After a long and frustrating run at the back of the pack, American Michael Goulian had cause to celebrate in Croatia May 31 after advancing to the final round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Rovinj.
Goulian, flying with recent modifications including a new canopy installed on his Edge 540 for the previous race in Japan, qualified in eighth place at 0:57.541 including a two-second penalty. A clean run (0:55.601) in the Round of 14 defeated fellow American Kirby Chambliss, and Goulian improved his time in the Round of 8, posting a 0:55.2 run against Paul Bonhomme, who was hit with a DNF (did not finish) after exceeding the G-limit in a late turn.
That was about a second behind the podium runs, including the 0:54.012 that secured the victory for Austria’s Hannes Arch, who finished just 0.071 seconds ahead of Martin Sonka and 0.148 seconds faster than Matt Hall. Goulian in the final round suffered the same fate as Bonhomme, however, and he failed to post a time, finishing fourth.
Goulian was nonetheless in a celebratory mood, noting in a Twitter post that “A spot in the final 4 is not easy to come by but there will be more.”
Goulian’s strong showing gave him eight points toward the championship after three of eight races, trailing leaders Bonhomme and Hall who have 25 points each after Arch’s victory propelled him to third in the overall standings with 17 points. Goulian has already surpassed his 2014 season total of three championship points.
The series heads to Budapest, Hungary, July 4 and 5, with Goulian looking to shave more time off his laps through the pylon course that requires high precision and endurance of up to 10-G pulls. Chambliss was quick to congratulate Goulian on Twitter, prompting Goulian to reply: “In Budapest, let’s be there together!!!”