The 2018 season of the Red Bull Air Race took off over the skies of Abu Dhabi, UAE this past weekend and saw American pilot Michael Goulian take his second career win in nine years of air racing. Tucsonan Kirby Chambliss finished third following the disqualification of Czech pilot Martin Sonka over a technical issue with his aircraft.
“It’s been a long time coming to get that second win, but it feels great,” said Goulian, who hails from Plymouth, Mass. “I was very fast all week and very consistent. I was excited for qualifying, excited for the race, but I knew I couldn’t get too excited. So we worked on just putting one foot in front of the other and make small improvements.”
“We want to be consistent now and we want to win races, but our aim is make the Final 4, get the points and be in the challenge for the World Championship,” he told Red Bull Air Race news.
Tucsonan Kirby Chambliss had initially finished in fourth place. But, during a technical inspection of Martin Sonka’s plane following the race, it was discovered that the magneto on Sonka’s aircraft was set incorrectly.
“The reason he has been disqualified is due to improper ignition timing of the magnetos,” explained Red Bull Air Race Technical Director Jim Reed. “We have a hard limit of 25-degrees of rotation before top dead-centre. Rather than being at 25 degrees BTDC, Team Sonka’s magnetos were found to be timed at 28-degrees before top-dead-centre which is an advantage in horsepower,” he added.
“From what we can determine it wasn’t an intentional attempt to gain an advantage. If you run these magnetos for a number of hours their timing will drift as the magneto’s internal components wear. As this happens the magnetos will drift more and more in the direction of advanced timing,” said Reed. “So it seems that the team hadn’t verified their timing, so when we inspected their raceplane in Parc Fermé we found the timing to be out of tolerance and thus the disqualification was declared.”
Sonka’s disqualification moved him from third to fourth place and he also lost two points.
In the early go of the season the top standings are:
- Michael Goulian, USA with 15pts
- Yoshihide Muroya, Japan with 12pts
- Kirby Chambliss, USA with 9pts
- Martin Sonka, Czech with 7pts
- Matt Hall, Aus with 6pts
The next stop on the race circuit is Cannes, France April 21-22. The race is available on a delayed telecast on NBCSN. Check local listings for the time and channel in your area. Results always available at the Red Bull Air Race website.
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Copyright 2018 Southern Arizona News-Examiner