Wiener Neustadt, Austria – The sixth stop of the eight-race season, Wiener Neustadt has been highly anticipated as a mix of the classic and the new: both a return to the Austrian roots of the Red Bull Air Race and a debut for the sport at a historic natural airfield. The setting serves up the season’s first race over land, and the first with a standing start, which sees the raceplanes enter the Start Gate only seconds after they start rolling down the runway.
Pilots get two runs through the track in Qualifying, and the best run counts. Muroya produced the fastest time of all the pilots’ first runs, then, taking off again from the standing start, he topped his own time by one-hundredth of a second, for the day’s best result of 58.483. Dolderer’s 58.800 made him the only other pilot to break the 59-second mark in the session, while Sonka logged 59.071.
Muroya, the 2017 World Champion who has yet to win a race this season, commented, “I felt confident coming into Wiener Neustadt, and our consistency gives us a good feeling for race day.” With the knowledge that just two stops remain on the calendar after this Austrian race, he continued, “Of course we are aiming to win here and the rest of the races. We are always hunting the top guys, and we are still fifth position overall, so it’s a bit far but not impossible. Race Day is different from Quali and I have to be focused – just concentrate on each session and go faster.”
Because Muroya was the fastest qualifier, in Sunday’s opening Round of 14 the Japanese pilot will face the slowest, Cristian Bolton of Chile. The pilot currently at the top of the World Championship standings, Michael Goulian, will clash with Nicolas Ivanoff of France. Meanwhile, Dolderer will square off with the contender who set the Wiener Neustadt track record in Free Practice, Petr Kopfstein of the Czech Republic. Sonka, who is tied in the points with Australia’s Matt Hall for second overall, goes up against Spain’s Juan Velarde, and Hall flies against France’s François Le Vot. Another Frenchman, Mika Brageot, takes on Pete McLeod of Canada, and Kirby Chambliss of the USA, who has been part of the sport since its maiden season in 2003, is looking at a challenge from this year’s charging rookie, Ben Murphy of Great Britain.
Dolderer also claimed the DHL Fastest Lap Award for producing the fastest single lap among all the two-lap Qualifying runs. At November’s season finale in Fort Worth, USA, the pilot with the most awards will be presented with the 2018 DHL Fastest Lap trophy, and Dolderer’s achievement gives him a commanding lead in the contest, with three awards to one each for Sonka, Goulian and Chambliss.
Watch what happens in Wiener Neustadt! The last European race of the season takes off on Sunday, 16 September 2018. For ticket information and all the latest updates, visit www.redbullairrace.com
Results Master Class Qualifying, Wiener Neustadt 2018: 1. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 58.483, 2. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 58.800, 3. Martin Sonka (CZE) 59.071, 4. Pete McLeod (CAN) 59.196, 5. Matt Hall (AUS) 59.212, 6. Michael Goulian (USA) 59.227, 7. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 59.526, 8. Ben Murphy (GBR) 59.854, 9. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 1:00.002, 10. François Le Vot (FRA) 1:00.200, 11. Mika Brageot (FRA) 1:00.532, 12. Juan Velarde (ESP) 1:01.446, 13. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 1:01.920, 14. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 1:03.130