Brageot on Chiba: “What a pleasure to come back to Japan!”
Mikaël “Mika” Brageot is a fresh face in the Master Class this season, but he’s been familiar to Red Bull Air Race fans since 2014. The French pilot was a member of the Challenger Class for two years, winning the Challenger Cup title before taking on a pioneering role in the Master Mentoring Program of the Red Bull Air Race. With that experience and a gold-medal background in aerobatics, Brageot is the new pilot for the World Championship-winning Breitling Racing Team, and he’s already flown his Skyracer into the points. Here, the Frenchman previews his third race against the world’s best pilots – in Chiba, Japan.
Mika, from the smile on your face, it’s clear that you’re very happy to be heading to Japan. What makes this stop a special one for you?
On the one hand, it’s because the country is beautiful, and on the other hand, the culture is so nice and the people really seem to enjoy every single moment in life. The crowds in Japan are amazing, and we have many incredible fans following the team, which means so much to us. We thank them all, and we’re really looking forward to racing in Chiba!
Will you have time to enjoy Japan outside of the race?
Yes, I will! The weekend before the race I’m going to be meeting up with the Breitling DC-3 – it’s an iconic aircraft that’s making a world tour. We’re going to be in Fukushima, and I’m really excited to share our passion for aeronautics with the children there. I can't imagine a better way to start race week.
Have you flown in Chiba previously?
Yes, I had the opportunity to fly there last year, though I wasn’t competing. It was my second time flying the Breitling Racing Team’s MXS raceplane through a Master Class racetrack under the Master Mentoring Program. I really enjoyed flying in Chiba despite some very windy weather, discovering more about that high-performance machine through the track.
But this year it will be competition, and at the highest level…
That’s right. It will be a totally different approach in every way. We want to be as competitive as we can, as early as possible in the race weekend.
How have you prepared?
I’ve had some special mental training since San Diego, and we’ll focus on a kind of "meditation" to bring out my best, and the best from the team in general, with a focus on the performance of our MXS Skyracer. I’ve also continued to work on my fitness, including doing aerobatics, which is always the main part of my G and technics training.
Speaking of the Skyracer’s performance, what has the team been concentrating on technically?
We’ve worked on gaining in aileron efficiency (roll rate) to allow the aircraft to react quicker. Our technician Bugs [Mark] Hensman will keep a close eye on this technical aspect as well as the general health of the aircraft throughout the race.
With all this preparation, what are your goals for Chiba?
Our target will be to fly a confident first Free Practice before flying faster and faster in subsequent practice sessions. Then in Quali we will be looking to be in the top half of the table. Max and Neil [track analysts Max Lamb and Neil Furness] are already working hard on all the options and analysis for this special track in Japan. Our ultimate objectives are to fly faster with consistency and to reach the Final 4 as soon as we can!