As Matt Hall enters his sixth season as a Red Bull Air Race Master Class pilot he'll be flying a new raceplane, and not just a new model, a completely different beast.
The 2017 season will see Hall flying an Edge 540 V3 after five successful seasons flying a MXS-R. Hall finished second in both 2015 and last season so how does he feel such a drastic change will affect him? "We are still trying to work out the details with the new aircraft, though it will definitely have an effect on us going into 2017," explained Hall. "We have learned a lot as a race team over the last nine years, using the MXS exclusively – some of our knowledge is transferrable, some is not. We expect to have some teething problems as we learn to operate the aircraft to the full potential that the other teams are already doing, though hoping by the end of the year we have the aircraft where we want it."
Hall is under no illusion that there is a lot of work ahead, but with his highly skilled team it should be relatively painless. "I think a good team can transition between aircraft types without having to start from scratch. We have a good team, we are motivated to make this raceplane fast, and most importantly, have me flying it like I was flying the MXS, so I am part of the aircraft, not flying it through the track," said Hall.
Hall has very limited experience flying an Edge, "I have only flown an Edge twice in my life, and both of those flights were 15 minutes long on the same day back in 2010. I borrowed Matthias' [Dolderer] Edge to see what it was like. I did like it, so I am hopeful when I get into my own Edge, we can be up there pretty quickly," Hall explained.
Hall has finished second in the last two seasons, and for the early part of 2016 he struggled, but like any true professional athlete he has learned lessons from last year. "2016 was a pretty challenging year for us. We were plagued with injury, illness and serviceability. We have sat down and tried to figure out what was causing all of this, and it probably came down to trying too hard. We are therefore taking 2017 as it comes, especially since we have a new raceplane. We are aiming to enjoy ourselves while consolidating the new aircraft and team, with the goal of having a race winning combination by the year's end," concluded Hall.
Hall will be ready to race in Abu Dhabi on 10-11 February. Tickets are available HERE!