Just days after dominating the airspace over Brasilia to claim the national championships, hang glider pilot Jonny Durand is in the box seat to claim his first ever Pre World Championships title at the same location after three days of competition.
The best pilots in the world are there, barring current world No.1 Christian Ciech, and Jonny has his eyes set firmly on taking the opportunity to seize the No.1 ranking for himself after he missed the Euro Championships that helped Ciech claim the coveted ranking.
But first he’ll have to overcome a close-fought five-man battle for the lead and tough conditions that have seen all gliders grounded today out of fear of safety.
“There’s 100 pilots in this comp, which is probably the biggest comp I’ve been in in a long time, but I’m feeling pretty good about it,” Jonny says.
“There are over 20 countries represented and a lot of good pilots here. Of the top 10 guys in the world, I’d say there are nine here. And if I do well here, I’ll probably take that No.1 ranking back off of Christian.”
Jonny’s currently third overall with a 70 point deficit to the leader after what he described as a woeful day yesterday.
“I was leading in the beginning and took a couple of risks, got low and nearly landed and had to stay in the air and watch everyone fly over me,” says Jonny, who won day one.
“There are no second chances in a comp like this with so many good pilots, so with 100 points separating the top five it’s on for the last three days.”
At least nine pilots have been ruled out of contention all together after scoring zero points for flying above the 9000 feet height limit, due to airspace restrictions.
“If you exceed it by more than 30 metres you get zero points for the day and the winner yesterday was within 10 metres,” Jonny continues.
“If you go over the buffer and get zero, you can’t recover from that. You’re down and out once there’s a zero on the board.”
While Jonny dominated last week, this week’s courses are proving far more difficult after the contest was moved out of the city and into the desert on account of political events. That makes every course all but untried and evens the playing field considerably.
“We used to be able to land right in the city by the White House but there’s been a lot of stuff going on in the capitol,” Jonny says.
“Air space is really restricted so we’ve been having the finish line out in different places. We’ve been flying in different terrain that we haven’t really done here before. And we’re designing each task to be progressively harder.”
Competition will resume to tomorrow with gliders approved to return to the capitol.
“There’s three days to go and I only have to make up 70 points. So, that’s like two minutes tomorrow - fingers crossed,” Jonny finished.