This was a week to behold for the Red Bull Air Race as fog bestowed the very beautiful and historical section of the Douro River thereby resulting in the 15 pilots involved not being able to put a lot of time in track training this previous week.
This could probably be why the results are as they are!
Porto seems to be the place where reversals of fortunes occur. In 2008, we all remember what happened to Paul Bonhomme (GBR) last year at this same location and that result turned the tide to lead Hannes Arch to becoming champion.
In 2009, Bonhomme is riding a wave in making the third time a charm for getting his Red Bull Air Race championship.
Defending champion Hannes Arch (AUT) has had to fare for ninth place - just outside the Wild Card, but he needs to put in a more cautious flight if he wants to win and narrow down or even overtake the Brit in the points standings.
Three rookies took positions in the top five with Matt Hall (AUS), Yoshi Muroya (JPN), and Matthias Dolderer (GER) coming in third, fourth, and fifth respectively. Kirby Chambliss (USA) missed out on a third consecutive qualifying point and starts second.
To complete the top 10 are Alejandro Maclean (ESP) in sixth, Nigel Lamb (GBR) in seventh, Peter Besenyei (HUN) in eighth, Hannes Arch in ninth, and Budapest winner Michael Goulian (USA) in 10th.
Pulling over-G's in this track is quite easy and many of the pilots were cautious about this issue. Lamb was an unfortunate victim as he pulled a record 12.8 G's of force on his and the plane's body. However, that was only Q1 and with a second round, the Englishman was able to put in a decent but "mediocre," according to him, time which was enough to put him in eighth position and a spot in the Top 12.
Most notably missing from the action this weekend is Glen Dell (RSA). His Edge 540 raceplane failed its technical compliance inspection and Technical Director Adrian Judd suspended the team from the weekend's race.
Further down the field, two of the most experienced pilots will have to compete in the Wild Card: Mike Mangold (USA) in 12th and Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) in 11th after the former took a minor penalty in the second run coupled with a slow engine while the latter hit a pylon and took on too many penalties in both his runs.
They will join Sergey Rakhmanin (RUS) who is sitting in 13th and rookie Pete McLeod (CAN) who has the last place spot. Rakhmanin was just plain slow while McLeod just took on penalty after penalty (A whopping 12 seconds in his first run alone!).
The final tally and times for tomorrow's race are looking as such:
|Rank||Name||Nation||Int. 1||Int. 2||Int. 3||Rnd.||Time||Diff.||Pen|
|2||Chambliss Kirby||USA||13.01||32.59||50.67||Q2||1:10.26||+ 0.23||0|
|3||Hall Matt||AUS||12.91||32.79||50.75||Q2||1:10.78||+ 0.75||0|
|4||Muroya Yoshihide||JPN||13.00||32.70||50.84||Q1||1:10.97||+ 0.94||0|
|5||Dolderer Matthias||GER||13.46||33.25||51.41||Q1||1:11.09||+ 1.06||0|
|6||Maclean Alejandro||ESP||12.76||32.37||51.15||Q2||1:11.23||+ 1.20||0|
|7||Lamb Nigel||GBR||13.14||32.95||51.57||Q2||1:11.53||+ 1.50||0|
|8||Besenyei Peter||HUN||13.04||32.85||51.63||Q2||1:11.61||+ 1.58||0|
|9||Arch Hannes||AUT||13.01||33.04||51.64||Q1||1:12.12||+ 2.09||0|
|10||Goulian Michael||USA||12.96||32.29||50.67||Q2||1:12.43||+ 2.40||2|
|11||Ivanoff Nicolas||FRA||12.85||35.13||53.07||Q1||1:13.07||+ 3.04||2|
|12||Mangold Mike||USA||13.75||34.36||52.97||Q1||1:13.45||+ 3.42||0|
|13||Rakhmanin Sergey||RUS||13.17||33.97||53.52||Q2||1:14.51||+ 4.48||0|