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Red Bull Air Races Are Back!

Pete McLeod at Bromont (Quebec) Airshow

Comments from our own Pete McLeod, Red Bull Air Races pilot

Canadian Red Bull air racer Pete McLeod of London, Ontario, provided some personal insights about the news that the races will resume in 2014 with a seven-race circuit. The race format is slightly different, with higher pylons made of a material that is easier to break with a passing wing, and locations on speedways rather than over water. There will also be a rule requiring pilots to use the same standard engine and prop combination.

The locations: I'm very pleased with the 2014 calendar. The only thing it's missing is a home race for me here in Canada! Really, though, the locations are always great, but for me it comes down to the racing - put me in a track anywhere and I'm happy. I think the speedway races do offer a new dynamic, though, and should make for some tight tracks and exciting competition.

The aircraft: I'll be racing the Edge 540 again; however, I've upgraded to the newest V3 model that is more specifically suited to the Red Bull Air Races. I haven't got much time on it yet, and it still needs some tuning to get the handling just where I like it; but it has a lot of potential. It's a blast to fly, and if I can get the setup right, it should shave some time off of my runs.

Flying the races: I think from a sport and spectator standpoint, there will be very little difference in flying from the past. The pylons will be a little higher and track design rules may be tweaked; but I think the final product will be the same exciting racing and flying.

Training: I've been staying busy the last three years with aerobatic/freestyle air show flying. It's a great way to stay sharp and maintain g fitness. The focus now starts to heat up for the racing, though, and I'll start to spend more air time working on cornering and race tactics in my new plane.

Plane mods: There will be some work to do on the plane to meet the new technical standards - most of it firewall-forward. The standard motor will likely be a bit of a step backwards in performance, size, and weight compared to 2010, so we will have to deal with that. Cowl modifications could be required to create space, and that always results in cooling changes. With the tight timeline between now and the first race in Abu Dhabi, we are under a lot of pressure to get it right the first time or risk having to deal with it most of the season. Most of the focus on aircraft mods/work for the 2014 season will be on complying with the new regulations. Once we get in the track and get some data on the new plane, then we'll start looking to improve performance.

See the season preview here. First race is in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on February 28, 2014, so mark your calendars.


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