The first two races of this season’s Red Bull Air Race World Championship saw Mike Goulian facing one adversity after another, from engine problems to a pylon strike in the wind. But coming into this weekend’s competition in Malaysia, the proud son of Massachusetts is all smiles. He’s prepared and ready to hit his stride, and besides – third time’s the charm.
Press Release: News about Plymouth, Mass. Resident / Pilot Mike Goulian
Event: Malaysia / Red Bull Air Race World Championship / Motorsports
PUTRAJAYA (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)– Even for someone as positive as Mike Goulian, the opening races of the world’s fastest motorsport series were a disappointment this year. In Abu Dhabi, engine trouble grounded him; and in Croatia, a windy day saw a record number of pilots nick a pylon, Goulian among them. So far, he’s out of the overall the points race. Yet when he talks about how happy he will be to fly on May 17 and 18 over Lake Putrajaya, it’s not an act. With a confidence born of growing up in an aviation family and earning U.S. National aerobatic titles, Goulian knows he’s got the goods to turn things around.
That’s not to say he doesn’t recognize the challenge. At every stop of the eight-event series, he’s facing off against 11 of the world’s best pilots – contenders he knows well. Plus, in Putrajaya they’re all dealing with an exceptional challenge: the tropical temperatures.
“You melt in the plane,” Goulian acknowledged. “But I think the better shape you’re in, the better you do, and while I feel it, the heat doesn’t really bother me.” Just to be safe, he’s eating lots of calories and upping his salt intake to counter dehydration. (The team even bought potato chips, the kind of treat pilots otherwise might pass up to stay light and healthy.)
Airplanes are affected by heat, too. “If you think of where we were in Rovinj compared to here, it’s like having two different planes,” Goulian stated. “In Rovinj the plane was strong and fast – you could really pull on it. Here, it’s all about being smooth and consistent, because when you pull on the plane, it’s almost like skidding in a car. So you just have to fly your line as tight as you can without being too aggressive.”
As the author of a series of books on piloting, Goulian knows how to lay down that kind of performance. “Sure, I believe in ‘three’s the charm,’” he says with a smile. “I am happy to be here and the first training went well. “I think we’ve got it figured out, and now it’s just consistency more than anything.”
Watch Red Bull Air Race World Championship races on FOX SPORTS. Check local listings for dates and times.