Penalty cost 2 places in qualifying

Posted on: 9th May 2009

The Race Director and aviation team must have been knackered last night. Plan A is for normal operations (good weather) and Plan B is for when the cloudbase comes down. It was hard work for us in Q1 just to make sure we steered ourselves accurately to the holding positions on Plan A without offending the Air Traffic people but Q2 in worse weather conditions was much easier as we had reverted to Plan B with an easier holding position, further from the commercial airport. Anyway, the guys in the Race Tower did an excellent job yesterday getting 30 flights through the track in those conditions. Let’s hope they have an easier time today. Knowing how hard they worked makes me feel less irritated this morning that it’s so hard to find out exactly why I got a penalty in Q2. I know that in the grand scheme of running a race, one pilot’s penalty is trivial BUT, if it’s foggy all day today and we do not fly, yesterdays result is the race result and that 2 secs knocks me from the podium to 5th so....for me it’s not trivial and I would like to know ... do the stewards say I was less than 90 degs in the Quadro or did I roll late into the gate? From my own cockpit cam it is not clear. The fact is, if you want to save time, you have to flirt with this kind of penalty. If you insert too much caution you bleed small fractions of time all the way round the track. There’s a fine line to tread so it would be good to start racing today knowing exactly why I was penalised yesterday. There were a lot of pylon hits in Qualifying and the results show that this race is still wide open. What’s interesting is that a few years ago, a 2 second gap was not so much to find. Now, 2 secs on the track seems like an eternity. So, like 13 other pilots, I would like to know exactly what Hannes Arch has under his cowling. I see no radical aerodynamics on his Edge (certainly nothing like Paul Bonhomme’s) but just looking at the times and everything, it’s clear that he has a lot of power. Apart from the fact that the three podium positions can only be determined as the last competitor passes the finish gate (especially here where you take it at an incredibly acute angle – it suffered 2 hits yesterday), the good thing about the new format is that no matter where you come in Qualifying, you can still win the race. Fingers crossed for decent weather.