By Harry Alexander / SoAzNewsX
Tucson Red Bull Air Race pilot Kirby Chambliss still has an outside chance at becoming the 2017 Red Bull Air Race champion despite finishing sixth at the weekend’s Lausitz, Germany competition.
Chambliss sailed thru the Round of 14. But, when it came to the Round of 8, Chambliss wasn’t able to capture the time he wanted. He ended up finishing the race in the sixth position and captured five points to his overall standings. Czech Republic pilot Martin Sonka holds an 11 point advantage over Chambliss. The Tucson pilot remains in fourth place in the overall standings.
“I did all I could do out there today,” he said following the completion of the race. “I thought my time was going to be really fast and I didn’t really change my line. My entry speed was 199, it doesn’t get any better than that and you come off the track and think to yourself that it’s good enough, then you see the time and it’s frustrating.”
Chambliss was knocked out of the Final 4 with a time of 00:51.398. The winning time was flown by Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya with 00:50.451.
“It’s kind of hard to see where you can shave half a second off one minute,” said Chambliss. “I flew really well, but we had some tough matches and we had to fly hard just to get sixth place.”
Muroya, who won at Chiba, Japan earlier the year, was satisfied with his performance.
“It’s a win, so of course it’s very, very satisfying,: said Muroya. “We had a hard time in Kazan and Porto, then we prepared very well, and thanks to all of my team members. We knew we would be able to fight for the championship this year. The plan for Indianapolis is easy: just go fast and go get the win.”
For Chambliss to gain another World Championship, he’ll need to fly flawlessly and hope his competitors make a few mistakes on the track like running into a race gate, too fast entry speed into the course, or exceed the G Limit on vertical turn maneuvers. Pilots who commit penalties have seconds added on to their final track time.
Air race commentators said during the television broadcast that any one of the pilots in the Top 4 positions could win the championship. Chambliss has garnered two World Titles and eight race victories since he entered the competition in 2003. That record puts him joint third on the all-time wins list.
Current standings heading into the final race of the 2017 season at Indianapolis:
The final Red Bull Air Race of the 2017 season will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oct. 14-15. The Round of 14, Round of 8 and the Final 4 are televised on NBCSN. Check your local listings. The race can also be followed at the Red Bull Air Race website.
Harry Alexander is the Managing Editor of the Southern Arizona News-Examiner and an avid air race enthusiast.
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