Friday Recap (And Correction)


Now that our electronic devices are playing nice with us we can (finally) quickly recap Friday’s racing.

In the Formula 1 Gold heat we’ve already reported on, what looked like the winner, Josh Watson in Fraed Naught, was officially classified as fourth after penalties for an early pylon cut. That gave sharp flying Justin Phillipson a well deserved win.

Cutting pylons causes a 2-second per lap penalty. Watson was assessed a 16-second penalty in yesterday’s race, meaning he could have cut one pylon on the first lap. The math would be 2-seconds for the remaining 8-laps to come up with the 16-second penalty. In any calculus cutting pylons can mean going from Hero to Zero in nothing flat, so that’s one reason you see many racers giving the pylons what seem like unusually wide berth.

Jeff LaVelle got a great stat to smoke the Sport Gold field with a 398 mph average Friday.

In the day’s other significant race, the Sport Gold heat, the story was Jeff LaVelle all the way. Getting a positively nuclear start LaVelle lead start to finish, chief sparring partner Andrew Findlay trailing a half straightaway behind. This is a different zip code for these two and post-race Findlay said the big gap was the result of his fumbling the start. This is all too easy to do as the finicky Sport Gold turbo engines don’t come up to power smoothly but tend to surge from normal to huge power. This makes the small positioning adjustments when lining up for the air start something of a lottery, and this is what got Findlay. He was pulling back the power just as the race was started, so he was behind the eight ball immediately.

Not to worry, as Friday’s heat is really just a race to survive on the way to the one that counts: Sunday afternoon’s Gold final. LaVelle and Findlay both have healthy airplanes and are all set to race again this afternoon and then for all the marbles on Sunday.

The tightest pairing in Sport Gold remains Sean Van Hatten and Tom McNerney, two of the nicest guys at Reno and running right on top of each other at 348 mph. There was no need to fight each other up in Friday’s heat, so yesterday they were carefully sizing each other up for Sunday. Look for an excellent run from this classic Glasair vs. Lancair pairing two tomorrow. The crew was tending to little things on Van Hatten’s Glasair III Mojo last night and McNerney continues to have a superb, trouble free run in his brand new Lancair Too Much. “It doesn’t even have any oil on the belly,” he said post-race. As long as the airplanes remain trouble-free this could be a test of wills on how much power each of these modestly funded but fast racers is willing to risk.

With Friday’s heat not overly important it is also the time to run alternate pilots, which was the case further down the field. Ralf Aue in Thunder Mustang Clas Thunder (to be piloted by primary pilot Matias Haid on Sunday) finished fifth 20 mph behind the Van Hatten and McNerny duel. Just 5 mph behind Aue was Matt Ramsey in another Thunder Mustang at 323 mph.

Pete Balmer of Switzerland was the last runner in this heat. His Swiss Thunder Lancair Legacy with the polished aluminum prop gave him a 305 mph race average. For reasons unknown Vickey Benzing taxied back from the run up prior to take off and did not start the race.


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