Welcome everybody for raceday at the Red Bull Air Race season opener in Abu Dhabi! I'll be providing the play-by-play again for raceday here in the capital of the United Arab Emirates!
Anyways, sit back, relax and I'll be delivering the news as it happens! All times posted are +4 GMT, the local time.
16:50: Well, that's it for the Red Bull Air Race Abu Dhabi. Hannes Arch takes an impressive 13 points overall today. Paul Bonhomme comes in second and Nicolas Ivanoff takes the final spot on the podium. Nigel Lamb is fourth and no doubt disappointed, but the season is long and with a rookie in the mix, this season will be anything but ordinary!
16:36: AMAZING! Hannes Arch not only manages to beat out Paul Bonhomme, but also posts the fastest lap time seen all weekend! Talk about an Air Racing Hat Trick! He takes pole, the lap record and the win! He beats out Bonhomme with a very impressive 1:24.6 - a full 0.89 of a second faster than the Englishman!
16:33: Paul Bonhomme is the next man to fly. He blows away Nigel and Nicolas with an impressive 1:25.49. A new course record. Hannes Arch has a tall order to fill if he wants to beat out the Englishman.
16:30: Nicolas Ivanoff is the next man up and just pips Lamb with a 1:26.34. He gets two seconds for an incorrect knife edge.
16:27: Lamb sets the standard with a 1:26.63 and no penalties. That's not exactly the fastest time seen so far, but anything can happen right now!
16:25: Welcome back to the Final Four for the Abu Dhabi round of the Red Bull Air Race. It's a close one today with an MXS and three Edge 540's in the mix. First up is Nigel Lamb to fly...
16:15: Well everybody, that's it for the Super 8's. Stay tuned as we go into the final four! The final four pilots in the Abu Dhabi round of the Red Bull Air Race are Nigel Lamb, Nicolas Ivanoff, Paul Bonhomme, and Hannes Arch. Australian Matt Hall has been stopped for now, but the rookie has shown himself against the big guys.
16:12: 2008 champion Hannes Arch has just finished his run and ekes by with a 1:28.9 after a two-second incorrect level flying penalty!
16:09: 2008 runner-up Paul Bonhomme is up next and sets a respectable time of 1:27.33 with zero penalties.
16:06: Nicolas Ivanoff is the next man up. He sets a best time thus far with a 1:25.99 even with a two-second incorrect level flying!
16:03: Nigel Lamb is up and takes the fastest time thus far even with a two-second penalty for incorrect knife flying. He sets an impressive 1:28.21.
16:00: The impressive Australian rookie Matt Hall has just pipped Rakhmanin with a 1:29.57. He gets a two-second penalty for incorrect level flying but it's the best time so far...
15:54: Alejandro Maclean is up and it's all going well but oh no! He touches a gate and sets a 1:32:00. He could've led if that didn't happen. Rakhmanin is still leading.
15:51: Mike Mangold is up and seems to be having some trouble. He takes a 1:31.09 including four seconds for two incorrect level flying!
15:48: Welcome back to the Super 8's here in Abu Dhabi. Everything is moving quite quickly (including the planes!)! First up is Sergey Rakhmanin who sets the standard with a 1:29.91 and a two-second penalty for flying too high.
15:45: Well, that's it for the Super 12! The pilots racing, in order, are Rakhmanin, Mangold, Maclean, Hall, Lamb, Ivanoff, Bonhomme, and Arch! The biggest surprise is Australian Matt Hall! Could he be the next Lewis Hamilton? We'll see very soon!
15:38: 2008 champion Hannes Arch is up and an incorrect knife flying adds two seconds. He pulls a 1:28.65.
15:35: Welcome back after the clean up and it's Paul Bonhomme's turn. An amazing run and a new course record of 1:25.86 with no penalties!
15:29: Nicolas Ivanoff comes into the track and while the beginning looks great and on track to set a track record, he makes a big mistake and hits a pylon when entering the quadro for the first time. He still has a respectable 1:31.55 even with the penalty. The air gators are out in force...
15:26: Nigel Lamb is the next man up in his beautiful Breitling MXS. He makes a clean run with a 1:29.26.
15:23: Australian rookie Matt Hall is racing now. He has a penalty but STILL manages to make a 1:30.25. Incorrect knife flying proves fatal, but it looks like he'll be in the top 8...
15:20: Peter Besenyei is up next. He puts in a clean run and manages a 1:32.6 with no penalties. He's still a little slower...
15:17: A penalty-free performance from Maclean and his MXS. Alejandro Maclean is a quarter of a second slower than current leader Sergey Rakhmanin.
15:14: Another American Kirby Chambliss enters the track with a slow 1:31.97 with no penalties. What's up with the lack of speed from him?
15:11: American Mike Mangold is in the track and just completed his run. He runs a very clean race with no penalties and registers a time of 1:31.54. He's two-and-a-half seconds slower than Rakhmanin.
15:08: Sergey Rakhmanin is up next in his MXS and he sets the fastest time now with a 1:29.02.
15:05: Glen Dell is the next man on board as he actually goes slower than rookie Dolderer! Dell pulls a 1:34.78, 0.19 of a second slower.
15:02: Matthias Dolderer starts since he was second in the Wild Card and pulls a 1:34.59 with no penalties. It's a clean slate now so Dolderer has set the standard.
14:18: Michael Goulian is in the track. He flies a disciplined race but is a little slow for some reason. It seems like his weekend went from bad to worse as he finishes 14th overall and out of the wild card. The winners of the Wild Card are Glen Dell and Matthias Dolderer! The Dolderer camp is celebrating at the TRW. We now have some entertainment until 15:00 when the Top 12 comes up. At 15:40, we'll have the Super 8's and by 16:15, the top four should be determined with a winner found out by 16:50.
14:08: Pete McLeod hits a gate on his first lap! Oh no, the Canadian has lost his touch and deviates from the course with a DQ. The Air Gators are out in force to fix the torn gate. A shame since McLeod was doing an amazing job in qualifying...
14:05: Glen Dell is up next and improves with a 1:33.57. Amazing job from the South African
14:03: Matthias Dolderer betters the Japanese with a clean run and a 1:36.58
14:00: Yoshi Muroya starts things off with a clean run and a 1:37.91.
13:55: With five minutes to go until the Wild Card, Jurg Mueller, the helicopter pilot in the Red Bull Air Race flies the track!
13:29: Beautiful weather here on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi! It's a lovely 33 degrees Celsius and clear. The weather service here predicts a high of 39. We currently have the pre-race entertainment happening with Sergio Pla flying the media plane again.
There are huge crowds on the beach around here and it should make for an interesting race. As well, parachuters were coming in earlier from the Red Bull Air Force. Stay tuned as the race starts at 14:00 with the Wild Card - the bottom five pilots fight for the top two spots and a chance to compete in the Super 12.