All of the teams arrived in Abu Dhabi with renewed hopes for a successful 2010 season. All of the teams spent the winter months trying to find ways to make their plane and their team more competitive. For some teams, that meant aerodynamic modifications to make the airplane “slicker”.

It looks as though Nicolas Ivanoff did the most work on that front. Nico spent a great deal of time and money cleaning up the front of the plane with a new cowling, canopy, turtledeck, and belly combination which at least from the outside, looks really fast. They also made a clever exhaust change as they’re now running the exhaust out the side of the cowling instead of the bottom. The short stacks make the plane sound very different. He’ll be one to watch.

Nigel Lamb has shown up in Abu Dhabi with a very radical wing tip design. His Breitling MX-S now looks more like an Airbus 340 than a RBAR plane. Everyone is calling him “shark” as his plane really looks like it has grown some shark fins off of each wing tip.

While some teams worked on “aero” improvements, other teams worked on increasing engine performance. In other words, good old fashion horsepower. There are lot’s of rumors going around about who has what, however, the only real way to tell is on the track. We’re betting that Hannes (who also has a new plane), Matthias, and Paul, all have strong engines.

Kirby and I have last year’s engines, which we think are still pretty powerful when compared to the others along the grid. Let’s hope so!!! However, Kirby and I hope to have new race engines for Perth or Rio (we’re keeping our fingers crossed).

If a team didn’t focus on “Aero” or horsepower, they were most likely working very hard to reduce the weight of the plane down to the minimum allowed within the rules. For Team #99, that is one of the last pieces to the puzzle that we were not able to solve last season. However, our team spent a lot of time, brainpower, and money, trying to get our plane to the minimum weight. We weighed our plane on the official scales today and let’s just say that we’re pleased with our efforts. High five to my guys!!!

Even though our plane is now “in the ballpark” on weight, we’re sure that almost everyone else is too. So to win, you need a slick aero package, lots of horsepower, minimum weight, good piloting, and of course, a healthy amount of luck throughout the season.

I am hoping we have just enough of everything this season. After Abu Dhabi, we’ll know whether our hard work over the winter has paid off or will we need to keep pressing. Oh wait, this is racing. If you’re standing still, you’re going backwards. One thing is certain; we’re not going to let the grass grow under our feet!!!!!