Putrajaya: Most sports favour the young. More so in motorsports where the younger competitors have an advantage as the reflexes slow down with age.
However, the Red Bull Air Race, marketed as the fastest motorsport event, is an exception to that rule, considering that the starting age for an aerobatic pilot in this sport is usually 30 years.
Despite the rigours of competitive aerobatic flying — the pilots can experience anywhere up to 10 Gs during a race and even a slight error while flying at speeds close to 370 kmph could be fatal — it is the older competitors like 58-year-old Nigel Lamb, who are still up there among the best, as Lamb proved with his top-place finish at Putrajaya on Sunday.
Thrity-year-old Pete McLeod, who became the youngest pilot to race in the Red Bull Airrace back in 2009, believes age does play a massive factor in the sport. "When you're young, you lack the experience of competing at this stage.
However, as you grow old, your reaction time, which is so critical in this sport, gets slower. Also, with age it becomes much harder to maintain your physical fitness, which is key to this sport," says McLeod, who finished fourth at Putrajaya.
However, Lamb believes his age actually gives him an advantage. "Unlike other motorsports, there's a big emphasis on experience in this event. It takes a long time before you can just get into a plane and fly without thinking too much — it just takes time to be instinctive on the track," explains the Briton. "I have absolutely no problem with the Gs. I do aerobic sports, mostly racquetball," he adds.