Chiba Expectations from the sidelines

Posted on: 19th May 2017 by: Nigel Lamb

San Diego was such a great race to watch; I wish I’d been there! With excellent weather and a good looking crowd, the racing was thrilling with some of the major upsets offering us a flavour of the season to come. Variation on the podium and the Championship wide open to several pilots. The margins were very tight and the race was won by Yoshi Muroya taking a very bold line and not making a mistake as others did. The sign of a true champion.


Here’s my take on what we can expect from each of the pilots in Chiba:


Martin Sonka

He’ll be disappointed with San Diego but very confident generally. He’s flying clean but raceday just didn’t quite go right for him. He was a bit lucky to get through to R8 as Fastest Loser but then met the eventual winner and didn’t lose that round by much. He’ll be hating the format and will be hungry for another win in Chiba.


Matthias Dolderer

Seems a little unsettled so far but the season is young and he’ll take a lot of comfort from winning Qualifying in SD and the familiarity of getting to the Final. He was more interested in a win than securing points so he took the bold line and it didn’t quite work out. He’s the current champion and he’ll be bold again in Chiba.


Yoshi Muroya

Abu Dhabi was a race to forget and his bad result was through a fine-margin over-G. SD set the record straight; he won in Chiba last year despite the unbelievable media pressure so we can expect more of the same from Yoshi this time. He just needs his team to get him though race week with the least amount of distraction.


Juan Velarde

I’m not sure what he’ll be thinking about San Diego where he was consistent but not quite fast enough. Perhaps trails and doubts with his winglets shook his confidence a bit. After his fine result in Abu Dhabi and being 4th in the rankings, his tail will still be up and I expect a good season from Juan if he can avoid inconsistency which was his weakness last year.


Peter Podlunsek

Wow! How surprising was that! Beating Matt Hall in R14 would have been a real boost. It’s true that Peter benefited from the mistakes of others…Mike Goulian’s pylon hit in R8 and then in the Final, he earned his second place by taking the conservative line whilst others did not and paid the price. A great result from a newcomer who kept his cool and made no mistakes. If he can repeat his R14 speed in Chiba, he’s got a promising season ahead.


Pete McLeod

Pete will be disappointed to have fallen foul of the format. Generally quick and consistent and his times were good enough to reach the Final. Sadly, the dice fell badly for him to be paired in R14 with the eventual race winner who had made a mistake in Qualifying. I did not like the format when I was competing and as a spectator, I remain convinced that there’s a way to keep the drama without penalising a competitor by the ‘random falling of the dice’.


Nicolas Ivanoff

Cursed by the dreaded ‘over roll’ in the gate, Nicolas is an example of the need for consistency. He has so many career wins but makes too many mistakes. If he can reduce his error count, he can be the World Champion. Let’s see which Nicolas will turn up in Chiba!


Mike Goulian

My good friend stumbles again after such promise in training and Qualifying. Even with a penalty in R14 he got through. In hindsight, Mike’ll be thinking he went too aggressive too early, his raw pace against Peter Podlunsek in R8 should have walked him into the Final. It was such a pity for Mike in a home race but I expect a strong showing in Chiba. Mike is quick this year and has all that’s necessary in terms of skill, team and machine . . Perhaps he just needs just a little more self-belief?


Kirby Chambliss

Very consistent times from Kirby but his pace was not that quick in San Diego. I’d say he benefited from a little good fortune with the format and mistakes from other competitors. Having beaten six others whose pace was generally quicker all week, he ought to be content with 4th but he’s such a fierce competitor and it was a home race and he did not make the podium so, for sure, he’ll have been disappointed and will be hungry in Chiba.


Petr Kopfstein

Petr’s 5 WC points disguise his potential. I expect a very good season from him as long as his self-belief is in line with the promise he is showing. If there’s one thing about the format that really is awful, it’s the head-to-head in R8. It follows R14 in which two competitors are in a head-to-head and yet their times dictate further pairings in R8 . . Petr was denied the Final by the roll of the dice.


Cristian Bolton

I enjoy watching Cristian, a talented new pilot with a great attitude. He’s just finding his feet and once his experience builds and he gains confidence, I think we can have high expectations. Chiba may be a bit early for a good result but it would not entirely surprise me.


Francois Le Vot

Francois got faster as the race progressed and this is a good sign for someone who can’t wait to get out of his old ‘bus’ and race with his new machine. I sense a more relaxed Zool this year and can’t wait for Budapest when he will have a faster aircraft. In Chiba, his relaxed, ‘nothing to prove’ attitude might bring a surprise despite the lacklustre pace of his Edge.


Matt Hall

Matt’s settling down in a new machine which handles very differently to the MXS he’s used to and yet he had some excellent times and consistency in San Diego. I’m really excited to see what Matt might achieve in Chiba. The podium beckons.


Mikael Brageot

It was gutting to watch Mika and my old team flounder in San Diego. But . . here is a team with all the essentials to succeed and here is a clear example of how it takes time to build the experience to get to the podium. Mika’s season has started badly but this is a guy who will not be fazed . . San Diego’s ‘technical fault’ which meant a DNS in Qualifying was simple bad luck which, combined with some other factors, meant he had hardly any practice before going head to head with Matthias Dolderer in R14. No chance! I can't wait for Chiba and without doubt, Mika and his team will feel the same.