Michael Goulian flying under the chain bridge in Budapest, Hungary on July 2, 2017. // Photo courtesy: Red Bull Content Pool

The Red Bull Air Race Budapest held the potential for Mike Goulian to upset the entire field of competition. The Team 99 Edge 540 hurtled down the Danube River at 200kts, passing under the Chain Bridge before rocketing through the starting gate. The fight was on and Goulian was taking no prisoners. With an expanding 2 second lead, the team was poised to set a track record. And then race control called in…”Knock it off. Knock it off. Knock it off.”

Looking at the G-meter on the instrument panel of his thoroughbred racer, Goulian knew why he had been called off the race course. He had exceeded the maximum G allowed by the race committee. In this case, he had experienced 12.04G for a fraction of second; enough to send him home by the smallest of margins.

Red Bull Air Race allows pilots to exceed 10G for 0.6 of a second. Remain above 10G for any longer and the race pilot is called off the race course. If a pilot exceeds 11.99G at any point, for any length of time even if it is for 0.0001 seconds, and the race pilot is called off the race course. So, although Goulian was over 10G for less than 0.06 seconds, his maximum G of 12.04 resulted in his exclusion from the competition.

At the speeds the pilots hit on the race course, an “over-G” is a constant threat. “Part of a winning strategy has to include getting through the vertical turn as fast as you can. If you pull too soft, and have a low-G vertical turn it will take forever to get around, you’ll lose time and be in the back of the pack. Too much G, and you’re sent home. The trick is to get as close to the limit without exceeding it. The faster you go, the easier it is to go over the limit.”

Final rank in Budapest: 12th
World Championship Standing as of Budapest: 8th

Goulian and Team 99 will again try to find the winning balance of aggression and caution at the upcoming Red Bull Air Race in Kazan, Russia July 22 – 23. Stay tuned for a full race preview as the team prepares to embark on their longest journey of the 2017 race season.