Hello to our fans around the globe from a sunny Las Vegas! We are getting settled in for today's Free Practice sessions, where we'll see who is on fine form for the 2016 season final!
We've had some disappointing news from Team Matt Hall yesterday, which means that the Australian will not be able to fly here in the final race of the year...
We are kicking off now at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the Master Class Free Practice 1 session and the startlist of 13 pilots looks like this:
Cristian Bolton, the newest addition to the Master Class flies first and we've heard that his technician Nigel Dickinson has already reduced the weight of the plane significantly to assist the pilot...
Bolton finished in 13th place at his first ever Master Class race and is super excited to have stepped up to the elite class...
The Chilean sets the pace today with 55.784 including 2s of penalties for climbing in Gate 7... let's see what his second run produces
That's the buzzer again for Bolton, this time at Gate 8 and also he picks up an extra second for insufficient smoke... that's 56.171
Kopfstein to fly next and it's looking a little windy out there in the track... he gets a Safety Climb Out recorded after picking up penalties for incorrect level at Gate 7 and too high in Gate 8...
Second run for the first of the two Czech pilots... and this time he's too high in Gate 9... and another SCO...
Peter Podlunsek of Slovenia files third – like Kopfstein, he's rounding off his first full season in the Master Class at this race in Las Vegas...
It's a penalty party out there for Podlunsek! He's racked up 6s for incorrect level at Gate 4, too high at Gate 9 and incorrect level again at Gate 10... surely the wind conditions are playing their part
That's a 1:00.634 for Podlunsek, and he'll get a chance to work on this again now...
But that's 1s straight away for insufficient smoke, followed by a double infringment at Gates 7 and 10 giving him 5s in total in penalties... it's 59.050 so at least an improvement!
France's Le Vot flies into the track next and he's sitting in 10th place overall so this last race could be his chance to jump up a few places if he can find form...
- Pylon Hit!
And there's our first pylon hit! Le Vot slashes Gate 4 and continues his run, picking up another 2s in penalties for incorrect level at Gate 10... leaving him with 59.362 on the clock
Second run for Le Vot and some work for our airgator team! This is much better – 56.159 with just 2s added for incorrect level at Gate 4
Spanish pilot Juan Velarde is up next... and he's into the track!
That's not bad at all! Penalty free and a pleasing 51.523 which moves him ahead of Bolton by +4.261
Second go for the Spaniard, who is racing in Paul Bonhomme's former race steed...
- Pylon Hit!
But that's another pylon down and a SCO for Velarde!
First of our home race heroes up now... it's Mike Goulian. Currently in 10th place overall...
Just one race to go for Goulian to deliver the goods in 2016 and he's into the track!
It's all green for Goulian and that is a great clean 49.873! He moves into the lead!
But the second run isn't looking so good... it's incorrect level at Gate 4 and he gets a SCO... this is clearly the theme today...
Fellow American Kirby Chambliss flies next...
But it's incorrect level twice for the American so that's 4s added, leaving him way off the pace with 57.004 – well behind Goulian
And it's incorrect level at Gate 10 – so another 2s and a slow time of 56.738 which moves him into 5th place with half the field to fly
Pete McLeod of Canada up now and alongside Chambliss, he's in contention for third place overall in the 2016 World Championship... and we're expecting good things from this pilot
That's good work from McLeod! It's a clean 50.415 which is just +0.542 behind Goulian
And this second run is very promising... it's all green on the split times, he's really nailing the lines and it's clean flying again! He stops the clock in 49.275 to move +0.598 ahead of Goulian and now it'll get interesting out there...
The track here at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway has remained the same for three years, since we first landed in the Nevada desert
The current track record was set in 2015 by Matthias Dolderer with a time of 48.325s so this gives us an indication of where the pilots need to be
But third time lucky could be the secret here for those who know the track well