Courtesy of Red Bull Newsroom
Sunshine revealed the beauty of Budapest as Free Practice kicked off on Friday for this weekend’s Red Bull Air Race in the Hungarian capital, but the 14 teams of the World Championship were focused only on the wind-whipped racetrack over the Danube. Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic delivered the fastest time of the day, with Matthias Dolderer of Germany, Yoshihide Muroya of Japan, and Australia’s Matt Hall less than a second behind him.
With its status as the spiritual home of the Red Bull Air Race, and its iconic setting in the heart of a major European capital, Budapest is a prestige race that every pilot wants to win. Šonka’s 1:05.796 was just 0.198 seconds ahead of Dolderer, the defending World Champion, and 0.651 to the better of Muroya, who is tied in the points with the Czech pilot at the top of the overall leaderboard.
The 1:06.666 clocked by Hall, meanwhile, was a good indication just how comfortable he’s becoming with his new Edge 540 V3 raceplane. Given that the midpoint of the season in Budapest marked the beginning of a charge for the Australian in 2016, Hall’s opponents will be keeping a close eye on him.,
Pylon hits as well as incorrect level penalties were frequent, and the exertion of holding their lightweight raceplanes steady in the gusts was evident on the faces of the pilots.
“You have to react much more than in calm wind. You must be super-focused in every moment because the movement of the airplane in this kind of turbulence can cause almost 45 degrees of banking in a split second, and you have to stop it,” Šonka described. “You have to hold the airplane much stronger, and it’s much more tiring. It’s simply hard work – plus there’s the concentration, the pulling and the Gs. So today in these conditions Free Practice felt really almost like a race.”
With strong winds and gusts forcing the Race Committee to cancel a planned second Free Practice session for the Master Class on Friday afternoon, the pilots and are now preparing for additional flying on Saturday, including Qualifying that will determine the pole position for Sunday’s race.
“The strong wind has resulted in the Race Committee taking the decision to cancel the remaining flying sessions today. Safety is our utmost priority and with the current wind and gusts, it exceeds our ability to conduct flying in a safe manner,” said Race Director Jim DiMatteo.
Reserve your seat! Tickets for the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship – including the record 11th stop in Budapest on 1-2 July– are on sale now. For more information on tickets and all the latest, visit www.redbullairrace.com
Results Master Class Free Practice 1, Budapest: 1. Martin Šonka (CZE) 1:05.796, 2. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 1:05.994, 3. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 1:06.447, 4. Matt Hall (AUS) 1:06.666, 5. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 1:07.100, 6. Mikaël Brageot (FRA) 1:07.680, 7. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 1:07.938, 8. Juan Velarde (ESP) 1:08.057, 9. Michael Goulian (USA) 1:09.845, 10. Pete McLeod (CAN) 1:10.583, 11. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 1:11.102, 12. François Le Vot (FRA) 1:14.185, 13. Peter Podlunšek (SLO) SCO, 14. Cristian Bolton (CHI) SCO