On 15-16 April 2017, Mikaël Brageot of France will add his name to the list of dashing young pilots who have soared through the skies of San Diego, California, when the Breitling Racing Team takes off for the second stop of the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season.
San Diego’s near-perfect climate, including sunshine for over 265 days a year, has made it more than just a popular holiday destination. The city boasts a rich aviation heritage. One of the world’s most famous airplanes – the Spirit of St. Louis that Charles Lindbergh piloted in history’s first solo nonstop transAtlantic flight – was built in San Diego in 1927. And the Top Gun naval school made famous by the hit movie of the same name was located in the city as well. Aviation is still important in the area, and locals are passionate about flight. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, crowds flocked to the three previous Red Bull Air Race stops over the bay.
“It's important to aim high,” Brageot says.
The 2015 Challenger Cup winner is ambitious but realistic about the challenge ahead of him. Remarkably, the Breitling Racing Team is already in the World Championship points after his ninth-place Master Class debut in Abu Dhabi on 11 February – flying confident lines with no penalties across Qualifying and Race Day.
“I think what we achieved was fantastic, and a solid start to the season,” Brageot assesses. “I'm a competitive person, so I can't help be a little disappointed with my time in the Round of 14. I had been flying the track faster, with better angles all week, but what is very apparent is it's much harder to get every line, every pull, and every angle perfect when the pressure is really on. We know this and will be looking to improve in the competitive atmosphere in San Diego.”
The team’s raceplane, the Skyracer, was stellar in its first outing. “We haven’t changed anything between the two races,” Brageot confides. “We will be looking to keep consistency with our time in the track, so it’s important not to change the set-up of the aircraft.”
While the Skyracer was in transit between the Emirates and North America, Brageot – a two-time European Unlimited aerobatic champion – trained in the complementary discipline: “I’ve been doing plenty of aerobatics training to get ready for the French Nationals. It helps to keep my mind sharp and my G fitness up so I’m in the best physical condition I can be.”
He continues, “I hope to improve at each race, so the goal in San Diego is to win the first head-to-head, and to keep myself focused on the podium.”
About Red Bull Air Race:
Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship celebrated its landmark 75th race at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.