Posted on: 28th Oct 2015 by: Nigel Lamb
Having posted such good times with the 2014 elevator set-up in Fort Worth, I came to Las Vegas with high hopes. Everything started very well with our team being fastest on Friday in all three Training sessions. After the final practice on Saturday, I noted the lack of headwind and aimed to be sure not to land deep on the very short runway inside the Speedway. What I’d forgotten was the bump just short of the runway markers . . not good to hit this in a racing machine with a short landing gear and minimal propellor clearance! Sadly, I did hit it and the propellor did touch the runway, putting paid to my Qualification round and guaranteeing Hux and the team a late night to change the engine and propellor. I had many to thank the next day and was struck once again by the wonderful spirit we have in the Red Bull Air Race. Not only did the Lycoming Engines team pull a late night but also the guys from Hartzell Propellors and the hangar was way too small to accommodate all those from the other teams who offered to help. Thankyou all!!
The engine had been ‘broken in’ on Lycoming’s test cell and testiment to an amazing team effort led by Hux, all was in order after one test flight on Sunday morning. Despite the dent in my pride, I’d had a good sleep and felt confident going into the Round of 14 despite pulling the short straw . . by missing Qualification, I was up against Yoshi who’d won the day before. Raceday was beset by passing thunderstorms and as the race went on, the wind picked up. . . it was very squally. The rain was heavy in the hold and I set up twice to run in but was asked each time to conserve fuel and hold for the rain to stop in the track. Just as I was thinking fuel would soon become an issue, Race Director Jimmy called me into the track . . it was incredibly bumpy and what a challenge! In these conditions, I knew that the loser of our round would not be fast enough to go through . . with the pylons swaying it needed a slightly conservative line and no penalties.
Considering the conditions I was pleased with my race; it felt good to post the same time in the rough as in benign conditions the day before but it was not good enough to go through. The final two races this season have shown that we have the race pace so I feel very motivated for 2016. We know where to focus our resources over winter to come out strong next year and one thing I will NOT mess around with is the elevator !! . . Constant changing throughout this season has been my achilles heel and a big tactical error on my part. That’s a promise to my team!