02 Nov 2018

FAI World Drone Racing Championship: Killian Rousseau leads Qualification

Qualification is over in the FAI World Drone Racing Championships in China, and the 64 pilots to have made the next round have been announced.

Top of the list with the fastest lap time is Killian Rousseau, the 14-year-old from France who won this year’s FAI Drone Racing World Cup.

Having completed three Qualification Rounds and nine laps of the 650m race track, the average of his three best lap-times was 24.746 seconds. 

That’s an average speed around the course of 94.53km/h.

Speaking after the Qualification rounds had finished Killian explained what he thought gave him the edge: “Consistency and speed across the whole track,” he said.

“I train in a field between gates and flags, and I also spend time on the simulator.”

Did he get nervous on such a big stage? “Yes, I get nervous, but it is a positive sort of nervous. It gives me energy to fly well.”

Close behind Killian was Bill Schuette (USA), 21, with a lap time of 25.408 seconds.

He flew a very fast final few laps after qualifying for a re-flight. “I flew 24 seconds on the last round. That’s great, it pushes my average up.”

He added: “I was on my last lap and my Dad, who is my supporter, was on my shoulder telling me to push it! It’s a very fast and flowy track, more like a race car track.”

Schuette said he spends more time than other pilots building his drone. “I design and build my own, and I spend a lot of time on it. It means I have a good understanding of what is going on. I’m at one with the machine.”

In third place was Thomas Bitmatta (AUS), who averaged 26.608 seconds over his best three laps.

Best woman was GaYeon Mo (KOR) with 29.678 seconds. Twenty-nine pilots in total averaged 30-seconds or less around the track.

The top 64 pilots now move forward into the next rounds. 

They will start to fly at 3pm local time with a round of 16 races. Each race will see four pilots race against each other, with the best two from each race move into the next round.

A round of eight is scheduled to take place at 6pm local time.

The quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals will then take place on Sunday evening from 6pm local time.

The winner of the competition will go home with the prestigious FAI gold medal and a cheque for $24,000 – the winner’s share of the prize pot.

Meanwhile, the 64 pilots who did not make the cut will compete against each other in second-chance races to determine their final overall ranking. Their scores and ranking will count towards the final Nations medal, so there is still all to play for over the weekend.

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Photo: Marcus King / FAI