Dolderer was the dominant force of the 2016 season, winning the second stop of the year and going on to clinch the championship even before the season finale. But it was Šonka who claimed the race win at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi to put himself at the head of the overall standings for the first time in his career. Goulian, whose last win was in 2009, seems to be flying with renewed confidence this season. Another American, two-time titleholder Kirby Chambliss, was sixth in San Diego Qualifying and looks to come back strong on Sunday.
Qualifying determines the head-to-head matchups for the opening Round of 14 on Race Day, and Dolderer will go up against Master Class newcomer Mikaël Brageot, a Frenchman in only his second World Championship race.
“It was a cool run. I had a lot of fun and I was totally relaxed, and I think that’s key,” said Dolderer, who had placed fourth at the season opener. “Abu Dhabi wasn’t that bad – I was in the Final 4 and I almost finished second. Here I’ve started to like the track; I’m really comfortable now. There’s always a little bit of a mental secret, also.”
Dolderer also earned the DHL Fastest Lap Award for San Diego. A component that defines a new standard of speed at the Red Bull Air Race, at each stop the DHL Fastest Lap Award goes to the pilot who records the fastest single lap among all of the two-lap Qualifying runs. At the end of the season, the pilot with the most awards across the eight races will be honored with the DHL Fastest Lap trophy. Currently Dolderer and Goulian are tied with one award each.
Results Master Class Qualifying, San Diego 2017: