Red Bull Air Race Budapest: First Training Session

  • Jul 3, 2015 7:25am GMT

Australian Matt Hall was fastest after the first runs in Budapest. It was hotter and more humid than Abu Dhabi today as the Red Bull Racers trained for the fourth race of the 2015 World Championship. The heat robbed the planes of power on what is supposed to be a fast and 'easy' track. The circuit over the Danube is narrow, has no chicane and therefore will be a race against the clock.

Video: Fly the track with Red Bull Air Race commentator / pilot Mike Mangold below.

The heat isn't the only challenge. There will be a high chance of over G at Gate Five, the first vertical turning manoeuvre and the second verticle turn, Gate 9, is flown upwards rather than flat because the gate is in the middle of the river and they can't fly flat due to the closeness of the crowd line. And, yet another factor that could affect the race is wind. Depending on strength and direction it could change the pilots' tactics completely for qualifying and on race day.

The North Americans

Canadian Pete McLeod was third quickest today just behind both Hall and British pilot Paul Bonhomme in the first training session. Only 5 racers got through the first session without penalities. He said, "It's a fun track, but they're all fun. As it's a simple track there's not a lot of room to make up time. I'm struggling with time. I'm losing a 0.1 of a second at each gate, but we've got some things to work on. We want to get a bit more out of the engine." Before training he said, “I’m feeling good coming to Budapest but I really don’t have the slightest idea how this race will go,” adding, “It seems like the power gap between my plane and the others is closing a bit and that’s great. But the downside is we doubt that gap will disappear totally. That means I’ve been forced to fly very aggressive lines to have anything close to a competitive time. When you take those risks, penalties happen and they are punishing.”

Photos below video

Kirby Chambliss finished the same session 8th after getting a 2 second penalty at Gate 2. He said, "We still need to find another second, which we're trying to do. You've got to fly clean and you've got to fly on the edge. The temptation is to turn to early, but that's when you pick up penalties." The team arrived early in the week. Unlike the previous races this year, the aircraft did not need to be assembled. Instead, the morning was spent at a local airport where the aircraft had been left for storage after the race in Croatia. It was then ferried to the race airport by technician Jason Resop. After inspections and few small maintenance items, Kirby was in the air for test flights with everything ran smooth.

Photos below video

Michael Goulian was given a DNF after having trouble with Gate 8 and deviating from the course, he said,"The track is great. You can really feel the speed of the track. As the track is straight forward the pilots will fly to the edge of the aircraft's capability – it will be a really close race and a small mistake will cost you."