Feb 08


Kirby Chambliss (USA)

Photo by Andreas Schaad


For the first time since 2010, world championship points will be awarded to the top three qualifying positions. 3 points will go to the pilot in first position, two points to second position, and 1 point for the pilot who finishes in third.

“I’d say there’s definitely a little more pressure to do well in qualifying,” says Kirby.  “We always say race day isn’t until Sunday [or Saturday in this case], but with points on the line, every point counts.”

In addition to the new point system, there is also a new G-rule; a pilot may not exceed 11G’s at any point in the course. Doing so will incur a one-second penalty. Similar to previous years, a pilot will still receive a “Did Not Finish” (DNF) penalty for exceeding 12G’s.

“Adjusting to the G rule is six of one, half a dozen the other,” states Paulo Iscold, team tactician. “It is an adjustment all pilots will have to make, but it has a bigger effect on our team. A rule was also added that prohibited any modifications to flight controls. The combination of these two rules together are going to be a big learning curve for Kirby.”

Last year, our team integrated an innovative flight control system, which mixed the elevator with the aileron, acting like a flap. This made our airplane faster on the turns, but heavier for Kirby when pulling G’s.

“Removing the system created a whole new feel for Kirby,” continues Paulo. The controls are much lighter now, which makes it easier for him to pull more G. He now has to re-learn pulling G’s in this configuration in addition to the rule that reduces the maximum G allowed in the track.”

During the practice sessions prior to qualifying, Kirby flew well but battled with the G rule. We may not have been the fastest overall, but we still remained in the top half of the time sheets. Moving into qualifying, the track became extremely competitive with just one-half second separating the top five pilots. Kirby received penalties in both qualifying runs which hindered placement. The better of the two times, 54.571 seconds, resulted in 13th position.

“The qualifying session didn’t go quite as we planned,” shares Kirby. “We’re still adjusting to the new flight controls in conjunction with the new G rule. Although we ended up in the bottom half of the results, an advantage to that is you get to fly first in your heat on race day. Tomorrow we plan to put the pressure on Pete by laying down a clean, fast run.”

Head to head pairings for tomorrow’s Round of 14 follow:

  • Heat 1: Matthias Dolderer vs. Mika Brageot
  • Heat 2: Christian Bolton vs. Martin Sonka
  • Heat 3: Francois Le Vot vs. Juan Velarde
  • Heat 4: Petr Kopfstein vs. Michael Goulian
  • Heat 5: Matt Hall vs. Ben Murphy
  • Heat 6: Kirby Chambliss vs. Pete McLeod
  • Heat 7: Nicolas Ivanoff vs. Yoshihide Muroya


Abu Dhabi Qualifying Results:

  • 1. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 3
  • 2. Pete McLeod (CAN) 0*
  • 3. Michael Goulian (USA) 1
  • 4. Martin Sonka (CZE)
  • 5. Mika Brageot (FRA)
  • 6. Juan Velarde (ESP)
  • 7. Ben Murphy (GBR)
  • 8. Matt Hall (AUS)
  • 9. Francois Le Vot (FRA)
  • 10. Matthias Dolderer (GER)
  • 11. Christian Bolton (CHI)
  • 12. Petr Kopfstein (CZE)
  • 13. Kirby Chambliss (USA)
  • 14. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA)


*Due to a technical infraction found in the post-qualifying inspections, Pete McLeod’s qualifying points were deducted, although he was able to maintain a 2nd position finish.

For more information, visit www.redbullairrace.com.



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