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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

American pilot ends nine-year wait for a win in Abu Dhabi

Red Bull Air Race kicks off world championship season in the capital

Michael Goulian competes in the Master event at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Michael Goulian competes in the Master event at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Mike Goulian had a feeling he would do well in yesterday’s Red Bull Air Race master class in Abu Dhabi but he didn’t want to get too carried away as it had been nine years since he had claimed the top spot on the podium.

The American’s strategy paid off as he took first place in the season opener in the skies above the Corniche, wrapping up a weekend of high-calibre racing.

“It’s been a long time coming to get that second win, but it feels great. I was very fast all week and very consistent,” said Goulian after his victory. “I had a feeling we would do well today, but I didn’t want to put the cart in front of the horse.”

Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya was a very close second, clocking only three hundredths of a second behind Goulian’s winning time of 53.695. The Czech Martin Sonka finished third.

Muroya, who recorded his first ever second place finish, had been one of the pre-race favourites along with Germany’s Matthias Dolderer and Kirby Chambliss, from the US who eventually finished fourth.

“It’s not really where I wanted to be... maybe I played to too safe, maybe we should’ve gone all out and next time I’ll try that,” said Chambliss.

Dolderer had had a very quick qualifying session but was disappointed after only coming in 13th.

“For at least two more races I will be motivated, but if I don’t do well then I will lose that motivation,” he said.

An epic day of racing had seend the starting field of 14 master class pilots whittled down to a final four match-up.

Read more: Jetman wows crowds at Red Bull Air Race

Earlier in the day, Florian Berger of Germany had come out on top in the challenger cup. In a moment of high drama during the challenger cup competition, Sweden’s Daniel Ryfa hit a pylon, knocking him from waht was shaping up to be a leading lap time to fifth place.

The competition moves on to France where it will be held in Cannes between 21 and 22 of April.

Goulian now tops the leader board with 15 points.

“We want to be consistent now and we want to win races, but our aim is make the Final 4, get the points and be in the challenge for the World Championship,” he said.