Red Bull Air Race: Czech ace Sonka untouchable at Indianapolis Qualifying
With a potential World Championship in the balance at the penultimate stop of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race season on Sunday, the Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka logged the top time in Qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Spain’s Juan Velarde had the second-best result and Matt Hall of Australia was third.
Sunday’s race at Indianapolis’ iconic Brickyard holds momentous importance for the three pilots still in contention for the title: Šonka, Hall and home hero Michael Goulian (USA). Šonka is looking for a record fourth consecutive race win as well as an opportunity to clinch his first World Championship before November’s season finale, and his 1:04.751 was the top of the Qualifying field.
Velarde came closest at 1:05.226 earning second position. But in earlier Free Practice sessions, Goulian served up 1:04.123, and Hall delivered 1:04.900. Given that Šonka can take the season crown here only if his rivals falter significantly, fans can expect a fierce fight.
“It’s a great feeling to win Qualifying, but on the other hand there are no points for this, so tomorrow is the day,” said Šonka, who saw the 2017 World Championship slip through his fingers in Indianapolis.
When asked about his remarkable consistency in recent races, he added: “I have no magic, it’s just the experience probably, and especially the experience from last year – we know how quickly you can lose. I hopefully will be fully concentrated for tomorrow, do my best, and we’ll simply see what the results will bring.”
In Sunday’s opening Round of 14, Šonka is matched up with the USA’s own Kirby Chambliss, who will be looking to bounce back from a penalty-filled Qualifying session.
Hall will face François Le Vot of France, Goulian will go up against Pete McLeod of Canada, and the remaining clashes are: Ben Murphy (GBR) vs. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), Mika Brageot (FRA) vs. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), Cristian Bolton (CHI) vs. Matthias Dolderer (GER), and Petr Kopfstein (CZE) vs. Velarde.
Šonka also earned the DHL Fastest Lap Award for the fastest single lap among all the two-lap Qualifying runs. During November’s season finale at Texas Motor Speedway, the pilot with the most awards will be presented with the 2018 DHL Fastest Lap trophy, and only Šonka, with two awards, has a chance to catch up with Germany’s Dolderer, who holds three.
Be part of history at Indianapolis! The Red Bull Air Race at the world’s original speedway takes off on Sunday, 7 October 2018, and tickets are still available. For ticket information and all the insider news, visit www.redbullairrace.com
Results Master Class Qualifying, Indianapolis 2018
- Martin Šonka (CZE) 1:04.751
- Juan Velarde (ESP) 1:05.226
- Matt Hall (AUS) 1:06.086
- Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 1:06.149
- Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 1:06.273
- Matthias Dolderer (GER) 1:06.442
- Pete McLeod (CAN) 1:06.463
- Michael Goulian (USA) 1:06.505
- Cristian Bolton (CHI) 1:06.695
- Ben Murphy (GBR) 1:06.848
- Mika Brageot (FRA) 1:07.100
- François Le Vot (FRA) 1:07.938
- Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 1:08.657
- Kirby Chambliss (USA) 1:09.163
Photo credit: Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool