© 2015 Red Bull Media House GmbH - all rights reserved.

© 2015 Red Bull Media House GmbH – all rights reserved.

Nicolas Ivanoff of France beat Germany’s Matthias Dolderer and Britain’s Paul Bonhomme to win Saturday’s Qualifying session and clinch pole position the Red Bull Air Race World Championship battle in Chiba, Japan.

(CHIBA, Japan) 16th May, 2015 – Ivanoff mastered the high-speed, low-altitude racetrack set up just off Makuhari Beach and posted the fastest time of the day in 51.102 seconds after hitting speeds of 370 k/mh in front of the sold-out crowd of 60,000 spectators. Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya was only just 1.327 seconds behind Ivanoff but finished back in 9th place in the Qualifying session for Sunday’s race, the first ever in Eastern Asia for the world’s fastest motorsport series.

“It’s the first time for me to win Qualifying and that’s something special,” said Ivanoff, who won two races in 2014. “But the important thing would be to do that again tomorrow in the race. The track looks simple but it’s actually very hard to fly it. It’s very technical and more difficult than it looks. It’s amazing to see so many people watching down on the beach. It’s really nice to see such a crowd.”

Ivanoff prevailed in a tight battle on Saturday for the top spot in the 60th race since the sport was launched in 2003 against Dolderer who was forced to settle for second place with a time of 51.530 seconds and Bonhomme was in third (51.653 seconds) on the unusually fast out-and-back track. After posting the fastest time in training earlier on Saturday, Austria’s Hannes Arch fell back a disappointing 12th place after two penalty-marred runs and will face Bonhomme in the head-to-head Round of 14. The pilots were flying at top speeds on the long, straight track just some 15 meters above the surface while enduring G forces of up to 10g.

Muroya, who joined the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2009, is hoping to get on the podium in front of his big home crowd and pressed hard in the Qualifying session. Muroya, who was on the podium in Rovinj, Croatia last year, flew well in training earlier on Saturday in his brand new Edge 540 V3 airplane and would have posted the second fastest time behind Arch had he not been booked with a two-second penalty for incorrect flying level.

“I’m quite excited with the flying in front of my family and lots of fans,” said Muroya. “The flight was okay. But we’re still testing the new plane. We need to work on the plane in the track. We’re hoping to find the answers for tomorrow. We’ll do our best performance as a team. That’s our aim.”

Training before the second race of the eight-race 2015 World Championship was cut short due to a typhoon that hit the region earlier in the week.

Qualifying results: Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 51.102 seconds, 2. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 51.530, 3. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 51.653, 4. Matt Hall (AUS), 51.951, 5. Michael Goulian (USA) 52.014, 6. Martin Sonka (CZE) 52.024, 7, Kirby Chambliss (USA) 52.086, 8. Juan Velarde (ESP) 52.106, 9. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 52.429, 10. Pete McLeod (CAN) 52.614, 11. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 53.375, 12. Hannes Arch (AUT) 53.416, 13. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 55.183, 14. Francois Le Vot (FRA) DNS.