BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
Pete McLeod has kicked off the 2015 Red Bull World Championship Air Race season in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates back on the podium with a third place finish behind Great Britain’s Paul Bonhomme and Australia’s Matt Hall.
“It was a great day for Garmin Racing and for me—and hopefully this is the first of many podiums to come,” said McLeod, who got off to a flying start towards his goal of becoming the youngest world champion in the sport’s history at the age of 31 in this year’s eight-race championship.
It was a pretty hard-earned result, said McLeod, who struggled with an under performing engine in the qualifying rounds.
In total, there were 14 pilots from 11 countries battling for championship points in the race, which sees the pilots navigate a low-level slalom track made up of 25-metre-high, air-filled pylons at high speeds while enduring forces of up to 10G.
Last season McLeod ended up fifth over all and said he is hoping to learn from what worked and didn’t work last year when he was the fastest qualifier in five of the eight races but only won the one race in Las Vegas.
“I looked at last season closely and what I could learn from it,” he said. “I’d like to be the fastest guy out there. That’s eating at me a little bit. I want to have that hammer that I can lay down and put the pressure on the others. You need that hammer if you want to make a serious run for the championship.”
The current 2015 World Championship Standings are as follows: 1. Bonhomme (12 points), 2. Hall (9), 3. McLeod (7), 4. Arch (5), 5. Lamb (4), 6. Muroya (3), 7. Besenyei (2), 8. Ivanoff (1), 9. Dolderer, 10. Sonka, 11. Le Vot, 12. Goulian, 13. Velarde, 14. Chambliss.
Race #2 is scheduled for May 16-17 in Chiba, Japan. Visit www.petemcleodracing.com for more information.