But hot on his heels is Austria's Hannes Arch, within striking distance and hungry for the win after a catastrophic failure in the Final 4 in Ascot...
He's back and ready to go, with one thing in his sight – the top step of the podium
MASTER CLASS FREE PRACTICE STARTLIST:
MASTER CLASS FP1 RESULTS:
PODLUNSEK 58.307 (+2s penalties)
ARCH 58.669 (+2s penalties)
LE VOT 59.122
GOULIAN 59.685 (+4s penalties)
VELARDE 1:00.240 (+4s penalties)
IVANOFF 1:01.457 (+5s penalties)
MASTER CLASS FP2 RESULTS:
DOLDERER 56.168 (+2s penalties)
MUROYA 56.684 (+2s penalties)
LE VOT 57.661
IVANOFF 57.692 (+2s penalties)
Willkommen in Deutschland! We are here at the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz for the Red Bull Air Race and the fans are here in their thousands to cheer on home hero Matthias Dolderer...
The atmosphere is already electric, with the grandstands around Europe's only oval track filling up with fans of all ages ready to get their motorsport fix for the weekend!
Challenger Cup Qualifying is underway and we're ready to get going here... it's a great track for the pilots and fans alike here, with tight and technical being the order of the day
In FP3 earlier this morning, it was French pilot Melanie Astles who flew fastest posting 1:04.345 just .490s ahead of Kevin Coleman
Brazilian pilot Francis Barros was unable to participate in the Challenger Class Qualifying session at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz due to illness. He is replaced today by Cristian Bolton
Luke Czepiela of Poland is first to take to the track! He's currently sitting in 5th place overall with two races left to fly including this weekend...
After his debut season in 2014, Czepiela had a year out of the competiton in 2015 and returned to the pack at the start of this year – much to the delight of the eager fans in his home country
He's picked up 8 points so far and made the podium with a 3rd place in Chiba, Japan back in May
And it's a strong start! That's 1:04.767 on the clock!
Next up is Melanie Astles, the first female pilot the sport has seen – putting her well and truly in the media spotlight the past few months
She's having to work hard to not let this distract her from flying well, which is easier said than done
We've seen improvement here this morning for Astles, with a timesheet-topping performance that saw her fly clean through the track without any penalties
Her Qualifying run fails to deliver! She's racked up 6 penalty points out there! It's incorrect level for Astles at Gate 4, followed by sinking low at both Gates 7 and 14! It's a 1:13.925 on the clock...
Daniel Ryfa of Sweden out next and he's sitting in 4th place overall, snapping at the heels of Cristian Bolton who is just 2 points ahead
Ryfa won the first race of 2016 in Abu Dhabi and followed it up with another podium for 3rd place in Spielberg so we know he's got the skills to make it again
And that's a great run for Ryfa! He's controlled and smooth out there, taking it all in his stride... he stops the clock in 1:05.615 picking up 1s in penalties for exceeding the start limit – without that he would have outpaced Czepiela!
Chilean Cristian Bolton to fly next – just four points behind Berger and six behind standings leader Kevin Coleman – he's well within striking distance of a step on the podium at the season final in Las Vegas
A win in Chiba and a 3rd place in Ascot last month sets him in great stead for this race and he was very relaxed when we caught up with him earlier this week
The former fighter pilot is steady out there but it's just not that fast and he moves behind Ryfa with 1:05.632...
Up next it's Kevin Coleman – the one leading the pack in only his first season!