Sunday, 17 May 2015 13:08
CHIBA, Japan – Canada’s Pete McLeod flew a lightening fast time at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship’s second leg in Chiba, Japan on Sunday but got hit with two penalties that ruined his day as he and his Garmin Racing Team ended up a disappointing 12th after a surprise first-round knock out by American Michael Goulian. But on the bright side: McLeod thinks he might have solved his engine set-up problems and was pleased at his blazing time.
Racing at speeds of 370 km/h in front of a sold-out crowd of 60,000 spectators on the high-speed, low-altitude track, McLeod finally was able to get his Edge 540 V3 flying the way it did last year and the way he knows it can to be a top contender in the world’s fastest motorsport series.
McLeod, who finished third in the season opener in Abu Dhabi despite an underperforming engine, was hoping to find a way to get back on the podium again in Chiba, Japan – the first time the race was staged in Eastern Asia. McLeod’s time of 50.785 seconds was the second fastest among 14 pilots, only just a fraction of a second behind local hero Yoshihide Muroya of Japan who posted a 50.779 seconds.
But McLeod was penalized five seconds for a total time of 55.785 seconds and lost his heat to Goulian by 2.809 seconds. The American navigated the 25-meter high track without any penalties, although more than two seconds slower, and stopped the clock in 52.976. McLeod was first hit with a three second penalty for hitting a pylon and then got assessed a further two seconds for incorrect level flying through another gate.
“It was a tough day results-wise for me but I think I made a breakthrough with the plane set-up and the flying lines,” said McLeod, who won last year’s race in Las Vegas, sounding relieved that his Garming Racing Team might have finally overcome the bewildering engine problems. “Aside from the penalties, I posted one of the fastest net times of the round. That gives me a positive outlook heading into the next race in Croatia in two weeks.”
Britain's Paul Bonhomme claimed his second victory of the season with a win in Japan on Sunday.
Sunday’s race just off the shores of the Makuhari Beach was the first ever in Japan and the 60th Red Bull Air Race since the sport was launched in 2003. It was warmly embraced by in Chiba, the birthplace of civil aviation in Japan. A record-breaking 120,000 tickets were sold for the two days of racing action and there was heavy media coverage all week. “It’s an historic moment and dream come true for us to hold a race in Japan,” said Red Bull Air Race General Manager Erich Wolf. “It’s wonderful and we’re honored to be racing here.”
The next Red Bull Air Race will be in Rovinj, Croatia on May 30/31.