Race Rewind: Indianapolis 2016

A look at the penultimate race of the season

Dolderer on his way

The teams moved to the US for round seven of the 2016 Red Bull Air Race World Championship and were to fly at one of the world's most historic racing venues – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Matthias Dolderer was leading the World Championship by 16.5 points. Matt Hall was in second and if he was going to catch him he would have to beat Dolderer and make sure there was less than 15 points between them for the final round in Las Vegas.

In the first practice session at the new location Dolderer flew out of the blocks and posted a time of 1:04.247. Unsurprisingly Matt Hall was closest to the German, just 0.199s slower. Pete McLeod, who came into this race after claiming his first podium of the season in Germany, was third and looking to kick his season on.

In the second session there was a complete turn around in fortune. Hall had fallen ill and therefore didn't participate in Free Practice 2. Dolderer found himself down in sixth after picking up penalties in each of his runs. Nicolas Ivanoff – who seems to race well in the US – was top of the timesheet with a 1:03.672. Martin Sonka was second and Kirby Chambliss was third, hoping to perform well in front of his home fans.

Indianapolis 2016 in pictures

The final practice session of the Indianapolis race saw Martin Sonka improve on his second place by finishing quickest. Michael Goulian was second and Dolderer third. Matt Hall was back in the cockpit but could only finish the session in seventh.

Yoshihide Muroya took the top spot in Qualifying – and with it the track record. Matt Hall was in second. Nigel Lamb had discovered his best line and finished third with Dolderer just behind him.

The line up for the Round of 14 was to provide some exciting heats. Petr Kopfstein was first to fly on Race Day and even though he posted a quick time, it was easily beaten by Juan Velarde.

Championship leader Matthias Dolderer was flying against Nicolas Ivanoff in Heat 2. Ivanoff flew first and posted a time of 1:05.026. It was a quick time in the conditions, but Dolderer flew perfectly and beat the Frenchman's time by 1.365s. Ivanoff's time was quick enough to see him go through as the fastest loser.

Matt Hall was flying against Peter Podlunsek. The Slovenian pilot posted a slow time, but Hall didn't take it easy, he flew hard and beat Podlunsek by 2.481s.
Heat 7 saw Qualifying winner Muroya up against Cristian Bolton, who was competing in his first Master Class race. Bolton, in a new raceplane at a new track, posted a time of 1:08.532, which included two seconds of penalties. Muroya picked up four seconds of penalties, but was still quick enough to go through to the Round of 8.

Pete McLeod pushed his way past Nicolas Ivanoff in the Round of 8. And despite hitting a pylon, Nigel Lamb was fast enough to knock Juan Velarde out of the race.

Martin Sonka ended his day's racing when he hit a pylon in his Round of 8 run against Matt Hall, could Matt Hall make it three race wins in a row?

Dolderer found himself up against Muroya, who was holding the track record. Dolderer went first and posted a time of 1:02.827 – a time Muroya had bettered in Qualifying. However, the Japanese pilot was unable to repeat the feat and lost out to Dolderer by 0.903s.

The Final 4 was to be Matthias Dolderer, Matt Hall, Nigel Lamb and Pete McLeod. Matt Hall needed to win, or at least collect 1.5 points more than Dolderer, if he wanted to keep his World Championship hopes alive.

McLeod was first to fly and posted a time of 1:05.398, it wasn't his fastest time, but it was smooth and clean. It was the time the other pilots needed to beat. Nigel Lamb flew second and was more than a second faster. Putting the pressure on Hall.

Hall was third into the track and knew all the pressure was on him. He was off his line straight away and clipped the pylon at Gate 2. He pushed hard, but ultimately knew he wasn't going to win the race.

With Hall sitting bottom of the timesheet, Dolderer knew that he just had to fly cleanly to be crowned the World Champion. Dolderer didn't just want to fly cleanly, he wanted to win. His run was perfect and as he crossed the Finish Gate in 1:03.335. Meaning he took the first win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was also to be the first German pilot to claim the World Championship!

The Indy action