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Americans Bow Out Early at Red Bull Air Race

Throughout the weekend, Red Bull Air Race insiders insisted that for any pilot there is great pressure performing on home soil. It turned out that those early prognostications proved to be true. For Massachusetts’ Michael Goulian, a day he had circled on the calendar the moment the 2016 Red Bull Air Race schedule was released ended in disappointment as he fell in the Round of 14 to Czech pilot Martin Sonka. After posting a clean run, but one that was slower than expected, there appeared to be a ray of hope for Goulian after his rival incurred a two-second penalty. However, seemingly against long odds, Sonka recovered late to secure the win and move to the Round of 8.

Two-time World Champion Kirby Chambliss had more of a twisted tale. With 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi cheering him on from the team hangar, the Texan looked smooth, but Canadian Pete McLeod appeared to be at the top of his game as his run drew to a close. Then, in a stunning development, disaster struck for McLeod as he was assessed a two-second penalty for maintaining an incorrect level through Gate 13. A collective sigh of relief echoed throughout the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds as the specter to of having both Americans eliminated before the first beverage was consumed was averted. Nonetheless, the drama was far from over as it was soon announced that Chambliss was disqualified for exceeding the limit of 2950 rpms. 

I don’t know if the governor went bad or what. It’s nothing that you can control. We’re allowed 2,950 rpm for two seconds, and this was 3.4 seconds, so the prop may have had an opportunity to go around one more time throughout the whole thing, out of 4000 times,” Chambliss said. “But it’s nothing that I can control or see. Now, since we were disqualified, we finished last, for sure we get no points, and we just went from third place to ninth place (in the championship standings). Over one turn of a propeller. I’m definitely not happy. We wanted to do really well here, and we were set up to do really well. Who knows what would have happened.

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