Canada’s Pete McLeod 13th in Ascot Qualifying after winning pole last year

Canadian Pete McLeod had a solid day in Las Vegas for the Red Bull Air Race Championships.
Canadian Pete McLeod

Red Bull Air Race
Red Bull Air Race
ASCOT, United Kingdom – Canada’s Pete McLeod was pleased with his performance in Qualifying in front of 18,000 spectators at the Red Bull Air Race in Ascot on Saturday even though he finished back in 13th place in the 14-pilot field.

Oddly enough, last year McLeod finished first in Qualifying but ended up getting knocked out in the first round to finish a disappointing 11th in a 12-pilot field. So the Canadian is hopeful he can turn the tables around once again on Sunday but this time in the right direction.

“It was a tough day at the office today,” McLeod said after getting hit with a two-second penalty that left him in the bottom half of the table with a time of 1:09.996, or 4.608 seconds behind pole winner Paul Bonhomme of Britain. “But the good news is that my net times were improving rapidly every run. I’ll have to bring my best to the track tomorrow for the first round as I’m up against Matt Hall, who has been very fast lately.”

Hall took second in Qualifying in the world’s fastest motorsport series with a time of 1:06.284. Bonhomme, the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship leader, stopped the clock in a time of 1:06.023 to claim his third Qualifying victory this season after hitting speeds of up to 370 km/h from a static start on the obstacle-filled track set up on the infield of the racecourse that dates back to the early 1700s.

The only blemish for Bonhomme, the most successful pilot in Red Bull Air Race history with 17 victories in 62 races, will be that he will now have to face off against Arch in a tantalizing opening round head-to-head duel in Sunday’s race, the fifth of the eight-race season. Arch, who is in second overall after winning the last two races, had an off-day, pulling out of the race track midway through his first Qualifying run and then being knocked out by engine trouble just before the start of his second Qualifying run.

Sunday’s race, which will be broadcast on starting at 13:00UTC, will be the first held over land after the first four races took place off the shores of Abu Dhabi, Chiba (Japan), Rovinj and over the Danube River in Budapest.

In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world’s top pilots endure forces of up to 10G as they navigate as precisely as possible through a low-level slalom track marked by 25-metre high air-filled pylons.

RESULTS QUALIFYING ASCOT: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 1:06.023, 2. Matt Hall (AUS) 1:06.284, 3. Martin Sonka (CZE) 1:07.172, 4. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 1:07.443, 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 1:07.864, 6. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 1:08.075, 7. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 1:08.136, 8. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 1:08.220, 9. Michael Goulian (USA) 1:08.438, 10. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 1:08.439, 11. François Le Vot (FRA) 1:09.280, 12. Juan Velarde (ESP) 1:09.996, 13. Pete McLeod (CAN) 1:10.631, 14. Hannes Arch (AUT) DNF

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