The day ended earlier than anticipated for Team 99 in Kazan, Russia: the second stop of the 2019 Red Bull Air Race series. The American team was knocked out of their heat in the Round of 14, for the first time since 2018’s Wiener Neustadt race.
The US pilot was cleared into the track in Heat 3, against friendly rival Australia’s Matt Hall. Dreams of a race win for Team 99 deflated as the American pilot picked up a 1sec Over-G penalty through Gate 4, progressing Hall to the Round of 8. The Aussie flew a clean and solid lap time of 1:02.383, 2.279sec less than Goulian’s lap time.
The US pilot knew exactly where the error was made. “Coming out of Gate 3, I just had a lot of speed; I could feel it in the airplane. I made what I thought was a normal turn into Gate 4, but I think with the aggressive speed that we had, it was just a little too much. I was only supposed to pull about 9G in Gate 4, not 11. I heard the (over G) beep in my headset, and I knew it was close but didn’t know it was over for us until after my run was done.
“It really stinks. We wanted to win here this weekend, but it is what it is. I went out and flew my game plan. It was a fairly good time for what we could do, but that one second penalty got us in the end.” stated Goulian just moments after pushing the plane back into the hangar.
In three years’ time, the Kazan track has proved itself one of the trickiest and most unpredictable for both the race pilots and their tacticians.
“Kazan is a track where the fastest line is very, very narrow. It only takes a few feet to either side of it with the potential to lose a lot of lap time. The long break between races and lack of opportunity to practice for the teams not based in Europe certainly hasn’t helped the cause either.” commented Team 99’s race analyst Pablo Branco.
Goulian added, “We’ve searched for the right line on this track and this year was no different than any other. We sort of pulled it together in Qualifying yesterday and today was a pretty clean lap, but it probably could have been better. This is just a tricky place.”
Upcoming Red Bull Air Race stops
13-14 July | Lake Balaton, Hungary
7-8 September | Chiba, Japan
Images courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool.