Strong Flying in Las Vegas by Pete McLeod
LAS VEGAS – SPORTS – Canada’s Pete McLeod upset the Red Bull Air Race World Championship leaders in Qualifying on Saturday in Las Vegas to win pole position for Sunday’s race. McLeod turned in a flawless performance under bright sunshine and temperatures above 30 degrees to win Qualifying in the world’s fastest motorsport series for the fourth time this season and the 30-year-old Canadian, still searching for his first career win, hopes that the luck of Las Vegas will finally be on his side in Sunday’s race. McLeod’s time was 49.588 seconds with Lamb in 49.734 and Dolderer on 50.016.
Britain’s Nigel Lamb, who is locked in a gripping three-way battle for the 2014 championship with compatriot Paul Bonhomme and Hannes Arch of Austria, took second place in Qualifying on Saturday in front of thousands of spectators as the Las Vegas Motor Speedway while Germany’s Matthias Dolderer was third. Arch, who is second overall and even with Lamb on 44 points with 12 points up for grabs for first place on Sunday, was back in fifth place while Bonhomme, the overall leader with 45 points, could do no better than seventh in the 12-pilot field.
“Four times now!” said McLeod, referring to his four Qualifying wins – Abu Dhabi, Ascot, Fort Worth and now Las Vegas. “It would be nice to finally win a race right here. We’re running fast out there. That’s proof that I haven’t always had the best luck on race day. Hopefully Vegas is good to me.”
McLeod, who has been hurt by close penalty calls and inconsistency this season, said even though he is out of the championship race, he nevertheless hopes to win at least one of the last two races and possibly upset one or more of the three pilots still in the title hunt.
“I’d love to win a race,” Mcleod said. “That’s the next step in my progression. You can’t win the World Championship without winning a race first. I’m a potential spoiler for the guys here ahead of me,” he said referring to Paul Bonhomme, Nigel Lamb and Hannes Arch. “I’m enjoying that role as a spoiler. But I’m not going to worry about what the other guys are doing in the championship.”
“I’m coming off a really strong race in Texas and I was really happy with my performance on all four days there,” he said, referring to training, Qualifying and the race. “I very easily could have had a better result than third there. Texas was as close as I’ve ever come to winning. I’m feeling really good here in Las Vegas. We had a chance to do some testing in Canada before coming here and figured out some things to improve the set-up.”
McLeod said that he will also use the final two races of the season to work on focus and flying consistently. “This season has been a little bit turbulent as far as the results go for me. There are a lot of different reasons for that. I need to work on my consistency.”
McLeod said that he had struggled in training in Friday because his engine was not delivering but got the problem fixed in time for Qualifying. “We were fighting engine issues in training. That was pretty frustrating. The guys on the team worked pretty hard on it last night to get some parts changed and set-up right. We had a fuel flow issue and that made it difficult to set the motor up. We just weren’t able to get the power we wanted.”
Qualifying results: 1. Pete McLeod (CAN) 49.588, 2. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 49.734, 3. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 50.016, 4. Matt Hall (AUS) 50.036, 5. Hannes Arch (AUT) 50.291, 6. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 50.426, 7. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 51.092, 8. Martin Sonka (CZE) 51.730, 9. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 52.132, 10. Michael Goulian (USA) 52.200, 11. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 52.511, 12. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 52.950“