Capturing second place at his home race in Spielberg, Hannes Arch is right back on track after the disappointing season-opener in Abu Dhabi. In Chiba / Japan (4-5 June), last year’s World Championship third-place finisher is ready to raise the ante. One key to success might well be a touch of Nepalese serenity the 48-year-old will bring to Japan after his recent trip to the former kingdom. Red Bull TV and Servus TV will be broadcasting the race live.
Hannes, your Facebook account says that this time you prepared for Chiba with a view of Mount Everest: How long were you in Nepal and what were you up to there?
(laughs) That’s one way to look at it, I guess. I was down there for a week. On the one hand to prepare for a project with KTM, a kind of location check by helicopter. And on the other, just to get in some quality hiking and trekking. As you can imagine, there’s nowhere better for that than the region at the base of Everest, and it was really great fun!
Do you need to create mental and physical distance from the Red Bull Air Race between events, or are timeouts like this shortly before a race weekend more of a disadvantage?
I really need that distance. Let’s face it, no one’s out there just sitting in their race plane between events. In fact, the aircraft are generally sent straight to the next location. For me, the mountains are a perfect counterbalance.
How do you manage to shift gears between relaxation mode and competition mode?
That’s rarely a problem, especially in Japan, since the entire venue is wired into race mode. As for the rest, you are just excited at the prospect of flying in the next race and totally focused on getting yourself and the race plane prepared for the start of the event. My passion for racing, plus having a great team to work with, make the adjustment extremely simple. Honestly, it’s not something I give a second thought to.
What lessons will you take from your home event in Spielberg for the upcoming races?
The most important lesson from Spielberg, and also from Abu Dhabi, is that we are absolutely right on track! The team and our plane are purring along, and we’re as calm a group as we’ve ever been, allowing us to work on fine-tuning the things that will take us to even greater success.
What are you looking forward to especially at the race in Japan?
To the challenge of getting a good result despite the difficult conditions. That means the weather, which is always tricky in Chiba, as well as the special rules in place for this course, which includes being forced to fly the vertical turning maneuver high, rather than trying to keep it flat. Right now, it’s hard to understand why, but we’ll try to make the best of it. On that point especially, I hope the extra calmness I’ve brought back with me from Nepal gives me an added advantage (laughs).