Spain's Velarde gets set to battle it out with Japan's Muroya – pretty evenly matched in this heat although Muroya spoke of engine power issues in Qualifying so let's hope his team got to work overnight to sort that
And this is what it's looking like out in the Abu Dhabi track today – glorious conditions and perfect for racing!
CURRENT TRACK CONDITIONS:
Max last 10 min: 10 kts
Temperature: 23.1 ℃
Air Pressure: 1011.5 mbar
And Muroya is cleared into the track to set the pace for Velarde!
Muroya could easily take this if he's having a good day but we know better than to call it ;)
It's clean, solid and a 00:52.126 for Muroya! But a late call from the Race Tower... and it's a DNF for over G!
But Velarde gets a free ride straight into the Round of 8 so he can use this run to iron out any final kinks in his race line... unless he gets a DNF of course
Here's comes Velarde... always smiling, always calm
He's got a great team setup and now in his 3rd season in the Master Class he could start to really climb the ranks
He still needs to post a good time so he is reseeded for the R8 against a slower competitor
Gate 3 and 10 heading is very tactical, says Bonhomme
It's 00:52.795 and that's another reason to smile!
The 2016 World Champion to fly first and he needs to guarantee a clean run here as McLeod is a worthy opponent
He sets the pace for the young Canadian and this is tidy, an improvement from Qualifying
Dolderer 00:52.984 – is it enough to take him through? It's a clean run and appeared calm, so Dolderer at his peak is tough to beat
Canada's McLeod up now and after a 4th place in Qualifying, we've seen that he's in a good place here in Abu Dhabi
This is the year he needs to really step up as he enters a 6th season
Almost neck and neck, it's the first split and it's red... he's taken a different line in the VTM so he needs to make it up in the later part of the track
But it's still in the red... despite a better approach to the second VTm
He could hope for the Fastest Loser spot and with 00:54.064 he loses his heat against Dolderer
The field is the tightest it's ever been this year and we've got at least half the pack all within striking distance of each other, making the World Championship the most intense yet
We know it's going to be a tense season – those head to heads really providing the drama at every race