Posted on: 7th Sep 2015 by: Nigel Lamb
On 18th October my Red Bull Air Race World Champion title will pass to either Matt Hall or Paul Bonhomme. Too much tinkering with elevators and an associated lack of consistency killed my chances a race or two ago. Now all I can do is aim to claw my way onto the podium for the final season standings. It's still mathematically possible but, in reality, less than likely as I’ll have to win the next two races. Nevertheless, it's a worthwhile goal to try and salvage something from a so far lacklustre season.
What an elementary error from me in Spielberg!! The start is tricky there . . keep clear of a noise sensitive area by lining up with the main straight as you run in towards a tree line on the crest of the circuit; pass just right of a TV crane which appears at the last moment; dip over the trees into the bowl of the track and start the right turn just before you bottom out into the sweeping turn up the hill; eyes constantly flicking from the EFIS for speed and the start gate for the best angle and line-up; the speed must be as close to 200kts as you dare then full throttle as you enter the start gate and the game is on. In Friday's practice, the conditions were calm yet I simply did not get it right . . way too conservative and the price you pay is on the time sheets. 190 kts instead of 200 is 5m/s lost over the first say, 30 seconds =150m. Using 90m/s average speed on this track, you’ve lost over 1.5 seconds before you’ve even started. In the calm conditions, there was a 5-8 kt speed loss in the climbing right turn to the start gate and what I failed to factor in on raceday was the westerly wind. The wind gradient on descent over the trees into the track kept the speed constant so my plan to have 200 - 202 kts passing the crane and a drop to 197 or so in the turn was flawed. It’s a bad feeling for me and tough on the team who worked so hard but, invariably, there’s someone else who has a sadder tale to tell. Local favourite Hannes Arch hit the start gate in front of his home crowd. I’ve never seen that before and hope like hell it’ll never happen to me!
It was a well deserved first win for Matt Hall who has been incredibly consistent this year . . he scrambled through the first round despite a pylon hit (luckily for him, his opponent did the same plus two other penalties) and beat Paul Bnhomme in the final by 0.05secs.