Let the racing begin!

Posted on: 15th Mar 2010

It’s been a long winter. Frustration and stress have played their part but now that everything is on the way to Abu Dhabi there is a growing sense of excitement to get out on the track and see if our endeavours will pay off.

Like most other teams, our radar at the end of 2009 was focused on power. Once the machine is down at the minimum weight, power becomes the key. Our basic weight was under the minimum last year so we were carrying lead weight all season. Those who’ve seen some pictures from our recent press launch will note the winglets. These and some other compulsory regulations requiring extra weight mean that we’ll be struggling to stay light this year but I’m hoping we’ll be on or not far off the minimum.

Our modifications include:

  • New engine from Barrett
    – hopefully some additional HP.
  • Cropped ailerons
    – this has improved the handling due to reduced adverse yaw. It should also reduce the aileron drag. The roll rate is reduced but the theory is that this is outweighed by the advantages.
  • Winglets
    – the theory and science of a reduction of induced drag is clear. Time on the track will tell. ‘Induced’ drag is the drag we create by manoeuvring and as you can imagine, it’s huge during the big turns. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift–induced_drag
  • Re-shaped engine cowling
    – we’re hoping for less form drag and also some reduction in induced drag. This has been a difficult process of trial and error because a re-design can easily create massive problems with engine cooling; both the cylinder temperatures and the oil.

After several weeks of testing and ‘going back to the drawing board’, re-engineering, and re-testing, things began to fall into place on the last testing day. The MXS handles well and we do have some easy to measure improvements on the 2009 setup. There are many small finessing jobs to do before the first race but I think we stand a good chance of being competitive in Abu Dhabi. Of course, you just don’t know what everyone else has achieved but you can do some guesswork!

Here goes….it’s guesswork though so I may be wildly wrong in some cases.

Bonhomme

I reckon he’ll have done a few tweaks on aerodynamics, more power but, most important, he’ll be on the minimum weight which I don’t think was the case last year. I have no doubt that the defending champion will be very competitive this year.

Arch.

The latest new Edge from Zivko. I reckon he’ll have no more power than he had last year (because he probably already had the most!) It’ll be as light as the rules allow; probably better handling and for sure it’ll have some aerodynamic improvements. I’d say his percentage performance gain for 2010 will be less than Bonhomme’s.

Ivanoff.

The man who’s taken the biggest gamble this winter. If you check out his website and know that he was unable to do much testing before shipping to Abu Dhabi, you wouldn’t bet much on things going smoothly for the first race or two. I’ll be amazed if all the engine cooling works in time so he’s likely to be very distracted all through the Abu Dhabi race. In any case, I’m not so sure but I hope he doesn’t get too much bang for the buck. Of course, we don’t know exactly what they’ve done and we probably never will!

Goulian.

He won in Budapest last year and has a great engine. I imagine he will have worked hard to get the weight down to the minimum so I think he’ll have a very competitive machine.

Chambliss

Kirby’s Edge was very competitive last year. I’m not sure what he will have done in the winter but he’ll be very competitive. He always is.

Besenyei

All this talk about the new Corvus and what we can expect! Having travelled a difficult road starting with the MX2 and then getting the MXS competitive, my guess is that we’ll see Peter in his 2009 MXS for most of the season and maybe the Corvus will appear in Germany or, more likely, in Budapest. The fact is this…. There is no more competitive arena in aviation than the Red Bull Air Race and it does not matter how much money you throw at a new design, it takes longer than you expect to go from the drawing board, build, test, re-design, test again and again and finally get onto the track. I might be wrong about the Corvus but I doubt it. If I am right and Team Besenyei have not been focused on their MXS, I’d say he’ll struggle in the first half of the season.

Maclean

His MXS will be similar to mine so my comment has to be…. dependent upon what the Edge / Corvus teams achieve, very podium capable!

Rakhmanin

I’m not sure what he’s done about power and other modifications but his MXS could also be podium capable.

Hall

He had a very competitive MXS last year. The new one may be a bit lighter but that won’t be much of an advantage over 2009 because, with the new regs, he’ll be carrying lead to get himself up to the regulation 82kgs pilot weight this year. I believe he has also cropped his ailerons so he’ll have better handling. All in all, I imagine he’ll be a bit more competitive.

Dolderer

I hear he’s destined to get a new Edge like Arch’s. He ended 2009 very competitive so even if he’s done nothing to his ‘old’ machine, he’ll be strong this year. If he’s done nothing as he waits for his new mount, he’ll be in the same boat as the one I predict for Team Besenyei.

Muroya

He had a very fast Edge last year and came on strong from time to time. His Edge is being modified in New Zealand, which is a place of great innovation and clever people. I reckon his Edge will be podium capable from the start of the season.

McLeod

He flew well last year but was shackled by his machine. I have heard that he’s destined to get one of the new Edge’s but, meanwhile, they’ve totally re-built his 2009 machine. For sure this is a very focused and dedicated team. How they get on this year will be determined by what performance gain they have squeezed from the 2009 Edge and when they get the new one. Another thought… as a rookie last year in an underperforming machine, he had no pressure at all. If he does have a competitive aircraft this year, how will he react under pressure?

Sonka

The Czechs are really great. I hope we get to race in Prague one year; that would be very special. Martin’s team was based in the same hangar as ours for the last few weeks. He exudes calm confidence. This will be his first year and he’s in Mangold’s 2009 Edge with no visible modifications. My guess is he’ll find his feet and aim to be a contender in 2011.

Kindelmann

He’ll be looking forward to Rio! Can you imagine coping with the passion of that humungous home crowd? I’ve never seen Adilson fly so have no clue what he might be able to achieve but since he’s starting with Matt Hall’s 2009 MXS he should be better placed than his fellow rookie.

2010 promises to be a fascinating year of air racing as long as the new Edge and Corvus are not some kind of ‘wondermachine’, which can run away with the championship. I hope they won’t be so we can have several podium capable teams; some with several seasons experience, some new; some ‘veterans’ and some ‘youths in fast machines’.

Let the racing begin!


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