of the race.
“I’m pretty disappointed that we didn’t make it in the final four, because that was really my goal waking up out of bed this morning, I said “we’re just gonna make this thing go and get there” stated Goulian, fresh off the race course. “My team did such a fantastic job this week. We were in a great mood we were up at the top of the charts in practice and in qualifying all week.”
Knowing that the team operated at its peak leading up to the race, Goulian was able to determine where he lost the speed they had enjoyed in practice and in qualifying flights all week. The direction and velocity of the wind was a concern, leading to a less aggressive race line to avoid the potential of a disqualification from crossing the crowd-safety line. “The wind, I think was a little bit of a factor and I was a little worried about it because Peter Podlunsek had a crowd line infringement call and I thought that might have been due to the wind, so I took it a little more relaxed between the chicane and gate number 3.” In the vertical turn maneuver, where the pilot reverses direction by performing half of a loop, Goulian applied just enough back pressure to his control stick to induce a slight aerodynamic stall of his airplane, resulting in a subtle loss of airspeed and energy on the course. That gave Canadian Pete McLeod just enough of an opportunity to edge out one of the smallest margins of victory in race history.
Goulian and Team 99 return to the competitive arena April 15 and 16th, when the Red Bull Air Race World Championship returns to San Diego, CA for the first time since 2009.