Abu Dhabi 2018 reactions: Challenger Cup

The pilots reflect on the first race of 2018

The Challengers watch Ryfa flying

The Challengers made the most of their new Edge 540s today, putting in a fantastic performance to make one of the most exciting races in Challenger Cup history. Here is what they thought of their performances...

1st Florian Bergér
"It's amazing. I'm really happy that I won the race here. In the years before I was second or third, so it's quite a big thing for me. I struggled a lot with over-G penalties, so I tried to fly a conservative flight but fast. I was really impressed when Daniel Ryfa flew in, he had a very nice time and a good run. He was half a second faster, nearly, and then he picked up a pylon hit, and that's it. The secret was to fly on the G limit yet not to pick up a penalty, a little bit on the conservative side but still fast. I tried to be right on the limit and it worked out. My goal for the season is to fly consistent and to be on the podium as often as possible. Perhaps it will be possible to have another overall win of the Challenger Cup but it will be quite tough. "

2nd Luke Czepiela
"Am I happy? Yes and no. I've a long history of bad results in Abu Dhabi. The two races I've flown here in the past I've had pylon hits, so I flew conservatively. It did pay off in the end – second place – I'm happy with that. But I'm not happy with the time, 1.5s slower than Florian is too much. So I will push harder at the next race."

3rd Kevin Coleman
"Pretty happy; it's funny I knew I couldn't be as fast as Danny and Flo, so I just flew conservatively and didn't risk anything. I wanted to get as many points as possible and have them in the bag before working out what we can do in the next race."

4th Dario Costa
"I feel quite happy. I managed to keep it clean and penalty free as I was aiming – nothing more was in my target for this race."

5th Daniel Ryfa
"In the last turn I hit the pylon unfortunately. I'm really upset and p***** off with myself. I was pushing so hard and I didn't know I was going to hit the pylon, but I felt it when I did. Overall I'm happy with my flying; I pushed a lot and my net time was going to be the quickest in Challenger history for Abu Dhabi. It's now time to focus on Cannes. I will continue to push hard. You have to to be competitive, the margins are so small that you have to push, which adds pressure, but I'll be ready for the rest of the season."

6th Patrick Davidson
"It was an interesting experience and there was a lot of information to take in. This morning I was nervous, but the run was my best net time so far, but I picked up a penalty. I'm looking forward to the season and going to new venues with the new raceplane. It's a good learning ground and a great way to get into the Master Class, and now that we have the Edge we're getting closer to them."

7th Daniel Genevey
"I wanted to correct the line I took in Qualifying and I over-G'd which cost me. It's disappointing because it was in the race, but that's how it is. I'm very happy because I had been flying cleanly and fast. I feel comfortable in the new raceplane already."