Abu Dhabi (UAE) – Canada’s Pete McLeod has landed in Abu Dhabi, UAE and final testing for the first round of the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship has begun. McLeod and team are busy prepping the #84 Edge 540 racer for what could shape up to be one of the most competitive seasons ever. “It’s always great to be here and feel the combination of excitement and nervousness that is special to the first race. All the teams are holding their cards close right now and will play them on race day. Race day in Abu Dhabi always sets the tone for the season to come. You need to be ready” said McLeod of his feelings ahead of the first race of 2015.
McLeod has shown great promise through his 3 short years on the circuit. 2014 was in many ways a “Breakthrough year” for the youngest pilot on this circuit, where he fought for his first career victory, 3 podium finishes, 4 Qualifying wins, 2 Super Eight wins, 5 top Five finishes, and 5th place overall in the series with a personal best 38 points over eight races.
McLeod will be facing two new competitors in 2015, rookies from France and Spain, as well as a new race format. By expanding the high-speed, low-altitude competition to a field of 14 pilots from 11 countries, the race format has been revamped to heighten the competition and will feature seven head-to-head race battles in the opening Round of 14. In the Round of 8, seven winners of the Round of 14 plus the fastest loser of the first seven heats will square off against each other in another round of head-to-head, winner-take-all, knock-out heats. The four heat winners will move on to race in the traditional Final Four round to claim a podium place.
When asked about this new format, McLeod explained “This new format will certainly up the stakes in the first round by leaving pilots one less opportunity to sneak into the next round if you make an error. The introduction of head-to-head heats in the Super 8 round will be a game of strategy and qualifying positioning. It certainly opens the door for luck to play a big factor, but in the end the winning strategy will be the same: fly the fastest and you’ll win!”
Abu Dhabi has been a staple on the Red Bull Air Race circuit, and long known as a favourite venue for the #84 pilot. Last year in Abu Dhabi McLeod laid down the gauntlet with a qualifying win, and Super 8 win, before securing his first career podium finish with a 3rd place finish overall. Focus will be key, and the young Canadian will be looking to regain his podium form after a soft ending to his otherwise successful 2014 season, where engine troubles held McLeod to a disappointing 8th place finish in Spielberg, Austria.
Canada’s Pete McLeod will be looking to take on Britain's Nigel Lamb, who will be vying to defend his 2014 title with runner-up Hannes Arch of Austria and Paul Bonhomme of Britain, who was third last year, returning with high hopes for 2015. The 2015 World Championship features two new stops in Japan and Russia along with a return to Budapest, Hungary. The world's fastest motorsport series will also be back at five popular locations in 2015 with stops in Abu Dhabi (UAE), Ascot (GBR), Spielberg (AUT), Fort Worth and Las Vegas (USA).