Peter Podlunsek flew out of the blocks today in Free Practice 1 setting the fastest time of the day, with Pete McLeod quickest in the second Free Practice session, while there were problems for both Yoshihide Muroya and Cristian Bolton. Day one has proved that smoothness is key.
Due to technical issues with their raceplanes, Bolton and Muroya did not fly in Free Practice 1 or 2 in Porto today. Their race teams are working to ensure their technical issues are solved for Free Practice 3 and Qualifying tomorrow.
The first session for the Master Class pilots was as tense as could be, with the pilots finding their way in the Porto track. Podlunsek was the third pilot to enter the track and set a lightning quick time of 1:07.052 – in his first run – that nobody was able to beat. Kirby Chambliss looked closest in his first run, but a penalty for climbing in the gate cost him two seconds and the championship leader was pushed down to ninth on the timesheet. Pete McLeod was the second fastest in FP1, he was 0.732s behind Podlunsek, who has never finished top on the timesheet in the Master Class before.
Juan Velarde, who had made some aerodynamic modifications to his plane, looked settled in the track and posted 1:07.832, which was enough to see him in third on the FP1 timesheet. Petr Kopfstein was fourth, just behind the Spanish pilot.
Current champion Matthias Dolderer, was feeling the track out in FP1 and finished bottom of the timesheet with four seconds in penalties. Martin Sonka, who is one point off the top of the standings, also picked up penalties in his run, however he had the fastest net time of the session.
In the later session Pete McLeod took the spoils, posting a time of 1:07.414, in more testing conditions. The wind had picked up and was causing the pilots to rethink their lines. Closest to McLeod was Kazan podium finisher Michael Goulian, just 0.054s behind his Canadian rival. Martin Sonka was third with Matt Hall in fourth.
As with the early session, championship leader Chambliss didn't have the best run collecting three seconds of penalties and finishing bottom of the timesheet. Dolderer improved on his earlier performance and finished fifth in FP2.
With the track being one of the quickest of the season, it seems the reduced start speed of 180kts caught a few of the pilots out, they will have to pay close attention to their Airspeed Indicator (ASI) tomorrow as they are in danger of collecting time penalties or DNFs. You can follow all of tomorrow's action right HERE!
Master Class Free Practice 1 results
Master Class Free Practice 2 results