With two big players out of the running for the Round of 8, and blustery conditions causing a little chaos with the racing lines in the first knock-out heats in Spielberg, the Master class pilots had their work cut out as they battled the clock, the flying conditions and each other for a coveted spot in the Final 4 at the sixth stop of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
As Paul Bonhomme put in a super-speedy and error-free performance, it was Kirby Chambliss who stole the limelight in the Round of 8 as he celebrated winning his first Final 4 spot of the season.
HEAT 8 Goulian vs Sonka
The Round of 8 presented a golden opportunity for Goulian to make his case for the Final 4 and even more points in the 2015 World Championship. A reserved entry time saw Goulian trying to keep it clean and concise in the racetrack. Goulian was gunning for a faster time and the experiened pilot kept his lines clean despite gusts of up to 70kts. But for the American the pace was lacking at 1:01.609. Bolstered by his Round of 14 performance, Sonka headed into the track with speed on his side and clean lines and increasing split times meant that Sonka comfortably progressed through to the Final 4 three seconds ahead of his American rival with 58.698.
HEAT 9 McLeod vs Chambliss
McLeod seemed to have reigned it in with a tidy performance and some impressive turning maneouvres, giving Team Garmin a fighting chance for a spot in the Final 4 with 58.912. Chambliss was hoping for his first Final 4 place of the season and the split times were firmly in his favour as he picked up the tail wind on the return leg. Control and clean flying were the order of the day for the American as he winged his way into the Final 4 with a half second lead on McLeod, with 58.258
HEAT 10 Dolderer vs Hall
Flying conditions were easing as Dolderer headed into the track and the German looked smoothed and comfortable in this critical heat. His lines were a little close to the line and Gate 10 proved to be the thorn in Dolderer's side as he picked up a late penalty for incorrect level flying. Matt Hall had regained his composure after a rocky Round of 14 performance, and the Australian just had to take advantage of Dolderer's penalty. Higher turns seemed to give Hall a better overview of the job in hand and he progressed to the Final 4 for the fifth time this season with 57.721
HEAT 11 Besenyei vs Bonhomme
It as a match of World Championship experience as Besenyei faced off against current World Championship stanings leader Bonhomme. New-found form boosted Besenyei as he looked to be putting in another solid run in the track, but his focus slipped and as he drifted over the Safety Line and was out of the running with a DQ result. For Bonhomme, it once again appeared to be an easy passage to the next round, and the cool, calm and collected Brit put out a clear signal with an error-free performance and the fastest time in the heat with 57.553.
Sonka, Chambliss, Hall and Bonhomme progress to the Final 4.
Here are the official results from the Round of 8: