Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 3 roundup

Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN) disqualified, four others get time penalties and Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) breaks free of the pack

‘Strengthening winds favoured the brave…’ Hugh Miller reports from the Red Bull X-Alps 2011

Day three of the Red Bull X-Alps 2011 saw contending race leader Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN) disqualified from the event and Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) finally got airborne and broke free of the pack.

Plus, late on Tuesday evening four pilots had their tracklogs analysed and were given a time penalty of 24 hours.

Heartbreak had been lurking in the wings for Ogi ever since he infringed airspace back on day one following the organisers’ declared ‘no tolerance’ approach to pilots flying into restricted areas. Ogi was one of the few athletes to ever reach Monaco – he came in fourth in 2007 – and his early lead promised a potential second goal finish.

Once the terrible news had been handed out to Ogi, the day settled into a ground war with athletes homing in on the third turnpoint on the Grossglockner. Overcast skies kept the wings packed away and unsurprisingly Romanian Running Man Toma Coconea (ROM) put in some serious legwork to take himself up into the lead for a short while.

Red Bull X-Alps 2011 - The clash of the Titans: Toma Coconea (ROM) and Christian Maurer (SUI1) go head to head on the ground

Red Bull X-Alps 2011 - The clash of the Titans: Toma Coconea (ROM) and Christian Maurer (SUI1) go head to head on the ground

It only took a whiff of flyable conditions to see Chrigel Maurer take to the air and pull off a stunning four-hour flight in such difficult conditions that Paul Guschlbauer (AUT4), who was with Chrigel, wasn’t prepared to even launch! Chrigel has now put a 30km lead on his nearest rival in what is starting to look like a rerun of the 2009 race.

Meanwhile, Martin Muller (SUI2) is languishing at the back of the pack. He was the first man to reach Monaco in 2007 only to be stung with a time penalty for an airspace infringement back in Switzerland. The delay gave Alex Hofer and Tomo Coconea enough time to catch him. Now in 2011, a tactical error on day one means he is now dangerously close to the elimination zone.

Late on Tuesday evening race organisers gave four athletes 24-hour time penalties. The Red Bull X-Alps pressroom reported:

Following detailed analysis of tracklogs and backup tracklogs, four athletes have been given 24-hour time penalties for entering the buffer zone of airspace near the Gaisberg on day one.

The pilots are Ivar Sandstå (NOR), Vincent Sprungli (FRA1), Clément Latour (FRA3) and Nuno Virgilio (POR).

The contestants start their 24-hour time penalty at 0400hrs, Wednesday 20 July, and must remain at their locations until the penalty period is up.

All the tracklogs had to be collected from the athletes on course, and were verified at HQ.

Rules state that if an athlete infringes by up to 100m, they are given a 24-hour time penalty. Any more than 100m of violation leads to disqualification.

The penalties mean the four pilots are now at a big disadvantage as the competition enters its fourth day.

Tomorrow morning the Red Bull X-Alps gets even spicier when the last man gets eliminated. At the moment it’s looking to be Ivar Sandstå (NOR), who’s currently 12km behind Muller. 48 hours later though, when the next elimination comes, it could well be Muller – or one of the other three penalised pilots – who gets the axe, unless they get some flyable conditions and make up some ground.

Meanwhile… Team Norway have posted a YouTube clip of flying through ‘some turbulence’ at the start of the race on 17 July. Hold onto your hats!

Ivar Sandstå stays in control on the Red Bull X-Alps 2011. Clip: Snjoras

Follow the race LIVE on the Red Bull X-Alps live tracking system

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