Last race thoughts

Posted on: 4th Oct 2009

We have a fascinating race ahead of us today. This is a very easy track to fly . . . if you’re not too bothered about your time! The track is a perfect demonstration of the fine line between a really fast penalty-free time or a disastrous penalty ridden failure. You can see that through the results yesterday. Lots of penalties as each pilot strived to find that extra 0.1 of a second here or there. You’ll notice some crazy ones...rolliing in the start gate, hitting the start gate !!Also, hitting gate 5 / 12 (my hand is up!) and the quadro has been smashed a lot too, especially when there’s been an onshore breeze. If you pull hard in the vertical turn around gate 4-11 with a bit of a left twist to head straight at 5-12, it is already at an acute angle. You can save a fraction if you twist more on the turn around bu t it really is risky. The gap is extremely narrow. Both Paul and I snicked it yesterday. The reason the quadro is so tricky with an ‘onshore’ is because it effectively compresses the turn. You have to make a judgement before you enter as to when you will pull into the 270 turn. If you pause too long (say half a heart beat) you can easily waste 0.5 or even 1.0 sec. If you pull too early, your first view of the 4 pylons will be more ‘in your face’ than you planned. You may have the wrong angle to get through (like Hannes Arch in Q1) or, more likely, you won’t have enough room to complete the turn, raise the nose a sniff (descending in the quadro is extremely dangerous) and reverse the turn to be in right knife-edge before the propeller enters the gate.

From my side, it’s been a very disappointing decline through the season. It’s hard to believe that in Abu Dhabi I was well backed off in the T12 to make the Super 8 and even in the S8, I took it slightly easy. For those who are in fast machines, this can be a good strategy to avoid penalties and then take the risks when the pressure is higher. But, it is risky because if you back off a tiny bit you can unknowingly back off too much. For me it’s not an option. Many aircraft are much faster now than at the beginning of the season so several teams are podium capable today and I’d say that anyone making a 2 sec mistake is unlikely to make the Super 8. The pressure is on for everyone. 

My hopes for the day are:

  • The ability to stay ontime and focused – e.g. when I practice snappy 90 deg rolls they’re always accurate...but in the track it’s too easy to be thinking, say, of the critical turn after the quadro and not the roll you’re actually doing. Sounds weird but it’s true....you’re on autopilot...reflex actions without the required focus. Something I need to work on.
  • A foxy onshore breeze.
  • For Paul Bonhomme to win the World Championship. He’s been second twice. No-one has been on the podium more. No-one has been more consistent.

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