Sunny Perth in Western Australia will host the final showdown of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on the 1st and 2nd November where the 2008 title will be decided between Austria’s Hannes Arch and Britain’s Paul Bonhomme.
Over 300,000 people are expected to flock to the banks of Perth’s Swan River for the third year running to watch the eighth and final race of this year’s Championship. The Red Bull Air Race runway will be set up at Langley Park, which was used as Perth’s official airport back in the 1920’s. Its proximity to the Swan River will give the pilots a fantastic view of the race track from their hangars.
Australian Drew Searle, Aviation Expert at the Perth Red Bull Air Race believes that some subtle changes to last year’s track design should make for interesting and unpredictable results. “We’re splitting the quadro into two knife-edge gates and adjusting the positions of some of the Air Gates,” said Searle. “This should result in a track that’s much more about pilot judgement than just pure speed. I’m fully expecting the race to be very exciting in Perth. It’s going to be a very difficult, fast, twisting and turning track which will require a refined race line. At this time of year the weather is a big player and winds are certain to affect the track. Taking all this into account, I reckon once again there could be a very interesting set of faces on the podium.”
Last year it was France’s Nicolas Ivanoff who stunned everyone with his first ever win in Perth but it was Mangold who captured the glory coming from two points behind Bonhomme to snatch the Championship in the closest final in Red Bull Air Race history. Bonhomme seemed to be on track through the first half of this season to make up for last year’s disappointment, leading the 2008 World Championship by as many as six points at the half-way point, but he was overtaken by the consistent performance of Arch who moved ahead of Bonhomme at the last race in Porto.
Arch now has a strong 9-point lead with 54 points ahead of Bonhomme in second with 45 points and Chambliss in third with 44 points. Arch just needs one point in the final race in Perth to win the title. Bonhomme can still win the title if he comes first in Perth and Arch finishes with zero points. Arch has worked hard to stomp out speculation that it is in the bag: “For me the championship is absolutely not over yet. There’s still another race and I’ll approach it like the others. After Perth I’ll see where I am.”
The Red Bull Air Race takes place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd November, with Qualifying on Saturday and the Finals on Sunday.