Pete McLeod Racing 

McLeod Aims For Rebound In Spielberg
Friday, 04 September 2015 03:49

In the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, teamwork is essential. Yet as the series returns to Austria’s famed Red Bull Ring this weekend, Canadian pilot Pete McLeod is putting the load squarely on his own shoulders. With only three races left in the season, it’s make or break time.

McLeod comes to Austria ranked sixth in the World Championship standings, only three points behind defending World Champion Nigel Lamb of Great Britain in fifth, and four points back from the Czech Republic’s Martin Sonka in fourth. If the Canadian wants to end the season with a ranking equal to or better than his fifth-place overall from 2014 – and he does – there’s no better time to make a move.

At only 31 years of age and now in his fourth season in the world’s fastest motorsport series, McLeod is already one of the most recognizable figures in Canadian aviation. Since claiming his first Red Bull Air Race win at Las Vegas last year, the Team Garmin pilot has been hungry for more; and getting close with third place at the 2015 opener in Abu Dhabi and fourth in Budapest only whetted his appetite. But an uncharacteristic 13th-place finish in Ascot, UK this August – including a pylon hit in a head-to-head against Australia’s Matt Hall ­– may turn out to be McLeod's biggest motivator yet.

In recent races, Team Garmin have questioned the performance of their motor. Sensing that his raceplane isn’t among the fastest in the field, and with no opportunity to make significant changes to the aircraft since Ascot, McLeod believes that the key in Spielberg will be stepping up his game to fly at his very best: aggressively, but error free. He’s got to find a way to push the limits, but not exceed them, on a tricky track at speeds of up to 370 kmh and forces up to 10 G.

“I've been training more at home and will simply be looking to fly better here. I love flying over land, and Spielberg is a good track,” McLeod said from his hangar at the Red Bull Ring. Noting that the overall terrain and setting around the motorsport circuit (which includes a start runway hemmed by grandstands, among other features) can make engine setup and start speed “a challenge,” he added, “I’ll need to have all of this right in order to do well.”

If McLeod does do well, and continues through the rest of the season, he’s still got a shot at the World Championship podium should the right factors come into play. The action kicks off in Spielberg with Qualifying on Saturday, September 5, followed by Race Day on Sunday.
McLeod Knocked Out Of Competition Early In Ascot
Sunday, 16 August 2015 17:19

ASCOT, United Kingdom – Canada's Pete McLeod had an unlucky draw at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship stop on Sunday and got knocked out in the opening round by red-hot Matt Hall in front of a crowd of 40,000 spectators at the world famous Ascot Racecourse. McLeod then had to watch from the Race Airport hangar as the Australian made it all the way to the Final Four on the track where thoroughbred horses usually race, where Hall ended up second to Britain's Paul Bonhomme. It was the second straight disappointing year in England for McLeod, who was 11th here last year. McLeod is looking for his second career victory this season after winning his first race in the world's fastest motorsport series in Las Vegas last year.

"I needed to push hard to have any chance of beating Hall but it didn't work out," said McLeod, who had finished 13th in Qualifying on Saturday and had to race against second-seeded Hall in the Round of 14. It was a tough battle and McLeod might have advanced as the "lucky loser" from one of the seven heats to the Round of 8 but Bonhomme, who won the race, won that honor of "fastest loser" after being beaten by Austria's Hannes Arch. "It was a hard weekend overall. It's time to forget this one and move onto the next race in Spielberg, Austria."

Despite failing to win any championship points in Ascot, McLeod is still sixth overall with 14 points -- just four points behind Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic in fourth place. McLeod was fourth at the last stop in Budapest. His best result this season was third at the season opener in Abu Dhabi.

The victory was Bonhomme’s third this season and second straight win at Ascot as well as the 18th of his career. Bonhomme picked up 12 points to widen his lead at the top of the Red Bull Air Race Championship to eight points (46) ahead of Hall (38 points) in second going into the final three races.

"It was a hard day at the office but today was great fun – I enjoyed that ," said Bonhomme after hitting speeds of near 370 km/h on the track that featured a static start in front of the majestic grandstands and a challenging course made up of 12 Air Gates standing 25 metres high on the infield of the track. "All I can say is this was due to teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. I’m only the driver. I just point the plane in the right direction."

It was the second time the Red Bull Air Race was staged in Ascot, just west of London, that has quickly become one of the most attractive air race locations in the world and a favourite of the pilots who relish taking off and landing on the grassy strip in front of the big crowd.

Austria's Hannes Arch, who struggled in the training session and was last in Qualifying on Saturday, finished a disappointing eighth after winning the last two races in Budapest and Rovinj, Croatia. Arch had a great run in the Round of 12, just beating Bonhomme. But Bonhomme was the “fastest loser” and advanced to the Round of 8. But Arch was unable to get his engine started before the Round of 8 and was forced to retire. “It’s frustrating if you can’t race but that’s life,” said Arch, who slipped to third overall with 30 points.

In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world's top pilots hit speeds of 370 km/h while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate as precisely as possible through a low-level slalom track marked by 25-metre high air-filled pylons.

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship moves to its next stop in Spielberg, Austria on September 5-6.
Tight Battle Ahead For McLeod In Ascot
Sunday, 16 August 2015 12:23

ASCOT, United Kingdom - Two mouth-watering match-ups will kick off the excitement at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Sunday at Ascot with championship leader Paul Bonhomme of Britain squaring off against Austria's Hannes Arch, currently ranked second overall, in the opening Round of 14 while Australia's Matt Hall, in third place, will have his work cut out for him against another top pilot -- Canada's Pete McLeod, who is in fifth place overall.

Bonhomme won Qualifying on Saturday, his third pole position this season, and Hall took second while both Arch (14th) and McLeod (13th) struggled in Qualifying. That four of the top five pilots will be racing against each other in the opening round will create all kinds of opportunities for pilots in the middle of the pack to possibly reach the Round of 8 or Final 4 for the first time this season.

The normally unflappable Bonhomme was clearly unhappy about having to face Arch in the first round but Hall and McLeod took their tough first round draw in stride. Along with the seven heat winners, there will also be one "lucky loser" with the fastest time in the Round of 14 who advances to the Round of 8. So the chances are good that one of the losers from those two showdown heats will advance to the Round of 8.

"I'm focused on my performance and flying the best as I possibly can," Hall said on Sunday, sounding confident after posting the fastest training time on Saturday and only narrowly losing to Bonhomme in Qualifying. "Pete's very good but he didn't have a great day yesterday. I expect he'll be flying at his best today so I need to be flying my best today as well. I have to fly the best line I can and be confident that my time will be fastest enough to advance to the Round of 8. These days everyone is a hard opponent. You can't afford to make any mistakes."

McLeod, who was fourth in the last race in Budapest, is confident that he can beat Hall in the race even though the Australian has been flying extremely well this year.

"I've got my work cut out for me," said McLeod. "I need to fly fast, clean and hope that Matt doesn't put down one of his fastest time. One of the losers from the Round of 14 is going to go through so the big thing is just go out there and fly a fast time and see what happens. It's exciting for the first round. There is no easy path to the final any more. Sure, there are less difficult paths to the final. Today I don't think I'm going to have one of those less-difficult paths against Matt."

Bonhomme was beaten by Germany's Matthias Dolderer in the opening round last year but was the "lucky loser" and made it all the way to the final, which he won. While three of the four pilots in these tough Round of 14 match-ups can make it to the Round of 8, only two at most will make it to the final, a fact that Bonhomme and Arch were both unhappy about.

"We all know it's going to be difficult out there," said Arch, who won the last two races in Rovinj, Croatia and Budapest. "Unfortunately, one of us won't make it to the final."
McLeod 13th In Ascot Qualifying After Winning Pole Last Year
Saturday, 15 August 2015 21:01

ASCOT, United Kingdom – Canada's Pete McLeod was pleased with his performance in Qualifying in front of 18,000 spectators at the Red Bull Air Race in Ascot on Saturday even though he finished back in 13th place in the 14-pilot field.

Oddly enough, last year McLeod finished first in Qualifying but ended up getting knocked out in the first round to finish a disappointing 11th in a 12-pilot field. So the Canadian is hopeful he can turn the tables around once again on Sunday but this time in the right direction.

"It was a tough day at the office today," McLeod said after getting hit with a two-second penalty that left him in the bottom half of the table with a time of 1:09.996, or 4.608 seconds behind pole winner Paul Bonhomme of Britain. "But the good news is that my net times were improving rapidly every run. I'll have to bring my best to the track tomorrow for the first round as I'm up against Matt Hall, who has been very fast lately."

Hall took second in Qualifying in the world's fastest motorsport series with a time of 1:06.284. Bonhomme, the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship leader, stopped the clock in a time of 1:06.023 to claim his third Qualifying victory this season after hitting speeds of up to 370 km/h from a static start on the obstacle-filled track set up on the infield of the racecourse that dates back to the early 1700s.

The only blemish for Bonhomme, the most successful pilot in Red Bull Air Race history with 17 victories in 62 races, will be that he will now have to face off against Arch in a tantalizing opening round head-to-head duel in Sunday's race, the fifth of the eight-race season. Arch, who is in second overall after winning the last two races, had an off-day, pulling out of the race track midway through his first Qualifying run and then being knocked out by engine trouble just before the start of his second Qualifying run.

Sunday's race, which will be broadcast on starting at 13:00UTC, will be the first held over land after the first four races took place off the shores of Abu Dhabi, Chiba (Japan), Rovinj and over the Danube River in Budapest. In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world's top pilots endure forces of up to 10G as they navigate as precisely as possible through a low-level slalom track marked by 25-metre high air-filled pylons.

RESULTS QUALIFYING ASCOT: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 1:06.023, 2. Matt Hall (AUS) 1:06.284, 3. Martin Sonka (CZE) 1:07.172, 4. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 1:07.443, 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 1:07.864, 6. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 1:08.075, 7. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 1:08.136, 8. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 1:08.220, 9. Michael Goulian (USA) 1:08.438, 10. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 1:08.439, 11. François Le Vot (FRA) 1:09.280, 12. Juan Velarde (ESP) 1:09.996, 13. Pete McLeod (CAN) 1:10.631, 14. Hannes Arch (AUT) DNF

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MAR 11-12
Abu Dhabi - U.A.E.
APR 23-24
Spielberg - Austria
JUNE 04-05
Chiba - Japan
JULY 16-17
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AUG 13-14
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SEPT 3-4
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OCT 1-2
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RBAR 2016 World Championship
1 Matthias Dolderer 80.25
2 Matt Hall 55.75
3 Hannes Arch
4 Nigel Lamb 37.75
5 Nicolas Ivanoff 35.00
6 Yoshi Muroya
7 Martin Sonka
8 Pete McLeod
9 Kirby Chambliss 30.25
10 Michael Goulian  19.75
11 Juan Velarde
12 Francois Le Vot
13 Peter Podlunšek  4.00
14 Petr Kopfstein  4.00
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