Sometimes things go to plan, and this morning the Formula 1 Gold went exactly as predicted, not that it wasn’t fun to watch it play out.
The three major players were Justin Phillipson, the previous heat winner, in his super light, fast reacting No Strings Attached, along with two “modern” high-aspect ratio winged racers, Fraed Naught flown by Josh Watson and Limitless captained by Justin Meaders.
Phillipson had the faster accelerating, but limited top speed race plane, and was gridded on the front row. Watson and Meader’s mounts are both slower starting, but once wound up a lap or two are distinctly faster than the classic Shoestring design of Phillipson’s No Strings Attached.
More telling, after chasing a mysterious engine issue earlier (was probably low ignition energy) and having mayday’ed earlier in the week, Meaders was sixth on the grid. That meant facing a busy time flying around fifth through third places to contend with Watson and Phillipson.
So the prediction was Phillipson would lead away from the green flag, then Watson would track No Strings Attached down and pass him easily with his superior speed. Of course, anything could happen, including Watson running into traffic or getting forced wide, but barring some upset it was Watson’s race to win.
The question was if Meaders could get around the traffic fast enough to nip Phillipson for second.
First place was settled right away. Phillipson did get out front, but Watson started well, too. Furthermore, he didn’t have Meaders to worry about just yet. Flying a tidier line than he had in the heat races Watson made efficient work of getting up to Phillipson and flying as low, tightly and consistently as he could, there was nothing Phillipson could do as Watson steamed by in Fraed Naught to run off with the lead and eventually the win.
Then it was eyes on Meaders, who by necessity flying high and wide both because needing to pass three airplanes on the outside in the air dirtied by five airplanes ahead of him. In the end it wasn’t enough and Phillipson hung on to a well-earned second place with Watson well out in front and Meaders a bit frustrated and still advancing in third. Good thing for Phillipson these races aren’t 12 or 16 laps long like in the old days.
The speeds were Watson at 235 mph, Phillipson at 227 mph, Meaders 226 mph, Tim Cone at 223 mph, Matt Moore 221 mph, Drew Keenan 202 mph, Chet Harris 201 mph with Eric Dienst close astern at 200 mph.