Britain’s Paul Bonhomme scored a stylish victory in the final race of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Perth on Sunday in front of a crowd of more than 200,000 spectators while Hannes Arch was crowned 2008 World Champion after finishing third. It was the 7th podium in 8 races this year for the remarkably consistent ace from Austria. Bonhomme collected his 4th victory trophy of the season with a triumph over compatriot Nigel Lamb on a sunny afternoon in Western Australia to take second place overall for the second consecutive year.
“I was very pleased to win here in Perth,” said Bonhomme, who had dominated the first half of the season before Arch took control in the second half. “I got to Perth early this year to get acclimatised and that paid off. The airplane is not really going that well but at least I have been flying it well here.”
Arch became the first European to win the World Championship after Americans Mike Mangold (2005, 2007) and Kirby Chambliss (2006) won the title for the world’s most exciting high-speed, low-altitude precision-flying competition.
An extreme sports adventurer, Arch said his unusual background in sports, a superb plane, a strong ground crew and tireless efforts to improve helped him shake up the race hierarchy in only his second season. He rose from 10th in his rookie season to first this year. Most of his rivals in the 12-pilot field have backgrounds in military or commercial aviation.
“Paul deserved the win today and I’m thrilled to win the overall Championship,” said Arch, 41, who appeared close to tears on the podium when the Austrian national anthem was played. “Over the whole season I had a very fast plane. The secret was to be consistent. I had the advantage of being behind Paul most of the season so the pressure was on him, not me. Today I felt the pressure and hit a pylon.”