Pete McLeod Racing 

McLeod Closes Out 2015 Season In Las Vegas
Monday, 19 October 2015 02:48
image: Predrag Vuckovic

LAS VEGAS (USA) - Team Garmin's Pete McLeod of Canada came to Las Vegas hoping to hit a winning streak like he had a year ago when he got the first Red Bull Air Race victory of his career but it wasn't in the cards this year and he ended up in 11th place in the final race of the season on Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

McLeod, who had one podium this season in the first race of the year in Abu Dhabi, got knocked out of the high-speed, low-altitude racing in the opening round by France's Nicolas Ivanoff after getting a late penalty that ruined an otherwise strong run. That dropped him down to eighth place overall in the final World Championship standings with 19 points.

"It’s definitely been an up and down season, a lot of progress in some areas and a lot of struggle in others," said McLeod, the youngest pilot in the world's fastest motorsport series. "I had a great time flying here, but I’m already looking to 2016. I’m looking forward to a few days’ break, then we start getting ready for next season. We have some work to do on the airplane."

Team Garmin spend much of the season trying to get more power out of the engine.

"We struggled this year not having enough speed to allow conservative lines – I always had to push and take risks," he said. "I think I moved forward for sure this year, we did a lot of progress with analysis and I think my flying has matured – but still keeping that racing spirit. I am more consistent and I want to keep that going."

Britain's Paul Bonhomme won the World Championship after taking second on Sunday behind Australia's Matt Hall, who won his second race this season. It was Bonhomme’s third championship, in his 10th season after the British ace won the title 2009 and 2010. Bonhomme, who had to overcome technical problems just before the final race, ended up with 76 world championship points, just five ahead of Hall on 71 with Austria’s Hannes Arch third overall with 34 points.

“It’s amazing, just amazing,” said a sweat-drenched Bonhomme, who had four wins and seven podiums in the eight races this season and scored a record-breaking 76 championship points. “ It was the toughest World Championship I’ve ever had. It was hard work.”

Hungary’s Peter Besenyei, one of the most successful pilots in the history of the race with eight career victories, announced that he was retiring from the sport he helped create in 2003. Besenyei, 59, won the title in the inaugural season in 2003.
McLeod Back In Las Vegas With High Hopes
Friday, 16 October 2015 03:36

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (USA) – Team Garmin’s Pete McLeod returns this weekend to the race track where he pulled off the first and only win of his Red Bull Air Race World Championship career a year ago – in Las Vegas.

The Canadian ace will be trying to avoid the small, irritating penalties that have cost him badly this season in the final race the year on Sunday. A victory in the American gaming capital could lift McLeod all the way from fifth place overall to third. Last year he was fifth overall with 38 points. This year he is fifth with 19 points.

“It’s really hard to believe it was a year ago,” said McLeod of his win here – awarded to him after heavy winds forced the cancellation of the race. McLeod had won the Qualifying session a day earlier. “It was a huge mess last year with the weather and there was a lot of pressure on me in that situation because I qualified first. We’re in a different position this year and a lot of things are different. This race is all about finishing the season on a strong note.”

McLeod has gotten on the podium just once this season, a third place in the season opener in Abu Dhabi. But he could take third overall with a win and the 12 points that come with it on Sunday. He has been hurt by an underperforming engine but also getting untimely penalties for such things as exceeding the 10g limit for a fraction of a second too long – pilots are allowed to exceed the 10g limit for just 0.5 second.

“I would like to fly penalty-free without getting some stupid over-g penalty or over-speed penalty or other kinds of calls of that nature,” said McLeod, who has also been hurt in the past for just barely exceeding the 370-kph speed limit at the start. In the last race in Fort Worth, McLeod was having a brilliant run in the Round of Eight and came close to knocking out Britain’s Paul Bonhomme in their head-to-head heat. But McLeod exceeded the 10g limit for a fraction of a second too long and was disqualified.

“My net time on the first lap was the fastest first lap on that track ever,” said McLeod. “I really had some runs in Fort Worth that were really fast. I was ahead of Paul at that point and feel I could have beaten him out there in Texas, which would have changed things dramatically for the championship.”

Indeed, McLeod went packing and Bonhomme went on to win the race in Fort Worth to move eight points ahead of Australia’s Matt Hall, who was second in Fort Worth in the world championship race. The title race would have narrowed considerably if McLeod had beaten Bonhomme.

In the battle in Las Vegas for third place overall, Austria’s Hannes Arch leads with 30 points, Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic is in fourth with 28 points. There are three more pilots breathing down Arch’s back in the race for third – Nigel Lamb (GBR) has 20, McLeod (CAN) and Matthias Dolderer (GER) have 19 each.

“It would be nice to get third overall and hopefully I’ll fly well here,” said McLeod. “We’re already focused on 2016. We’ll be looking to put down a fast time every time I’m out in the track.”
McLeod Battles Hard In Texas Red Bull Air Race
Monday, 28 September 2015 00:08

FORT WORTH, Texas (USA) – Canada's Pete McLeod pushed Red Bull Air Race World Championship leader Paul Bonhomme to the limits in their Round of Eight showdown in Texas on Sunday but the Team Garmin ace got knocked out by a penalty while pushing for the win.

McLeod’s day started strong, qualifying 3rd leading into race day, and charging past American Michael Goulian in the opening Round of 14 on a scorching hot Texas afternoon. McLeod was full of confidence heading into the high-speed, low-altitude battle against Bonhomme -- even though the two-time world champion is the points leader this season and had three victories in the first six races. McLeod started off on a record setting first lap, but got hit with the penalty through the pull up gate on the 2nd lap for exceeding the 10g limit – for just a fraction of a second more than 0.6 of a second that is permitted by the rules.

"I was flying the track well and I was feeling good out there," said McLeod, who had high hopes going into the race after a superb qualifying round on Saturday. McLeod was third in Qualifying, just 0.037 seconds behind Germany's Matthias Dolderer on pole position.

"I was definitely going for the win, not just to put a time down," said McLeod of his hard-charging attempt to knock Bonhomme out of the race. "Unfortunately I was a couple of a hundredths of a second too long on the over-G. I don't look at this as a mistake – I would rather go out pushing hard and trying my best. It is what it is."

Team Garmin's Pete McLeod received a disqualification for exceeding the 10g limit on a tight turn midway through his Round of Eight battle against Britain's Paul Bonhomme that ruined the Canadian's race. But McLeod remains in the hunt for third place overall in the world championship standings going into the season finale in Las Vegas on October 18 -- the spot where he got the first and only win of his career a year ago.

Bonhomme went on to win the race, his fourth victory this season, in the Final Four, beating Australia's Matt Hall into second and Japan's Yoshihide Muroya into third.

McLeod, whose best result this season was third in the season opener in Abu Dhabi, is in sixth place overall with 19 points from seven races but could still move up as high as third overall with a victory in Las Vegas next month. The battle for third place also heated up on Sunday with Martin Sonka, who got fourth place in Fort Worth, moved to 28 points and within two points of Hannes Arch of Austria (30). Nigel Lamb of Britain (20),McLeod (19) and Dolderer of Germany (19) are all also in the chase for third place.

McLeod Grabs Top 3 Spot in Texas Qualifying
Sunday, 27 September 2015 00:37

FORT WORTH, Texas (USA) - Pete McLeod put in a strong performance when it counted most on Saturday and grabbed third place in Qualifying on Saturday ahead of Sunday's Red Bull Air Race at the Texas Motor Speedway. The Team Garmin pilot from Canada was especially pleased when he set his personal best time in Qualifying on the race track set up on the tarmac of the famous NASCAR race track in Texas as he was only a fraction of a second off the pace set by Germany's Matthias Dolderer on a blistering hot day with temperatures rising above 30 degrees.

"I had smoking fast times time and set a track record for myself in Qualifying," said McLeod. "I'm stoked to qualify third with my personal best time on this track. I was only 0.037 seconds behind Dolderer."

Dolderer, getting his first Qualifying victory, stopped the clock in a time of 55.584 seconds while Team Falken's Yoshihide Muroya of Japan was in second place with a time of 55.610 seconds in Qualifying for the seventh race of the eight-race season. One notable fact is that the "Class of 2009" claimed the Top 4 positions in Saturday qualifying, showing a full coming of age for the pilots. Pilots Matthias Dolderer, Yoshihide Muroya, and Matt Hall all joined McLeod as rookies in the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship series. 

McLeod also saw success here in 2014 with a Qualifying win, and a 3rd place podium finish to round out the race weekend. If the Garmin pilot can stick to his tactics and can complete his runs through gates 7-8 cleanly, perhaps we will see him clinch the top step of the Texas Podium.  

Bonhomme could clinch the 2016 world championship on Sunday if he wins (12 points) and Hall were to finish fourth (5 points) or worse in the field with 14 of the world's best pilots. Bonhomme -- who has won three races so far this year in Abu Dhabi, Chiba, Japan and Ascot, England -- could also clinch the title if he takes second place (worth 9 points) and Hall finishes seventh or lower. But if Hall makes it on the podium the championship battle will go down to the final race of the season in Las Vegas on October 18.

Be sure to follow Pete McLeod on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for the latest updates from the Texas Motor Speedway.

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Las Vegas, USA
2015 - 10 - 18
FEB 13-14
Abu Dhabi - U.A.E.
MAY 16-17
Chiba, Japan
MAY 30-31
Rovinj, Croatia
JULY 4-5
Budapest, Hungary
AUG 15-16
Ascot - Great Britain
SEPT 5-6
Spielberg - Austria
SEPT 26-27
Dallas/Fort Worth - USA
OCT 17-18
Las Vegas - USA

RBAR 2015 World Championship
1 Paul Bonhomme 76
2 Matt Hall 71
3 Hannes Arch
4 Martin Sonka
5 Matthias Dolderer 26
6 Yoshi Muroya
7 Nigel Lamb 20
8 Pete McLeod
9 Nicolas Ivanoff 15
10 Michael Goulian 13
11 Kirby Chambliss 9
12 Peter Besenyei 8
13 Juan Velarde
14 Francois Le Vot
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