Updated: Jun 11, 2018
The 2018 season is speeding up at IDRA! The month of May saw several major races, back to back, that played major roles in determining the current Top 32 Pilot Rankings for the 2018 Challengers Cup. For those who don’t follow the IDRA, the 2018 Challengers Cup is the largest series in the world, composing of 24 races in 12 countries. Individual pilots earn season points, at each race, to be internationally ranked. At the end of the season, the Top 32 compete in the Finals for the World Championship.
Attendees of AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018, in Denver, Colorado, got to enjoy the first ever drone race at AUVSI and the first international level, race of the 2018 season. It was an amazing experience and opportunity to showcase the sport to nearly 10,000 members of the industry. This is how we, as a growing international drone community, can bridge the gap between hobby, sport, and the larger drone market.
Two-time world champion, Shaun Taylor “Nytfury,” from Albuquerque, NM, entered the race as the highest ranked pilot, at #5 Ranked. He had some stiff competition from Team Flight One; #14 Dallas Kemp “Murica FPV,” from Scottsdale, AZ, #17 Elio Mella “EM Drones,” from Miami, FL, and #22 Mackenna McClure “McFly FPV,” from Dunedin, FL, and Mini Quad Club’s #21 Seth Parker “Poisonpilot,” from Fort Collins, CO. As Top Qualifier, Shaun Taylor was the pilot to beat, registering the top times for all 4 rounds of qualifying. Dallas Kemp, Jessika Farrar “Rotorgrrl,” and Dalton Cooper “FPV Captain gave Shaun a run for his money, up to the Final Round, but he came away as Race Champion.
After the victory, Shaun Taylor “Nytfury” moved into the #1 Ranked position in the Top 32 Pilot Rankings; however, there was growing doubt if he could maintain the position with the Genova Internationals, at Gizmark in Genova, Italy, approaching the following weekend. #6 Ranked Moritz Werffeli “Lazy,” from Zurich, Switzerland, the Race Champion from the Suhr Regionals in April, was heading down to Genova, with #15 Ranked Florian Gluszka “FloFPV” and #23 Ranked Maxime Guarnero “MadMax FPV,” to earn more season points and test their skills against some of the best pilots in Italy. There was talk that the Swiss pilots were fast, but the claim needed to be settled on the track.
To try and take the #1 Rank from Shaun Taylor “Nytfury,” #6 Ranked Moritz Werffeli “Lazy” needed a win at the Genova Internationals. Based on the Suhr Regionals, he was the best pilot coming out of Switzerland, but Moritz would have to get past well-known Italian pilots like, Mirko Cesena “CesiX,” Emanuele Tomasello “EMA,” and Giuseppe Rinaldi “Badside84” from Team NEXXblades Racing. A group of pilots, from Southern France, was also traveling in for the race, but their talent was unknown within the Challengers Cup. During qualifying, Moritz Werffeli was off to a rough start, only completing the course and registering a solid time for the first round. Meanwhile, pilots like Mirko, Emanuele, and Giuseppe were performing well. Emanuele Tomasello “EMA,” was the Top Qualifier.
Things changed during elimination rounds. #6 Moritz Werffeli “Lazy” started to get into a rhythm, consistently registering some of the fastest times and finishing first, in his heats, each round. Based from performances during eliminations, Mirko Cesena “CesiX” and Benoit Couturier “SartoRuis,” from France, were the only pilots who could prevent Moritz from winning the race. They would come up short in the Final Round, solidifying Moritz Weffeli’s position to earn enough points to retake the #1 Rank in the Top 32 Pilot Rankings.
Back-to-back races had shown the top ranked pilot, coming into a race, would outperform the competition and become Race Champion. With more pilots traveling in the 2018 Challengers Cup, Race Champions are starting to trade the #1 Rank in the Top 32 Pilot Rankings (Shaun Taylor “Nytfury taking it from Moritz Werffeli “Lazy” in Denver, only to give the top spot back to Moritz after Genova). The next race would be no different.
#3 Ranked Dallas Kemp “Murica FPV” was itching to move up in the rankings and earn a chance to take the top spot. After the UVify Denver Internationals, at AUVSI XPONENTIAL, Dallas set his sights on the San Bernardino Regionals at the San Bernardino County Fair. For him, and others who competed in Denver, the race was two weeks after, giving Dallas a chance to watch the results in the Genova Internationals. Would he be chasing Shaun Taylor “Nytfury” or Moritz Werffeli “Lazy?” To have a chance, Dallas would have to dominate the race and walk away as the Race Champion, and that could only be accomplished by going through the 2017 World Champion of the Challenger Cup, #17 Ranked Andy Marachilian “Dolma FPV,” and other rising talent like Ashton Gamble “Drobot Racer” and Del Sutton “Noodle FPV,” who also competed in Denver.
Based on the past two races, the highest ranked pilot is winning races; however, San Bernardino was looked at as the possible exception. #17 Ranked Andy Marachilian “Dolma FPV” was coming off a huge, although non-IDRA, head-to-head win against #2 Shaun Taylor “Nytfury” at Open Grove. Andy had been flying fast and was favored walking into the San Bernardino Regionals. Off the bat, Andy and Ashton Gamble “Drobot Racer” were registering the top times during qualifying. #3 Ranked Dallas Kemp “Murica FPV” was responsible for most of the round’s third fastest times, but there was some distance between him and Andy and Ashton. Andy securing Top Qualifier, and the way he performed overall during qualifying, was a confirmation that he was the pilot to beat.
Eliminations were a different story. #17 Ranked Andy Marachilian “Dolma FPV” and Ashton Gamble “Drobot Racer” started running slower times, allowing #3 Ranked Dallas Kemp “Murica FPV,” who was more consistent with his qualifying performances, to begin registering the fastest elapse times each round. The dynamic would remain through all 4 rounds of elimination and Dallas was Race Champion over Andy, Ashton, and Del Sutton “Noodle FPV,” in respective order.
Now #1 Ranked, Dallas Kemp “Murica FPV” knew he needed to dominate the race to earn enough points to pass #2 Moritz Werffeli “Lazy” and #3 Ranked Shaun Taylor “Nytfury.” Though he wasn’t as fast as #4 Andy Marachilian “Dolma FPV” and #27 Ranked Ashton Gamble “Drobot Racer,” by consistently running low times, the stress of eliminations created some opportunities for Dallas to exploit. The San Bernardino Regionals is now the third consecutive race where the highest ranked pilot walked away as the Race Champion. The Top 32 Pilot Rankings, for the IDRA 2018 Challengers Cup, continue to be verified by ranked and unranked matchups. This is awesome!
As we approach the St. Mary’s Internationals, Race 7 of the Series, at St. Mary’s College of Maryland with Race X Maryland on June 16-17, it will be interesting to see if the rankings continue to hold up. Several ranked pilots are traveling to the Old Line State to compete for a $5,000 purse and another opportunity to move up the Top 32 Pilot Rankings.
For more information about the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) and how to become a member, please visit our website or find us on all social media platforms. As the world’s largest association for recreational and commercial pilots, IDRA is the premier provider of primary liability insurance with worldwide coverage. This a great and affordable service that we provide IDRA members around the world. If need applicable and affordable insurance for your drone event (training, education, demonstrations, exhibitions, races, etc.) please contact us as well.
As always, stay safe, have fun, and we’ll see you at the next race!