The Master Class pilots of the Red Bull Air Race have remained positive in their hangars despite not being able to get the first taste of the 2017 Chiba track.
Today's (Friday) Free Practice sessions were cancelled due to high winds at the Race Airport. In a statement, Race Director Jim DiMatteo said: "The current weather conditions give us no choice but to cancel Friday's Free Practice sessions. The strength and direction of the wind means that the pilots can't take off at the Race Airport. We tried throughout the afternoon to find take off slots, however we were only able to accommodate the calibration flight. Safety for the Red Bull Air Race is of the utmost priority."
Paul Bonhomme was able to test all the timing equipment in the calibration flight, which takes place before the day's first official flights, but it was deemed during his flight that it would not be possible for the Free Practice sessions to take place.
The pilots love flying in Japan due to the thousands of passionate fans that come to watch them race, and even though they couldn't get into the track to test it out, they have remained positive. After finding out the sessions had been cancelled current World Champion Matthias Dolderer was in high spirits about this weekend's race: "It's OK, it's been a hectic day, but if it's too windy it makes perfect sense for the Race Committee to cancel the flying sessions. It's going to be interesting in the track, it will look very different from the cockpit than it does on paper or in photographs, but we are ready. It's a very technical track, so I like it. It looks like a slalom course through the forest."
The pilots face a challenge in Chiba so every second in the track counts. "Not flying today isn't too bad," said current leader in the standings, Martin Sonka. "I always look forward to the next race so it's great to finally be here. We've been working hard analysing the track. It's a technical track and the wind is so changeable that the track could completely change depending on which way the wind blows. But we have been studying for every eventuality. It looks like an interesting track, but we will be ready," he added.
Matt Hall, who due to having a new raceplane would benefit greatly from every moment at the controls, was a little upset after today's sessions were cancelled. "It's disappointing. We've come all this way, and we just want to race. Especially in my situation; I've only flown 12 hours in this aircraft, so I need to get out there and fly it. Every minute is huge for me at the moment," he said.
The weather looks set to be fine for tomorrow's Free Practice and Qualifying sessions, you can follow all the action HERE!