Merewether's Matt Hall looking to put Russian mistake behind him as he guns for return to the top

AIRBORNE: Matt Hall Petr Kopfstein (Czech Republic) fly over the Aggstein castle in the Wachau in preparation for the Austrian leg of the Air Race Championship. Picture: Joerg Mitter
AIRBORNE: Matt Hall Petr Kopfstein (Czech Republic) fly over the Aggstein castle in the Wachau in preparation for the Austrian leg of the Air Race Championship. Picture: Joerg Mitter

Australia’s Matt Hall will be looking to recover from a disastrous pylon-hit in Russia’s second stage three weeks ago as he prepares for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship sixth round in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

Hall’s elimination in the second of three stages in the skies over Kazan have sent him tumbling right back in the mix for the championship title after leading the first four stages of the series, and will now be duking it out with America’s Mike Goulian and the Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka for the top spot.

It’s not where the Merewether pilot wanted to find himself halfway through the season after bagging two first places finishes early on, as the disappointment in Russia has seen Goulian spring six points clear at the top, and left Hall level with Šonka on 49 points.

Hall believes the result in race four means little in the overall scheme of things however, and knows that “things just don’t go your way” in the hunt for the title.

“Obviously we would have liked a better result in Kazan, but we haven’t thrown our hands in the air and said that it’s all over,” Hall said. “If the tables could be turned in that one race in Russia, where we went from leading to sitting third, then that means in one race we could go back to leading again.”

“With three races to go this season, the Kazan result is not a problem at all. It would be nice to lead all the way to the end of the year, but in a competitive environment that is a luxury.”

The return Wiener Neustadt may evoke memories of the past – the Aussie pilot claimed his maiden career victory in Austria in 2015, knocking out 19-time race winner Paul Bonhomme to announce his place in the Air Race scene, but Hall believes it doesn’t pay to be “superstitious”.

Instead, he’s focused on the standing start his squad has earned heading into the next leg of the series.

“This weekend will also be the first race of the season where we have a standing start, and don’t enter the track at speed,” he said.

“The last time we had a race with a standing start [Indianapolis, USA, 2017] we won qualifying. We know our plane is good in this race format and it has improved since Indy last year.

“Overall we’re happy and I feel we have the team, the plane and everything else lined up well too.”

Qualifying begins at 12am AEST on Sunday, September 16, while the main race commences at 10pm AEST on Sunday evening.

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