Juan Velarde will begin his third season in the Master Class of the Red Bull Air Race this year. The first two years have seen him improve and become more comfortable in the track. The Spaniard, known as the smiling pilot, will need his game face on to take the next step, but he and his team will be ready...
In his debut season in the Master Class Velarde struggled to be competitive, it was a steep learning curve after leaving the Challenger Class. He failed to collect a single World Championship point.
He returned in 2016 with a new raceplane and started to make waves. In Spielberg he took the top spot in Qualifying and proved he could mix it up with the more experienced pilots. He finished the season 11th with 14.25 points. Now with two years experience, it's time to start picking up even more World Championship points.
"We expect 2017 to be our consolidation year in the Red Bull Air Race," said Velarde. "After two years of gaining experience in the Master Class, we expect to be able to get some good results from the beginning of the season by consolidating all we've learned in the past years."
For Team Velarde to achieve their goal they have been working hard in the offseason. "Regarding the raceplane, we are aiming to have a new set of winglets and a few other aerodynamic improvements ready by the second race of the season," explained Velarde. "We are working with a team of engineers in order to optimise the performance of the plane," he added.
Away from the raceplane there will also be a shake up in terms of roles within the team. "We are also working in the way we distribute and assign tasks in the team in order to streamline the workflow as much as possible by improving the internal processes," said Velarde.
So for 2017 Velarde seems to have his team and raceplane will be optimised, but what about the pilot himself? "I have been working on my fitness level as well as new training techniques in order to prepare myself both physically and mentally for the races," explained Velarde.
You'll be able to see Juan Velarde in action on February 10-11 at the first race in 2017 in Abu Dhabi. Tickets are available now.