Mélanie shares her objectives for the off-season
On 15 October, Red Bull Air Race pilot Mélanie Astles concluded the 2017 Challenger Cup season by becoming the first woman ever to win a major motorsport race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now, the French standout has a busy off-season planned, including training for races, and to pilot commercial airline jets. Find out more, and join the adventure…
Mélanie, going back to the 2017 season you’d been working toward your first win, and you got it. What’s your objective now?
There are many! One primary objective now is consistency. With 3 three podiums, including a win this year, the aim for the next season will a podium finish every time or at least to be a close to is as possible. It of course would be my dream to be on the podium very often, but the level of all the pilots is clearly going to increase next year. So my goal would be to consistently fly the track with a good entry speed, with clean runs, with great style – dancing through the track, being smooth, relaxed, precise and assertive.
Also, while I’ve had some help already, I would like to be coached more by someone who could advise me on the trajectories. Perhaps it could be someone who helps me to debrief my flights. In any case, I would really like to have some feedback about my flights and someone who could check over my data. I’d just like to know what trajectories to follow, in order to have my mind a bit more relaxed on the flight.
Speaking of being relaxed, your mindset is something you focussed on throughout the season. Was anything different at Indy?
I think the race in Indianapolis was fantastic, because due to the weather I won based on Qualifying – when I didn’t know I was racing. I’ve been developing some new techniques of breathing and a few secret techniques for relaxing, and that’s what really made me smile during the Quali, like I was singing through the track. That’s given me the feeling and the knowledge about exactly what to do, how great it is to be so light and relaxed. So this is the next aim: to really learn relaxation and be able to race without realizing it’s a race. I mean, my subconscious should not know it’s a race, because I think when the stakes are too high, then that builds up fear – your fear of loss. And that’s not good. So I’m going to try and just relax a bit, enjoy the ride and get the smile on in the track. That would be cool.
You shared details on your physical training throughout the season, but since we’re discussing objectives, do you have any goals in that regard during the off season?
My objective will be to become even more fit, and I am working on that with my coach Romain Guillot. We’ve been working together for about six months, and it’s just the start. Now we are going to consolidate everything we’ve done so far as the basis for the future. For the moment I’m working a lot on having more core strength and also working on flexibility in the body. It’s about just basically feeling good and – here’s that word again – relaxed when I fly, and being able to feel fit throughout the race week. Sometimes the flying is very short, but of course the aim is to be perfect for the one-minute flight in the track.
Before Indianapolis, you also shared the news that you were going to start training with Air France over the winter. How is that going?
I really do have many objectives! I joined Air France this month and it is a huge challenge because I have a lot of things to learn. I’m just going to put the racing to the side for a few months and thankfully, the Air France Type Qualification course is during the winter so it will be perfect for the Red Bull Air Race schedule next year.
Flying for a commercial airline was one of your childhood dreams, wasn’t it? You must be so excited.
I’m very, very happy to be able to realize this dream. It’s a new, fantastic, beautiful adventure. The learning curve is huge but my instructors are really great at transferring knowledge because they have been doing this for years and know so much about airlines, about planes. I am really enjoying learning a different way of flying. I’m 35 years old. It’s the beginning of a new life, and as we have seen with pilots like Paul Bonhomme, Juan Velarde, Luke Czepiela and Florian Bergér, flying for a commercial airline is perfectly compatible with a career in the Red Bull Air Race.
I’m so proud to be able to represent Air France around the world, and I’m sure Air France will be really happy to push me and help me. It’s going to be a fantastic thing to share with each other.
That’s a pretty exciting list of objectives you’ve got lined up. Is there anything else you want to add?
No, but I do want to say a special thank you to all my sponsors, and also to all my team and the people working behind the scenes toward my progress and achievements. What we’ve accomplished so far is not only my success, it’s the success of everyone on the team, and we are so happy. I hope we’ll all be able to get together and celebrate, but in the meantime, thanks to everybody, including all the fans and supporters out there as well. I am absolutely sure we will do 10 times better next year, and we’ll have even more new projects in store, many of which I can’t share quite yet. So stay tuned, and we’ll talk to you about these new projects very soon – sometime during the winter.
Very exciting, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Yes you will, and there will be lots to talk about. In the meantime, thanks, everybody! Bye-bye and I’ll fill you in soon!
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