Fifteen of the world’s top race pilots, including four rookies from four corners of the globe, will compete in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2009, which will touch down in six spectacular locations beginning with the traditional season opener in Abu Dhabi on 17 and 18 April.

The world’s most exciting motorsport will then move to North America for races in San Diego, USA and Windsor in Ontario, Canada, before returning back across the Atlantic to Europe for stops in Budapest, Porto and Barcelona, marking a much-anticipated return to the enchanting Spanish city on the Mediterranean.

In 2006 one million spectators packed the beachfront of the Catalonian capital to witness this breathtaking sport and Barcelona will host the final race of the season where the 2009 World Champion will be crowned.

“We’re really excited to be returning to Barcelona after such a successful race there three years ago with an absolutely fantastic crowd,” said Bernd Loidl, CEO of Red Bull Air Race. “The Red Bull Air Race has advanced considerably since then and thanks to some of the changes we’ve introduced, this season will be the most exciting yet. We’re also delighted to have our first Canadian race in the province of Ontario and to welcome four new pilots on board.”

Flying at speeds reaching 370 km/hr (230 mph) and pulling up to 12 gs, the pilots will navigate unique and demanding race tracks, negotiating their way through 20 metre high inflatable air gates in their bid to become the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Champion. Austrian Hannes Arch, who became the first European to win the championship last year, will be seeking to defend his title against a talented crop of pilots who have all been busy honing their skills in the off-season and working on improvements to their planes.

They will all be up against four new pilots from four continents who join the elite field this year. At age 25, Canada’s Pete McLeod will be the youngest ever pilot in the high-speed, precision flying race and he will be joined by three other rookies – Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya, Australia’s Matt Hall and Germany’s Matthias Dolderer.

The expanded field of fifteen pilots has led to the creation of a slick new race format that includes a ‘wild card’ session to open race day. The day will provide constant race action and four pilots going up against each other in an all-out final for victory and spots on the podium.

With the dazzling race format, ambitious new talent to shake up the hierarchy and the top veteran pilots from 2008 returning to battle it out for dominance, 2009 promises to be another year of thrills, upsets and nail-biting tension.

* 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship – RACE CALENDAR

Abu Dhabi (UAE ) 17/18 April

San Diego (USA ) 9/10 May

Windsor, Ontario (Canada) 13/14 June

Budapest (Hungary) 19/20 August

Porto (Portugal) 12/13 September

Barcelona (Spain) 3/4 October

2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship – PILOTS

Hannes Arch (AUT) (2008 World Champion)

Paul Bonhomme (GBR) (2nd in 2008)

Kirby Chambliss (USA) (3rd in 2008)

Mike Mangold (USA)

Peter Besenyei (HUN)

Nigel Lamb (GBR)

Alejandro Maclean (ESP)

Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA)

Michael Goulian (USA)

Sergey Rakhmanin (RUS)

Glen Dell (RSA)

Matthias Dolderer (GER)

Matt Hall (AUS)

Pete McLeod (CAN)

Yoshihide Muroya (JPN)

*subject to change