In the weeks and days counting down to the Japanese stop on the Red Bull Air Race calender, the pilots and their team analysts will have spent much time putting their heads together in an attempt to forecast the best racing lines, and how the weather will affect their track times too.
After the elevations of the land-based track of Spielberg, the race in Chiba couldn't be more different. In Austria, the race was amongst the mountains, and snow fell on Race Day. In Japan, the race will take place – almost literally – at sea level, with the average temperature for June is 21°C. Running a raceplane engine in these warmer conditions is a challenge in itself, and it will be the pilot who can keep his engine cool who will benefit the most.
Chiba is a unique location this season, as it is the only track that will be in open water. As a result, the pilots may have to adapt their flying styles to suit this one-of-a-kind 2016 racing location.
Retired World Champion and 2015 Chiba race winner, Paul Bonhomme, had this to say about the Chiba track: "The racetrack was interesting last year and what happens will depend on the wind. If there's a south-westerly wind, it'll push people over to one side of the track and after a vertical turn, it might be hard to make the correct adjustment at the speeds flown in the Red Bull Air Race."
Out in open water the pilots have less reference points and if the sun is shining, there can be reflection off the water, making it even more difficult for the pilots to precisely navigatethe track and stick to those all-important racing lines.
If you want to see how the pilots expertly handle the flying conditions in Chiba, book your tickets HERE for the third stop on the Red Bull Air Race calendar, place on 4-5 June. Don't forget, fans can also catch the action and live commentary via redbullairrace.com/live over race weekend too.