18 April 2010

12 to 8 to 4....we have a winner

Well, that was a busy time indeed!

Without too much delay, we were straight into the top 12 round with Matt Hall starting out in 4th place. This round begins with the slower times from the previous round going through first. With Sonta & Maclean already out, Muroya and Rakhmanin were always going to find it a struggle. Penalties and flying errors began to show through as these pilots and the other back markers tried their best to get the most out their machines and themselves.

As the quicker pilots came in for their runs, we saw the times - and the mistakes - fall sharply away. The French pilot, Nicholas Ivanov showed some surprising consistency with his run and no doubt had the top runner worried for a short time, and when the Americans, Chamblis & Goulian saddled up for their runs, we all expected big things.

The biggest applause came for Aussie pilot Matt Hall and his super smooth and consistent style was both a pleasure and a thrill to watch. His good friend Nigel Lamb was excellent as well, and his new aircraft is sporting some huge blended winglets. Hannes Arch was awesome with his speed & skill, as always, but the abssolute star if this round was Paul Bonhomme. Despite his smoke system failing, costing him a one second penalty, he still managed to blitz the field with a time of 1:26. At the end of the top 12, Hall was in 4th place. Leaving the Perth round were Rakhmanin, Muroya, Besenyei, and surprisingly, Mike Goulian.

Straight into the Super 8 round and it was Mcleoad of Canada leading things off with a fast and smooth run, follwed by Dolderer of Germany with a nasty couple of pylon hits to put him straight out of contention. Then it was Matt Halls turn and he didn't disappoint, giving the rest of the pilots a lot to think about with a blistering 1:27.65 . From this point on, he was the guy the rest had to get ahead of to make the final four.

This was achieved after a mail biting session that had the Perth crowd on the edge of their seats as Lamb, then Bonhomme, and finally Hannes Arch all bettered Halls' time.

After a short break, the final four round got under way. Hall went out first and shot through at 1:25.51, Lamb was next, but lost a lot ofenergy through his run and came in slower. This left the two champions, Arch & Bonhomme. Bonhomme has been unstoppable for over a year now, and everyone expected nothing less this time around, but were all surprised to see him come in behind Hall with 1:26.82 This left it wide open for Arch, and with an incredible run of 1:26.03, he claimed victory for the Perth round in 2010.

For the hugely supportive Australian crowd, it didn't matter that he came second, they were jumping out of their seats with excitement to see Matt Hall up on the podium. The applause was loud and long as he made his way up, and lasted for a long time after the ceremony was over. For this former RAAF fighter pilot, the decision to pursue this career path must now be sitting very comfortably.

The next round ofthe Red Bull Air Race takes place in Rio De Janeiro on May 8th & 9th.

This has been the first time out for me as a journalist, and despite not doing all that I'd set out to do this time around, the experience I've gained here has taught me a lot and I will approach the next big aviation event far more the wiser for having been here.

It has been exciting; it's been fun; it been exhausting, and I'd be happy to do it all again next weekend!

Red Bull Air Race Perth 2010, Day 2

Day 2 of the serious stuff at the Red Bull Air Race in Perth, Western Australia, and the conditions couldn't be more perfect for high energy flying. Forecast of 29 degrees, light sea breezes and chrystal clear blue skies has attracted huge crowds to the south bank of the Swan River.

After managing to negotiate the plethora of traffic diversions and road closures, I find myself back in the media centre again, and it's straight down to business. In the absence being able to get as many interviews as I'd planned, I've decided the best thing I can do for the PCDU audience is to keep them updated with live times and happenings via Twitter. I've also warmed up the camera and it's getting a pretty heavy workout.

At the time of writing, the wild card round has been completed. The bottom four times from yesterday get the chance to compete for two spots in the top twelve. This time around it was Martin Sonka, Yoshihide Muroya, Alejandro Maclean and Peter Besenyei.

Sonka was first into the track, and after a disastrous run, taking out two pylons, he was first out of the game today. Muroya was next and screamed through the course with no penalties. Maclean went through next but managed an error and a pylon hit, so that was the end of things for him today. This left Besenyei to come though and do little more than fly clean; which he did in his usual smooth manner.

The result therefore were Besenyei & Muroya into the top twelve.

So, after a brief pause, and a nice flyby from a QANTAS 737-800, we are waiting for the top twelve round to commence.

Let's hope Matt Hall can claw his way up from 7th position today. I told his media manager last night that I was expecting to record all the audio fromMatt's presso conference tonight following his win.

17 April 2010

End of day 1 in Perth.

Well, at the end of a very interesting day, I've managed to get a couple of quick interviews so,all things considered, I'm happy with that. I'll be back at the Red Bull Air Race tomorrow wiser for today's experiences, and I'm determined to get to all the media events next time around!

I managed a quick chat with 2008 World Champion, Hannes Arch, who gave me a run down on his efforts today. He's says he's pretty happy with the plane, and thinks he'll be well in contention tomorrow. Like many this year, he is flying a brand new aircraft and has had to iron out a few bugs in the process. It seems that the heat of Middle East in round 1 was a real factor for many teams, but Hannes says the milder temperatures here in Perth have helped.

I also chatted with Lenny Rulason, Matt Halls Chief Engineer.Lenny is a native of Arizona, and has served with a number of other Red Bull teams over the years. He's also an accomplished aerobatics pilot in his own right and talked about the great spirit of friendship that exists among all the teams pilots. It seems they all know each other well from many years of doing the air show and air race circuits.

Our local hero, Matt Hall managed a best time of 1:29.35 today, and it leaves him about five secondoff the current leader, the unstoppable Paul Bonhomme. As always, Matt is coll and quietly confident about his chances tomorrow, and one gets the sense that he was doing just the right amount required today to make the super eights round. With his ultra sleek, brand new MXS-R all tuned up tonight, and ready to go in the morning, the crowds in Perth will be hoping to see Matt go all out in his quest for victory tomorrow.

Now, I have to work out where I parked the car and head back to my hotel. It's been a great day here in WA, and I'll be heading out early tomorrow to catch all the action.

A learning process....

Well, it would seem that I have much to learn when it comes to this media game. I seem to have been in the wrong places at the wrong time all day!

One problem you have here at Red Bull in Perth is that there is so much going on all the time on both sides of the river. So, where to go? The media centre is located on the south side of the river, and offers even better viewing than the grandstand. If you want great photos of the race, you have to be there. On the other hand, the media lounge at the race airport is located on the north side. Great for pit lane access, and pictures of the aircraft arriving & departing,but you can't really see the race from there.

I figured that I'd need to be at the airport for interviews, so I trek off in that direction, only to find myself there in the midst of the qualifying rounds. It's a hive of activity there, and as such, no-one is able to talk. Matt Halls' media manager advices me to return later in the day, so I head back to the south side of the river.

As I'm writing this post however, I discover that I have missed the media pit lane walk, which I would have otherwise been on had I stayed where I was before!

Oh well, next time I'll be better prepared for all of this. I'm putting this whole trip down to being an education.

Red Bull Air Race Perth 2010 - Day 1

Well, here I am, on my first media trip and trying my best to be a "real" journalist!

After finally finding a place to park, I have found my way into the Media Centre, and wow, I feel like I've entered another world. Everything is provided here - food, drink, wifi access, press kits & full live stats. I've set myself up here with the computer, and I'm about to trek off on the media shuttle to the race airport, which is on the opposite side of the Swan River.

Without Grant here to grab all the interviews, it's going to be both a challenge and a learning process for me. My first stop will Matt Hall Racing and hopefully an interview or three!

I admit to feeling more than a little out of my depth right now, but on the other hand, I am really pleased that all the hard work we've put into PCDU is beginning to pay off.

More updates later.... My media shuttle ride awaits.....

Ausflier's local weather