Today is the main event of the Red Bull Air Race Abu Dhabi 2009—the race!
Since the United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country, the official days of rest are Friday and Saturday so today’s race is the equivalent of a Sunday race in other motorsport.
Anyhow, to recap Friday qualifying, Hannes Arch is the championship leader even after qualifying because of the single point given to the best time in both sessions of qualifying. Arch also set the course record beating the previous record holder, Nicolas Ivanoff, by 0.08 of a second—that time set during training earlier this week.
Further down the field, Paul Bonhomme was way behind Hannes Arch and didn’t appear to be a challenge for the most part. The Brit set a time 1:28.85—about two and a half seconds behind Arch.
Matt Hall was the biggest surprise of Friday qualifying—the Australian qualified fifth and will be competing for points today in only his first Red Bull Air Race. The former top gun appeared to be quite stunned by his performance.
The other three rookies didn’t fare as well as the Australian. Matthias Dolderer and Yoshi Muroya qualified 14th and 15th respectively with the latter being disqualified in his second run for erratic flying and the former being disqualified for going nearly one km/h over the entry speed limit.
Pete McLeod from Canada put in two clean runs and qualified 12th overall. His Edge is a little slower than the others but the fact that he didn’t hit pylons or accrue any penalty points makes him a force to be dealt with in the future.
Overall, we have quite the startlist with a rookie in the top 10, and the top pilots from last year all over the place. It should be an interesting race and expect anything!