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The Flying Matador Speaks About a Tough 2009

LONDON - AUGUST 02: Spanish aerobatics pilot Alejandro Maclean poses during the Red Bull Air Race on August 2, 2008 in London. The race takes place in 9 cities in the world in 2008 with pilots navigating a low level aerial race track. (Photo by Mark Wieland/Getty Images)
Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IOctober 10, 2009

Arguably one of the most charismatic pilots in the paddock, Alejandro (or simply Alex) Maclean is a seasoned Red Bull Air Race pilot with an experienced team. Sometimes though, just having these two cards on hand is not good enough for winning in the top-flight of aerial motorsports.

Maclean—whose name comes from his Scottish grandfather—has had a very tough 2009 starting with a sponsorship deal that didn't go through with Research In Motion and their Blackberry branch.

To add insult to injury, the Spaniard was always receiving the short end of the stick when it came to his time in the track. This would result in pylon hits, penalty points and other small things that pushed him down the rankings with a seventh place in Porto being his best result of the year.

Had he not pulled an over-G, and Maclean might have been a little higher in the rankings for that race and not classified as DSQ for the Super Eight round.

"Obviously my worst season ever and paradoxically the one that I have spend more time, money and effort in improving both the whole team and the results," says Maclean in an e-mail. "It...has been a really frustrating season but on the other side I have learned a lot" he goes on pragmatically.

Many areas could be blamed for his lack of results in 2009. One of the issues that Maclean has alluded to is the power plant of his MXS. Being one of only five of the 15 pilots in 2009 to have the newest race-specific aircraft in his hangar, and the second one after Nigel Lamb in 2008 to take delivery of it, Maclean was in an unenviable position.

"I can really blame my 2009 results mostly to the engine which is a 2007/8 engine and up to a smaller degree the plane handling" says Maclean and when asked about why he didn't upgrade, "I just could not afford a new engine like other teams with maybe better finances or help.

"I strongly believe on the MX performance and reliability and that much more than the EDGE 540 which in fact is proving or has proved not to be as reliable, however next year there will be a new EDGE 540 and this could mean that we will need to update our MX quite a lot."

Going into the offseason and looking ahead, Maclean tells Bleacher Report "next season we will have a new plane...and we will try our best to have it ready, be ready and get some help from sponsors, since...spending more will lead into a better result..."

The final thoughts after this interview is that for the No. 36 team, it appears like the offseason is going to be another challenge as the team regroups to get themselves in shape for 2010—both technically and financially—and be at least one step over the competition.

The off-season is going to be very interesting to see how Maclean and the others improve...

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