There was a lot of pressure and expectation on Daniel Ryfa when he arrived in Abu Dhabi for the first race of the 2017 Challenger Cup. He is the most experienced pilot in the competition and won the season opener in 2016, but the ice-cool Swedish pilot took it all in his stride.
Ryfa was last to fly in the track, which would've put him under more pressure, but he turned it to his advantage. "I prefer to fly last in the race. When I went out to fly I didn't know Florian [Bergér] or Ben's [Murphy] time, but I was able to watch the first guys fly to check out the wind in the track," explained Ryfa. "I then went to focus and try to relieve the pressure a bit. There were delays in the raceplane coming back and it was getting hot, but it worked out really well," he added.
The Challengers felt the pressure in Abu Dhabi; with all of them commenting that the competition was going to be the toughest it's been since the class began in 2014. With Ryfa last to fly he had to beat Bergér's time of 1:00.561. He was a tenth of a second behind the German pilot at the first three split times on his run, but he managed to keep the energy in the raceplane and crossed the Finish Gate just 0.355s ahead of Bergér, which was enough to give him the win.
"This race was really hard, there was a lot of pressure on me," Ryfa said afterwards. "All the other guys are flying really well, so you have to have everything really clear in your mind, and know how you're going to fly the track. All the raceplanes are the same, so there is no room for error, you can't make any mistakes and have to keep everything really tight and clean. In the end it worked out well so I'm very happy." Ryfa concluded.
The next race for the Challengers will be in San Diego on 15-16 April. Get your tickets HERE.