|Fort Worth, USA – Qualifying only intensified the excitement for Sunday’s race, which is the first Red Bull Air Race Season Finale ever held at Texas Motor Speedway. Dolderer flew third in the 14-pilot field and stopped the clock at 50.614s. With flights taking off in reverse order of the standings, the trio still in title contention – number three Matt Hall (AUS), number two Sonka and leader Michael Goulian (USA) – had to wait their turn, and were thrown an additional challenge when Le Vot delivered 51.010s.
Hall served up 51.284 for fifth on the day, while Sonka nearly stole the pole with a run just 0.262s behind Dolderer. All eyes were on Goulian, whose team had rushed to complete work on their wingtip after a pylon hit on Friday. When the American could manage only 51.708s for ninth, Dolderer was all smiles.
“Even if it’s only Qualifying, I love to be on top of the podium, and I love to win. That’s why we’re here – for competition,” said Dolderer, the World Championship winner from 2016. “We just need to bring the results from Qualifying into the race, and I’m pretty optimistic this will work soon.” With a laugh, he added, “Maybe we should get points for Qualifying as well!”
Now, the season that started on 2 February all comes down to the lightning-fast runs in the racetrack on Sunday, where a predicted change in wind direction could throw the pilots’ best plans into disarray. In the knockout head-to-heads of the opening Round of 14, overall leader Goulian will go up against Chile’s Cristian Bolton, Sonka will face Nicolas Ivanoff of France, and Hall will square off with Canada’s Pete McLeod. Meanwhile Dolderer, aiming for his first race win of the season, is matched with Juan Velarde of Spain.
Looking at the lineups, retired three-time World Champion Paul Bonhomme, now a commentator for the Red Bull Air Race broadcasts, shared, “I think we are going to see some cracks appear in the top three from the pressure, although I hope not. We don’t have long to find out!”
Sonka earned the DHL Fastest Lap Award for recording the quickest lap among the Qualifying runs, which created a tie with Dolderer in the standings for the 2018 DHL Fastest Lap Trophy, because each had earned three of the race honors across the season. According to the rules, the tie was broken based on their other Qualifying laps in 2018, and Dolderer claimed the season prize, making him the only two-time winner of the trophy.
Catch the biggest race of the season! Seats are still available for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship final and awards ceremony at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, 18 November 2018. For ticket information and all the news, visit www.redbullairrace.com.
Results Master Class Qualifying, Fort Worth 2018: 1. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 50.614, 2. Martin Sonka (CZE) 50.876, 3. François Le Vot (FRA) 51.010, 4. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 51.027, 5. Matt Hall (AUS) 51.284, 6. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 51.367, 7. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 51.571, 8. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 51.596, 9. Michael Goulian (USA) 51.708, 10. Pete McLeod (CAN) 51.878, 11. Mika Brageot (FRA) 52.090, 12. Ben Murphy (GBR) 52.530, 13. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 53.183, 14. Juan Velarde (ESP) 53.185
RED BULL AIR RACE 2018 CALENDAR
2-3 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
20-22 April: Cannes, France
26-27 May: Chiba, Japan
23-24 June: Budapest, Hungary
25-26 August: Kazan, Russia
15-16 September: Wiener Neustadt, Austria
6-7 October: Indianapolis, USA
17-18 November: Fort Worth, USA