The rules of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship state that if Qualifying is cancelled for any reason, the pilots will face off against each other based on current World Championship rankings. Top will race against bottom, second against 13th and so on. Because of this it has created some spectacular head-to-heads that will make for fantastic racing:
Michael Goulian v Nigel Lamb
Goulian and Lamb came into this season with completely different expectations. Michael Goulian is constantly improving and his race team is really clicking. He's getting more confident the more time he spends in his new raceplane. He made the Final 4 in Rovinj, but pushed too hard in his run and suffered a DNF for over G. He also had more disappointment in Ascot when it looked like he was going to go through to the Round of 8 as the fastest loser right until the last run. But Goulian will never give up and his training times were faster than Lamb's.
Lamb has the ability to turn around his fortunes when it matters most. The reigning World Champion has struggled to adapt his flying to new modifications and has changed things a lot during the season. This seems to have unsettled his flying style and he is getting frustrated with his results. Lamb will draw on his second place from Spielberg last year and hope it will push him on into the Round of 8.
Peter Besenyei v Martin Sonka
Since Besenyei took delivery of his new Edge 540 V3 in Budapest he has grown in confidence. The Hungarian pilot's results have improved greatly. Every flight he takes he appears more and more comfortable in the track. Besenyei felt he had found the correct line during the second training session in Spielberg so he will go out in the heat full of confidence.
Martin Sonka did not enjoy Training. He felt his aileron setting wasn't right and was not giving him enough feel in the raceplane. After back-to-back podiums early in the season his raceplane was underpowered at Ascot and he dropped points. Besenyei will fly first. If he posts a good time, Sonka will have to keep his composure to beat it. This is too close to call.
Nicolas Ivanoff v Pete McLeod
Only three points separate these two in the World Championship standings, so it's going to be close. Ivanoff struggled in training and felt he was three seconds off the pace. This won't have been helped by his slow entry speed into the track. With the 61m elevation between the Start Gate and Gate Four he needs to be as fast as possible or he'll lose speed and be off the pace.
McLeod is feeling really good. He was pleased with his time and feels his raceplane is running well. He would've loved some time in the track on Saturday, but his pragmatic approach means he'll go out all guns blazing in an attempt to get to the Final 4.
Kirby Chambliss v Hannes Arch
Chambliss finds flying at Spielberg a lot of fun; he prefers the technical tracks and will enjoy the opening part of the race. He knows his raceplane isn't the fastest and once it's back the United States it will have extensive work done. Until then, he'll be hoping for a mistake by Arch.
Hannes is well and truly over his Ascot heartache and he doesn't seem to be suffering from any home race nerves. He will feel confident going up against Chambliss, but he knows the American still has what it takes to win. "He's a two-time World Champion and he's proved in training that he can be fast, so I can't be too comfortable. It's my home race and there's nothing more important than winning here," said Arch.
Yoshihide Muroya v Matthias Dolderer
This makes it three from three! This will be the third time in a row that Muroya and Dolderer have faced each other in the Round of 14. Despite their closeness in the World Championship standings, Muroya was quicker in both Training sessions. He is really enjoying his new raceplane as well as his new set up for collecting data for analysis. He will have been buoyed by his podium finish in Ascot last month and be hoping to achieve the same here.
Dolderer will look at the timing sheets and see that if he can fly clean and not pick up any penalties, then he'll have the quicker time in the heat. The Red Bull Air Race Analyst has picked Dolderer as his surprise package this weekend and Dolderer will be motivated by a swarm of home fans who have come to cheer him on. This will be the heat to watch.
Juan Velarde v Matt Hall
Velarde is the only pilot never to have flown at this track before (Le Vot flew here in the Challenger Cup last year) and as it's the most technical of the season he struggled in training. The blind start caused him the most problems in training, and it will be tough to beat Hall.
Matt Hall has had one 'slip' this season and it saw him still finish in fifth place. He has been consistent all season and now has his plan ready. He flies smooth and when he gets to the Final 4 he'll push that little bit more in an attempt to get his first career win. He will have a relatively easy run in this heat, but Hall isn't one to take his foot off the gas, he'll push all the way in every round.
François Le Vot v Paul Bonhomme
Le Vot has had a frustrating season so far. He has set high standards for himself and wants to start scoring points. He still isn't completely comfortable in his raceplane and is struggling to find a set up he likes. The Round of 14 will be tough for him and he'll just want to fly smooth and clean.
Apart from one bad performance in Rovinj, Bonhomme hasn't finished outside the top two in every race. He topped both the timing sheets in Training and looks extremely comfortable in the track, but he was quick to point out that you have to proceed with caution as anything can happen. If Bonhomme doesn't win this heat it'll be the biggest shock of the season!