15 Kvě 2015

Sonka hopes winds make Chiba track more difficult

Chiba, Red Bull Air Race No Comments

CHIBA, Japan – Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic is hoping for a windswept Red Bull Air Race World Championship track in Chiba, Japan this weekend that will make it more difficult than it appears to be at first glance. The former Czech Air Force fighter pilot excels on the more technical tracks and was at first worried that the fast out-and-back one-lap track in Chiba might not be as challenging for pilot skills as other tighter two lap tracks in the world’s fastest motorsport series have offered in the past. But then he saw how the powerful winds and waves ripping across Tokyo Bay onto the Makuhari Beach and realized it might not be such an easy track to fly afterall.

“I don’t really like this track – my favorite tracks are the more technical tracks with tight turns,” said Sonka ahead of training for the weekend’s Qualifying and race – his 15th career race. “This is a very straight track with two turns. It’s straight and fast. It’s more about airplanes. I think there are probably some faster airplanes in the field so we’ll see what happens. But the weather could be a factor. It’s been very windy and we haven’t been able to train yet.”

Sonka, who got a career-best third place in the final race of the 2014 season in just his second year, was flying well enough in the season opener in Abu Dhabi in February to land on the podium – posting the third and fourth fastest times in several training sessions. But he got hit with a two-second penalty in the knock-out round against underdog Yoshi Muroya of Japan and ended up 10th in Abu Dhabi. Muroya went on to take sixth place.

“I was pleased witth my track times in Abu Dhabi,” he said. “We were quite high in the time sheets. The time in the race wasn’t that bad either, the seventh fastest. But because of the head-to-head system and the two-second penalty I didn’t to through, unfortunately. I got a two-second penalty for ‘incorrect wing level’ in one of the gates. I just started the turn about one-tenth of a second too soon, just a fraction of a second too soon.”

Sonka’s team worked on improving the engine cooling system on the drawing board and in simulations over the last two months but is not sure whether the modifications can be implemented in the airplane in time for the race due to the shortened training period – reduced due to a typhoon that swept across the region earlier in the week. “We’ll probably stick with the old set-up and intakes and not race with the new ones because we haven’t had much time for testing.”

The Red Bull Air Race, in which the world’s top 14 pilots navigate a low-level slalom track made up of 25-meter high air-filled pylons at speeds of up to 370 km/h, is the official World Championship of air racing recognized by the FAI – Federation Aeronautique Internationale. The eight-race 2015 world championship kicks off on Saturday.

Hopefully I will have some time after the race to see at least Tokyo. Otherwise we’re just working on the airplane
This is my first time in japan so I’d like to see it. It’s a beautiful country. I’d like to see something more than just the airport and the hotel.

The track?
I don’t really like this track. My fav tracks are more technical tracks with tight turns. This is very straight with two turns. Otherwise it’s very straight and fast. It’s more about airplanes. I think there are faster airplanes in the field so we’ll see what happens.

In abu dhabi you got knocked out yoshi?
I didn’t pass cuz of penalties. 2 seconds. Incorrect level.
We were quite fast. In trainings we were third or fourth or fifth so we were quite high in the time sheets. Also the time in the race wasn’t that bad. But with the penalty of course …it was still the 7th best time, even with the pen. But because of the system head to head we didn’t get through.
Pen for incorrect level. I didn’t know about the pen during the flight. Didn’t recognize any istake. I just started to turn too early going into the next gate. When I was in the gate. It was just a fraction of a section too soon. If I had waited 1/10th of a second I’d have been okay. At this speed that’s hard.

I was pleased with my track times in AD. There are still many things we have to improve. But yeah it was still just the first race of the season and many other guys came with improvements. Yoshi has a new airplane. During the season we’re going to have to get faster and faster to stay near the time and not make any istakes. If you have a pen you can’t think of getting on podium.
Improvements? We were focused on simulation system…we came with some new intakes for the cooling for better cooling. That’s what we aimed to to do. We’ll see how the improvements will work here
But unfort cuz of the weather we won’t have much time for testing. Most probably we have to just stick with the old tested set up and intakes and not race too much with the new one.