The eight-year absence from San Diego has been well worth the wait! In two races of the 2017 season we've had six different podium finishes so far. There was surprise after surprise here in California. The Master Class pilots have the final say on the day's racing:
1st Yoshihide Muroya
"I'm quite happy – we had a very hard time in Abu Dhabi and we've been working really hard for months. We were very consistent from Free Practice 1. We set a very good pace and we kept it. We just stuck with the same lines and the same tactics. This is a bit different than Chiba last year. This is my second win and we've been getting stronger. My crew and my family have been helping a lot to help us get more stable and consistent, and I thank them. The next race in Japan is going to be a big one, and it's a big step forward to win here as I head to my home country."
2nd Peter Podlunsek
"It's really hard to describe how I'm feeling. Of course I'm super happy to be on the podium. For me it was a success to reach the Round of 8, but I wouldn't be standing here now without my team and my friends and I'm super proud of them all. We made our plan to get the fastest line and we succeeded. I was just keeping to the plan. In the Round of 8 and Final 4, I didn't want to fly to the limit. If you fly on the limit it's a short step to getting a penalty."
3rd Matthias Dolderer
"We're happy, confident and we've seen that we're really fast. I took a too risky line on the second last gate on the Final 4 and it didn't work out how I would've liked. But we're on the podium and that's the goal for every race and I'm looking forward to Chiba. It's amazing how quickly you can get disappointed with finishing third."
4th Kirby Chambliss
"I'm stoked to be racing here, I call San Diego my second home and I love flying here and I could feel the enthusiasm from the fans. I pushed hard in the Final 4 but ultimately it didn't work out for us today but we'll push ahead. We were struggling with this track all week. I couldn't get below the one-minute mark, but we were consistent. I was aggressive in the Final 4, but I pushed too hard and I paid the price, but we go again in Chiba."
5th Martin Sonka
"We were not fast enough. I'm a little bit disappointed not getting into the Final 4, Yoshi flew well and I was fairly satisfied with the time but Yoshi flew faster. It was simply not enough. San Diego is amazing – I've been here in 2007 as a commentator for Czech TV and was looking at all the stars flying here and now I'm racing here – it's a very special moment for me. The city is beautiful and I hope we come back again."
6th Petr Kopfstein
"We actually had a really good race weekend. We posted some really good times that were close to what we flew in the simulator, and in the end we flew really conservatively and moved to sixth position so the overall result is good. It's really amazing to fly here. I saw the Air Race in San Diego in 2009 and now friends from high school were able to come and see me. It is a privilege to fly here."
7th Nicolas Ivanoff
"I made an error this afternoon. I was really confident in the raceplane. I felt I was really in front of the plane and I didn't see the mistake at all. When I saw the time with the penalty I thought it was a joke, but it was not. I'm very, very disappointed."
8th Michael Goulian
"I was trying to be too aggressive and just didn't give myself a good angle going through the gate. It was a really, really fast time. We will learn from it. Today was a letdown. I went out there in the Round of 8 trying to fly really fast and tried to cut the angles a little too tight. It's a game of inches sometimes. We're flying fast all the time and I needed just a few more inches and we would have been right there. The environment in San Diego was fantastic, I hope this is a location we will come back to quite often."
9th Matt Hall
"It's great to be in San Diego, it's a beautiful city and the track is really nice to fly. It's disappointing because we thought we had a chance to be on the podium, but we came here knowing we had a new plane. What we're happy about is we're flying it nicely and I think I was still competitive. We did a good race and Peter did a better race, and that's racing. I was really happy with the run, I felt it was exactly the run I was trying to do. I thought, regardless of what he did, I was going to fly my own run, which is exactly what we did. This whole year there is a lot of development we've got to do. It's a year of learning. At the moment it's all about learning to operate the new plane nicely. Basically it's a factory aircraft and we have a long list of things to do – it's going to take time, money and training. We're looking at a 6-month development program and our objective as a team is to have an aircraft we can win races in. We'll be there by the end of the year, I think. The first part is to learn to operate the aircraft up to its limits."
10th Pete McLeod
"The track felt good. I went out and executed my plan and I was happy with my flight up against a very tough opponent. It's wonderful to be back in San Diego. I have a lot of ties here and I also think it's a great race venue – there's an energy and excitement to have the race back here. I like technical tracks, and the backside of this track was not only technical but fast. Our plane is faster than it was, but everyone else has taken a jump up as well. You can be fast and run the exact race you want and you still get beat."
11th Juan Velarde
"I'm not so happy to have stayed in the Round of 14, but I think San Diego is really fantastic. We all are enjoying the weather, the sights, the venue – it's a very nice place. And for me it's very exciting to be racing here in California. We won't have time or access to work on the plane before Chiba because it will be travelling to Japan. But we will look at revising what we have done with the winglets to see if we can improve them, and also try to get electronic improvements before the next race."
12th Francois Le Vot
"I found the location just amazing and personally this is the race I've enjoyed the most so far. Of course after the intensive work we've done I could have expected a better result, but I'm not disappointed. I've done the maximum to achieve the instructions I received from my tactician, and my timings were better every flight. Given the airplane I race currently, this sounds promising for when I am able to fly my new raceplane later this season."
13th Mikael Brageot
"Basically we had a good week, even if it was difficult with technical problems. It is what it is – the team is strong and the raceplane is fast, so we will come back very fast next time. For all of us it has been a fantastic week with nice weather, the fabulous landscape, and amazing crowds. It's definitely one of the best locations so far and I will remember it. San Diego, I will come back again!"
14th Cristian Bolton
"I think San Diego is a great venue. This is my first time here and I like the vibe of city, and flying over the Bay is amazing. I am very happy to be here at this race. It's unacceptable to hit two gates in the Round of 14 – that was not in the plan and I am disappointed. But not we're already looking forward to Chiba. We're still modifying the airplane; that's the goal for the year because we're still heavier and slower than the other raceplanes."