McLeod Finishes Fourth in Spielberg Air Race

A new set of challenges confronted Team Garmin pilot Pete McLeod during the second leg of the 2016 Red Bull Air Race circuit in Spielberg, Austria, but the Canadian was ready to face them. With cold temperatures, gusty winds, and snowfall accompanying a race track with unique obstacles and changing elevations, McLeod soldiered through adverse conditions to finish the weekend in fourth place.

The field was posting quick track times in practice sessions all week, and despite turning in several fast runs himself, McLeod finished the qualifying round in eleventh place. This pitted him against the fourth fastest qualifier, Nigel Lamb of Britain, in the Round of 14. A penalty-free run by McLeod wasn’t enough to beat the former world champion Lamb, but a new rule for the 2016 season kept Team Garmin alive. This year, after the seven heat winners from the Round of 14 are determined, the pilot dubbed “fastest loser” with the quickest qualifying time among those eliminated, advances on to the Round of 8. In Spielberg, McLeod was the fastest loser.

Pete McLeod of Canada performs during the qualifying day of the second stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on April 23, 2016.

With new life in the Round of 8, McLeod faced Australian and 2015 championship runner up, Matt Hall. Both pilots turned in blazing, penalty-free runs during the heat, but the Canadian McLeod bested Hall by less than 4 hundredths of a second – putting him through to his first Final Four of the season.

The Final Four included familiar faces in Nigel Lamb, Austria’s Hannes Arch and Matthias Dolderer of Germany. McLeod turned in one of his fastest times of the week, but came up just short as Dolderer took the top podium spot, followed by Arch in second, and Lamb third.

“To be in the Final Four is always the goal – to fly three times and give yourself a chance to be on the podium. We were just outside the podium here, but overall a great week,” McLeod said.

The fourth place finish earned McLeod seven championship points, moving him up to fourth overall in the world championship rankings. The next stop in the Red Bull Air Race tour lands in Chiba, Japan, June 4-5.