Hello and welcome to round 3 of the 2016 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, unfolding this weekend on Makuhari Beach in Chiba, Japan!
We'll be with you for the rest of the week and bringing you behind the scenes access and insight so check in with us wherever you are in the world!
The action began yesterday when local hero Yoshi Muroya led fellow pilots Nigel Lamb and Martin Sonka across from the Tokyo area towards Mount Fuji for an epic recon flight...
The Challengers are first up in the racetrack, with their Free Practice 1 session. Here in Japan we've got Melanie Astles, Ben Murphy, Cristian Bolton, Kevin Coleman, Luke Czepiela and Francis Barros taking on flying conidtions in the Chiba coastline
Later today at 10:50am local time the Masters will be taking their first Free Practice sessions in the track, laying down some times in the only South East Asian race location on the 2016 World Championship calendar.
Cristian Bolton currently taking his turn in the racetrack for the first time here in Chiba. It's looking good... he's just 0.304s ahead of Astles' time with 1:16.857 as his best time so far, with his fastest sector in the fourth split as he heads for the Finish Gate.
Kevin Coleman next up and he's flying hard already... and we've had our second pylon hit of the day already! He's opted for a Safety Climb Out (SCO) this time
... and another pylon hit for Coleman! It's early days yet but the US pilot seems like he's got a lot of work to do today to find those racing lines before Qualifying tomorrow... he's got good base timings, but the penalties are adding up and taking him on a trip down the timesheets.
An improved Run 3 for Coleman, as he clocks in at 1:19.797 with +2s penalty. Without that penalty he could take on Bolton in the top spot but it's all about precision as much as speed.
A late surge from Czepiela in Run 2, as he picks up the page and puts in a clean run with 1:17.511. There might still be time for a complete third Run...
A +3s penalty for Czepiela but Run 2 remains his best time... he sits in 2nd behind Bolton. Barros last up in FP1 today.
Two runs, two penalties for Kopfstein... a slight improvement for Kopfstein in Run 2 and he posts a best time of 1:09.138
Pylon hit for Velarde at Gate 9 in his Run 2... his Run 1 timings included two penalties at Gates 4 and 12... it's a trick track for sure but this is the first real flying session for the pilots and it'll be a case of experimenting and finding the right lines to improve times ahead of Qualifying.
Goulian's first runs are both recorded as DNF for exceeding maximum G... we're not sure yet if that's a pilot error or whether Goulian will need to take a look at his telemetry later today. He's hungry for a podium and has had some promising results in Practice sessions this season so there's no telling just yet.
Two more Masters complete their first flying session in FP1... Le Vot clocks in at 1:09.356, whilst Britain's Nigel Lamb grabs 1:09.900 as his fastest time, including +3s penalties. Lamb's runs feature a number of incorrect level flying penalties but we doubt the former World Champion is too worried at this stage...