Ahead of the 11th Red Bull Air Race season opener in Abu Dhabi, defending World Champion Yoshihide Muroya and runner-up Martin Sonka took in some of the stunning landmarks the UAE’s capital has to offer. The pair flew over the new Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, the mangroves of Ramhan Island and the state-of-the-art Midfield Terminal under construction at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Muroya and Sonka will renew their rivalry, along with an international field of the world’s best pilots, when Qualifying takes off above the famed Corniche on Feb. 2 and Race action on Feb. 3.
This year the Abu Dhabi track consists of 15 gates, flown over two laps. The track this year is different from 2017, but the biggest difference is Gate 6. This year it’s a double gate meaning the pilots will have to fly level through it. Last year it was a single gate.
Gate 7 will require the most of the pilots’ concentration, as there are several options on how to fly it as well as a chance of an over-G.
“There is obviously a chance for an over-G at the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre [Gate 3 and Gate 10 on the second lap], but there is higher risk at Gate 7,“ explained a Red Bull Air Race analyst. “The trajectory from Gate 4 to Gate 7 is quite straight and the raceplane will accelerate,” he added.
The two differing options for Gate 7 will more than likely be tried out by all the pilots between now and Race Day.
“Option one is that the pilot takes Gate 6 in a straight line and then has a hard turn to line up for Gate 7,“ said the analyst. “Option two is that the pilot makes a set up turn before Gate 6 – which will be close to the safety line – heads straight to Gate 7 and then makes the hard turn after as they head to Gate 8.”
As Gate 8 is also the Start/Finish Gate the pilots might take a different line at the end of each lap.
“At the end of first lap the pilots might take a smoother line as they’ll want to keep the energy in the plane, where as the second lap they will just want to get to the finish line as fast as possible,“ concluded the analyst.
Tucsonan Kirby Chambliss will be back in the mix of it this season. He narrowly missed winning his third World Title and finished fourth in the 2017 overall standings.
Pilots are awarded points for each race with the winner gaining the most points. At the end of the season, the leader is crowned as the World Champion.
The Red Bull Air Race is televised on a delayed basis on the NBCSN network. Check your local listings for times. Results will also be available at the Red Bull Air Race website.
After Abu-Dhabi, the pilots will fly into Cannes, France for a race on April 21-22.
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