- Lamb wins Qualifying, Hall survives scare and McLeod wows crowd on home soil -
WINDSOR, ON, June 5 /CNW/ - Britain's Nigel Lamb won the first Qualifying point of his career this afternoon by posting the fastest time in Windsor ahead of Sunday's fourth race of the 2010 season. Britain's Paul Bonhomme was second with Hannes Arch of Austria third and Canada's own Pete McLeod taking the sixth place position with his best flight of the season in front of a crowd of 48,000 spectators. Matt Hall's plane touched the surface of the Detroit River, with his wings and right wheel splashing off the top of the water. The Australian quickly recovered and returned safely to the Race Airport in his slightly damaged airplane.
By picking up one championship point, Lamb cut Bonhomme's lead at the top to two points. Bonhomme has 31 points while Lamb has 29 and McLeod sits comfortably in fifth overall with a total of 19. Hall caused a stir in the first Qualifying session but survived the scare unhurt. The former Royal Australian Air Force combat pilot said he was feeling fine after the incident, which he said was the Red Bull Air Race equivalent of "touching the wall" in Formula One.
"It's been a drama-filled day," said Lamb after posting a course record of 1:09:64. "Obviously I'm very, very pleased. It's just fantastic to manage to come out on top today." Lamb was glad to cut Bonhomme's lead: "I'm in the mix. It's not quite half way through and it's a long season," he said.
Bonhomme put up a gallant fight to catch Lamb in the battle for the point on the Detroit River track that straddles the Canada-U.S. border. The defending champion was flying immediately after his compatriot and was leading by 0.12 seconds at the first interval before losing pace at the end of the first of two laps to finish just 0.47 behind in 1:10:11. "I thought that was a good effort," Bonhomme said. "It was a good attempt. I'll have a look at the sector times and see where we can improve tomorrow."
Arch, who had a massive pylon hit in training on Friday, bounced back in style with a strong first Qualifying run. The Austrian was headed for the lead in the second run but got a late disqualification that left him third. "It was once again an exciting day," Arch said. "It was a pretty cool day for me because I got back into my flying. I felt safe, I felt comfy. Maybe there was something the judges saw but I don't know yet. I had a really good run and I'm happy about that. I'll fly faster tomorrow."
McLeod was third after the first Qualifying round but slipped back to sixth after the second session. "I'm happy with the qualification results," said McLeod. "Sixth place secures us a spot in the Top 12 tomorrow. The week has been amazing for the team and I. The support from fans and the city of Windsor has been a huge motivator. I am looking forward to Race Day tomorrow."
American Michael Goulian was seventh with compatriot Kirby Chambliss eighth.
Hall was challenging for the lead in the first Qualifying session when he suffered an aerodynamic wing stall. His left wing and then right wing skimmed the surface of the river. His right wheel cover hit the water as well but Hall was able to regain control of his MXS-R aircraft and climb out of the track. His plane suffered damage that makes it impossible for him to race on Sunday.
"The plane is damaged but will be recoverable," he said. "Our game plan is to get some rest now. It will hit me harder in a few hours' time. I've been in tight situations before. I'm disappointed for putting myself in that situation but we'll move on from that. Everything's fine."
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