ASCOT, United Kingdom - Canada's Pete McLeod will looking to pick up where he left off at last month's race in Budapest, where he finished fourth, and avenge last year's bitter disappointment at the Ascot Racecourse this weekend in the United Kingdom -- where he won Qualifying a year ago but ended up 11th in the race after unfortunately hitting a pylon in the opening round. Team Garmin's McLeod will be attempting to coax as much power as possible out of his engine from the only standing start race of the season in which the pilots taking off, like horses bolting from the starting gate, in front of the grandstands of the world famous grass racing track.
"I think the static start could be a good indication of whose engine is making the most power," said McLeod, who still could figure in the 2015 championship battle of the world's fastest motorsport series going into the second half of the eight-race season as he stands in fifth place overall with 15 points. There are 12 points up for grabs for the winner of the race.
McLeod said he enjoys the special challenges of the Ascot race track beyond the enormous pressure on the pilots to get off to a flying start from a static position on the race track -- such as the trees and other obstacles set up on the course in front of the grandstands where 29,000 spectators are again expected to watch the world's top pilots racing at speeds of 370 km/h while enduring forces of up to 10g.
"The track is quite nice and it's fun flying amongst the trees," said McLeod, who is looking for a second career victory after winning Las Vegas last year. "The venue is spectacular, especially with so many fans. Let's hope the weather cooperates," he added, referring to the typically changing English weather that could feature rain, wind and sunshine all in the space of a few moments. "My strategy is to pick up where I left off in Budapest. I'll stick with the plan of flying fast, clean and developing our data analysis capabilities."
McLeod had set the track on fire last year in Qualifying and went into the race as the odds-on favourite but ended up 11th after clipping a pylon in the opening round.
"I hit a pylon, it happens," he said with a shrug. "I'm sure it won’t be the last pylon I hit here in Ascot but I'll definitely be looking to fly penalty-free when it counts. My plane isn't fast enough to be too conservative so I've got to take certain risks to have any chance - that's racing."
The 2015 season is shaping up to be the closest championship battle in the sport's history, where with a dozen of the 14 pilots capable of winning any head-to-head battle. When discussing what it will take to get the better of his competition McLeod stated, "It's true with the teams being very close in lap times this year anything can happen. For me, though, I think I have a chance to be on the podium only if I fly perfectly and we can get everything right with the aircraft. Watch for the start speed to give info on that. It's a result of power. I'll be watching that closely as I've been suspicious about my motor all season."
A live video stream will be available on both qualifying and race day from Round 5 of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship race in Ascot, United Kingdom on www.redbullairrace.com. Rogers SportsNet and TVA will air the Ascot, UK race on tape-delay. Please check local listings for details.