Red Bull Air Race 2017: Dolderer wins San Diego Qualifying
Defending World Champion Matthias Dolderer of Germany won the Qualifying round at the Red Bull Air Race in San Diego on Saturday 15 April 2017. He fought off strong challenges from the USA’s Michael Goulian and the Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka to take the pole for Race Day on Sunday, 16 April 2017.
More than 20,000 spectators watched the race in San Diego, California on Saturday as the reigning Red Bull Air Race World Champion battled for the top spot in Qualifying at the second stop of 2017. As the pilots raced at speeds of 370kph/230mph, defending title-holder Matthias Dolderer of Germany came out on top with 58.332s, while only two-thousandths of a second separated the USA’s Michael Goulian (58.978) and the Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka (58.980) in second and third.
Dolderer was the dominant force of the 2016 season, winning the second stop of the year and going on to clinch the championship even before the season finale. But it was Šonka who claimed the race win at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi to put himself at the head of the overall standings for the first time in his career.
Qualifying determines the head-to-head matchups for the opening Round of 14 on Race Day, and Dolderer will go up against Master Class newcomer Mikaël Brageot, a Frenchman in only his second World Championship race.
“It was a cool run. I had a lot of fun and I was totally relaxed, and I think that’s key,” said Dolderer. “Abu Dhabi wasn’t that bad – I was in the Final 4 and I almost finished second. Here I’ve started to like the track; I’m really comfortable now. There’s always a little bit of a mental secret, also.”
Dolderer also earned the DHL Fastest Lap Award for San Diego. A component that defines a new standard of speed at the Red Bull Air Race, at each stop the DHL Fastest Lap Award goes to the pilot who records the fastest single lap among all of the two-lap Qualifying runs. At the end of the season, the pilot with the most awards across the eight races will be awarded the DHL Fastest Lap trophy. Currently Dolderer and Goulian are tied with one award each.
Photo: Matthias Dolderer during qualifying in San Diego. Photographer: Andreas Langreiter / Red Bull Content Pool