Glider Racing Day 1

The first Gliding Grand Prix Race was held on Sunday from Turin with a task of 178.3KM. This took the pilots south from the airfield along the western edge of the Susa Valley allowing the pilots to choose to stay over the hills and mountains or use the valley floor.

The weak conditions at first kept the competitors together with several groups taking separate routes but still meeting up at each turn point. At the half way stage less than 5 minutes separated the entire fleet of 11 gliders.

The lead changed hands many times with 8 of the 11 competitors taking a turn at the front. As the fleet progressed south the conditions improved, with climbs of 3 to 4 metres per second and fast inter-thermal speeds up to 200kph from some. Having reached the southernmost turn point, the competitors turned north again using the same hills they had marked as good thermal sources on the way south and the rate of progress north improved. Stephano Ghiorzo from Italy flying VS made an early break hoping to use his superior local knowledge to make a jump on the chasing fleet. However, the elusive 4m/s thermal from lower down did not appear and frustrated Stephano had to be patient in a 1.5m/s thermal at the northernmost turn point.

Meanwhile, his Italian rivals of Giancarlo Grinza and Gerogio Galleto followed behind. They had climbed high in the mountains and were both able to take a long glide following the mountain ridges and round the turn point 3 while Stephano was still gaining height slowly in the valley. Sebastian Kawa, never far from the leaders, joined Giancarlo and pushed hard down the next leg south to the final turn, leaving Georgio to climb again in the mountains. Sebastian found a climb just short of the final turn point and, with 200m height advantage over Giancarlo, he centred more quickly and climbed faster. A short fast climb put Sebastian in the lead with enough height to round the final turn and complete the last leg to the finish with a 4 minute lead.

Meanwhile Georgio’s tactics of climbing high in the mountains put him on final glide half way down the penultimate leg rounding the final turn point behind, but above, Giancarlo. Georgio pushed hard with ground speeds of over 270kph and finally overhauled Giancarlo just before the finish line to take second place over the line. Later this result was reversed when Georgio was found to have been flying too fast at the start and he received a 35 second penalty.

The top 3 positions were confirmed as Sebastian Kawa 1st, Giancarlo Grinza 2nd and Georgio Galetto 3rd.