The Red Bull Air Race has taken the Russian skies in Kazan for the second consecutive season. Kicking off the fifth stop of the 2018 series, Saturday’s rollercoaster-style Qualifying kept fans on their toes as the pilots battled it out on Kazan’s new, fast, and unforgiving track.
“This is where I think our luck changed last year! It’s a completely new track design, but still very technical. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but there’s a magic second (or two) around here. 2m left or right of the optimal line means more than you’d expect!” comments Team 99’s on-site tactician and coach Pablo Branco.
Conditions in this tricky track were ideal as the 14 race pilots fought to reveal their fate for Sunday’s Round of 14 matchups. Germany’s Matthias Dolderer topped the leaderboard with a 52.615 as USA’s Michael Goulian took to the track. After a disappointing P11 result on his first run, Goulian flipped the table by throwing down a smoldering time of 52.820, trailing Dolderer by a mere 0.205sec. Team 99’s P2 results positions them against Chile’s Christian Bolton in Sunday’s Round of 14.
Returning to Russia’s sporting capital stirs up some warm memories for Team Goulian’s Technician, Warren Cilliers, as the team took the podium with a respectable 3rd Place Finish in 2017: “Kazan was where we received our first Podium finish in 8 years, and my first ever podium with the team. I’ll never forget the taste of that champagne. This year in returning to a place with such fond memories, we are even more excited and determined than before.”
Will Goulian take the Kazan podium two years in a row? The American pilot is ambitious: “You wish you could go out and win every race, and you can’t. What you can do is put yourself in a position to win and that’s what I hope to do tomorrow. If I can duplicate three flights tomorrow like I just did in my second Quali run, then I think we’re good,” as a grinning Michael Goulian climbs out of the cockpit.
Watch what happens in Kazan! Race Day in Russia is Sunday, 26 August 2018. Follow along LIVE at redbullairrace.com/live
Results Master Class Qualifying, Kazan 2018: 1. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 52.615, 2. Michael Goulian (USA) 52.820, 3. Juan Velarde (ESP) 52.969, 4. Ben Murphy (GBR) 53.088, 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 53.351, 6. Mika Brageot (FRA) 53.487, 7. Pete McLeod (CAN) 53.747, 8. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 53.862, 9. Matt Hall (AUS) 54.009, 10. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 54.062, 11. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 54.288, 12. Martin Šonka (CZE) 54.356, 13. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 54.834, 14. François Le Vot (FRA) 55.074
Photos courtesy Red Bull Content Pool.