Another fantastic race at the St. Mary's Internationals, Race 7 of the IDRA 2018 Challengers Cup! The race was organized by Race X Maryland and hosted by St. Mary's College of Maryland, which provided a beautiful historical setting for the event. St. Mary's College of Maryland is located in the historical town of St .Mary's City, home to the first State House of Maryland (1676) and the first Catholic community in the American colonies.
In addition to the beautiful venue, the Department of Economic Development for St. Mary's County greatly supported the planning of and attractions for the event. Over 1,500 spectators enjoyed live bands, several dozen vendors, local food concessions, and demonstrations from AUVSI and Army National Guard. Above all, many spectators experienced their first Drone Race from the stands, the drone cage on the track, and first-person-view (FPV) from the goggle bar.
Heading into the race, the St. Mary's Internationals was gearing up to be another awesome ranked match-up. #8 Ranked Mackenna McClure "McFly FPV," from Dunedin, FL, USA, was entering as the highest ranked pilot after a semifinal position at the UVify Denver Internationals, Race 4 of the Series, at AUVSI Xponential. #16 Ranked Jessika Farrar "Rotorgrrl," from Rockville, MD, USA, had also not competed since Race 4, but had performed exceedingly well at the UVify Denver Internationals, finishing in 3rd Place after a tie-breaker with #1 Ranked Dallas Kemp "Murica FPV." Entering the race with the most momentum was #10 Ranked Del Sutton "Noodle FPV," from Litchfield Park, AZ, USA, after finishing 4th Place, at the San Bernardino Regionals, Race 6 of the Series.
In the past 3 races of the 2018 Challengers Cup, the top ranked pilot, entering the race, was Race Champion, defeating all new competition to the Series and lower ranked or unranked competition. This has been a great phenomenon, these past 2 months, that have validated the current Top 32 Pilot Rankings. However, Race 7 in Maryland could be the exception.
Several highly talented pilots would enter the race to challenge #8 Ranked McFly FPV, #10 Ranked Noodle FPV, and #16 Ranked Rotorgrrl.
During Qualifying, the performances of several pilots quickly identified some of the match-ups that would characterize the Semifinals and Finals during eliminations. Bill Schuette "Billster," from Vienna, VA, USA, managed to register the top Elapse Times (E.T.) each qualifying round, easily solidifying himself as the Top Qualifier. No other pilot would register E.T.'s under 1 minute. Russel Jackson "Big Russ," from St. Petersburg, FL, USA, had the second fastest E.T.'s for Round 1 & 2, but crashed in Rounds 3 & 4. Big Russ was the Runner-Up for Top Qualifier. Other top E.T.'s were shared amongst Angelo Re "Angelo FPV," from Pittsburgh, PA, USA, Thomas Wilke "Wilke FPV," from Alexandra, VA, USA, Farnam Farshneshnai "Freshness," from Reston, VA, USA, Olaf Hichwa "Viking FPV," from Bethesda, MD, USA, and #8 Ranked McFly FPV.
Eliminations, Round 1. Without 32 pilots to fill the bracket, most pilots enjoyed Round 1 as another opportunity to run the track, without the stress of eliminations, and focus on earning solid season points from finishing positions and registering the top E.T.'s during the round. Bill Schuette "Billster" and Russell Jackson "Big Russ" took advantage of those opportunities. It also appeared that #8 Ranked McFly FPV was heating up, registering faster E.T.'s than in qualifying. #10 Ranked Noodle FPV avoided some trouble in Round 1 when he won his second run, after crashing and placing 3rd in the first run. Other notable performances, in Round 1, were from Thomas Wilke "Wilke FPV" and Olaf Hichwa "Viking FPV."
Quarterfinals, Round 2. Bill Schuette "Billster" continues to dominate, registering the top two E.T.'s in the Quarterfinals and earning 6 points from finishing positions. Russell Jackson "Big Russ" also earned 6 points, but slowed up a good ten seconds on his E.T.'s. Again, #8 Ranked McFly FPV got quicker in Run 1, registering a 1:07.41 E.T., which was the third fastest of Round 2. Heats 2 and 3 would see evenly matched competitions, resulting in ties between Thomas Wilke "Wilke FPV" and Farnam Farshneshnai "Freshness" and Olaf Hichwa "Viking FPV" and Angelo Re "Angelo FPV."
Semifinals, Round 3. Coming into the Semifinals, #8 Ranked McFly FPV had been running faster E.T.'s than Thomas Wilke "Wilke FPV" and Farnam Farshneshnai "Freshness," but they both had potential to run faster as higher qualified pilots. After a 3rd Place finish at 1:37.00 in Run 1, it would be tough for #8 Ranked McFly FPV to advance. Bill Schuette "Billster" was dominating Heat 1, like all previous rounds, with the fastest two E.T.'s in the Semifinals. Billster would finish 1st in both runs and take any chance away from #8 Ranked McFly FPV from making up the necessary points to advance. St. Mary's Internationals,unlike the past three races, would not be won by the highest ranked pilots. Thomas Wilke "Wilke FPV" would register his lowest E.T. of the race, 1:04.89, and two 2nd Place finishes to secure a position in the Final Round.
Heat 2 was a different story. Unlike Heat 1 being dominated by Billster, Heat 2 of the Semifinals would see a three way tie between Russel Jackson "Big Russ," Angelo Re "Angelo FPV," and Olof "Hichwa." #10 Ranked Noodle FPV, who had two solid E.T.'s at 1:16.09 and 1:15.10, would finish both runs in 4th Place. Big Russ finished in 1st Place in Run 1, with a 1:04.39, but finished in 3rd Place in Run 2, with a 1:11.78. Angelo FPV finished in 3rd Place in Run 1, with a 1:10.71, but finished in 1st Place in Rune 2, with a 1:02.71, which was the thirst quickest E.T. of the Semifinals. And, Viking FPV finished in 2nd Place in both runs, with a 1:05.68 and 1:04.14. Remember, all tie breakers are determined by qualifying position. That being said, Big Russ (#2 Qualified) and Angelo FPV (#4 Qualified) advanced to the Finals, while Viking FPV (#6 Qualified) was eliminated.
Finals, Round 4. Everyone knew that Bill Schuette "Billster" was the pilot to beat. As Top Qualifier, Billster had registered the lowest E.T. in every qualifying round and the lowest two E.T.'s in Elimination Rounds 1 through 3. He would still be the quickest in the Final Round; however, he would come up short.
Toward the end of lap 1 of Run 1, Billster crashed out, his first crash of race day. Russell Jackson "Big Russ" would go on to win Run 1, with a 1:04.10, which was the third quickest E.T. of the round. Thomas Wilke "Wilke FPV" would come in 2nd Place, with a 1:09.45, and Angelo Re "Angelo FPV" came in 3rd Place, with a 1:12.10.
There was only one mathematical scenario that would allow Billster to become Race Champion, but it wasn't in the cards for Race 7. Billster would win Run 2 and register the top E.T. for the Final Round, but Big Russ's 3rd Place finish was enough to secure his spot as Race Champion. Angelo FPV would register another solid 1:02.03, second fastest E.T. for the Finals, and a 2nd Place finish for Run 2. Unfortunately for Angelo FPV, Billster would break their 3 point tie to make him Runner-Up and put Angelo FPV in 3rd Place for the St. Mary's Internationals.
St. Mary's Internationals, Race 7 of the IDRA 2018 Challengers Cup, has shook up the Top 32 Pilot Rankings. It is the first race in the past 4 where the top ranked pilot did not become Race Champion and that did not validate the rankings.
Although Mackenna McClure "McFly FPV" (268 pts) moves back into the Top 5 at #4 Ranked, he has some challenges ahead. Like the 2017 Las Vegas Finals, McFly FPV hasn't been able to make it past the Semifinals this season. It is a major accomplishment that McFly FPV has made it to four back-to-back Semifinals, which is why he is #4 Ranked, but it won't be enough to protect him in the rankings for long and especially not in the 2018 Finals. He is also getting some pressure from pilots like #5 Ranked Del Sutton "Noodle FPV" (259 pts) who continues to climb the Top 32 Pilot Rankings. New pilots, like #7 Ranked Russel Jackson "Big Russ" (233 pts) and #8 Ranked Bill Schuette "Billster" (219 pts) are also a major threat, if they travel to more races.
#1 Ranked Dallas Kemp "Murica FPV"' (420 pts), #2 Ranked Moritz Werffeli "Lazy" (408 pts), and #3 Ranked Shaun Taylor "Nytfury" (393 pts) remain the clear front runners in the Top 32 Pilot Rankings.
She was #16 Ranked coming into the race and Jessika Farrar "Rotorgrrl" (194 pts) now moves into the Top 10 at #10 Ranked. #19 Ranked Angelo Re "Angelo FPV" (128) is nearly neck-and-neck with #20 Ranked Thomas Wilke "Wilke FPV." After competing in his second race in 2018, Chuy Wong "Chuy FPV" (118 pts) has enough points to make it into the Top 32 Pilot Rankings at #23 Ranked. Lastly, Olaf Hichwa "Viking FPV" (101 pts) is your new #29 Ranked pilot.
As we head into the international stretch of the 2018 Challengers Cup, most of the American pilots will start dropping out of the Top 32 Pilot Rankings. Pilots in the Top 10 & 20, who stop traveling to races, will start to fall to the back of the rankings. It will be exciting to see the rankings develop over the next two months. Even though we have the Manila Regionals next, on July 1, all eyes are on the Milano Internationals and Buenos Aires Regionals II on July 14-15. Both races will see familiar pilots, who are looking to earn more season points to move back into the Top 10 or just back into the Top 32. After Race 9, #2 Moritz Weffeli "Lazy' will retake the #1 Ranked position from #1 Ranked Dallas Kemp "Murica FPV." The top rank, which as been with the United States for the past 2 months, will return to Switzerland.
IDRA Memberships & Insurance
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!