Austria’s Hannes Arch is looking forward to Sunday’s Red Bull Air Race in Spielberg as an opportunity to catch overall leader Paul Bonhomme after Qualifying on Saturday was cancelled due to inclement weather. The outlook for Sunday’s race is brighter. Arch will be starting in a promising third position and counting on support from his home country.
SPIELBERG, Austria – Hannes Arch, a local hero from the nearby town of Trofaiach, is confident of his chances of winning his third Red Bull Air Race this season and putting the pressure on overall leader Paul Bonhomme of Britain after the Austrian ace posted some of the fastest times in training on Friday. Arch still holds the track record at the Red Bull Ring that he set a year ago and is counting on support from Austrian fans of his at the sixth of eight races this season in the world’s fastest motorsport series.
“My team is ready to roll. We’re in perfect position to attack for this race,” Arch said, adding the mountains and big crowd expected to support him this weekend will be a huge advantage. “I feel at home in the mountains. I know these mountains here like the back of my hand. This is where I belong.”
Bonhomme will be racing against 14th placed Francois Le Vot of France in their head-to-head opening round battle on Sunday while Arch, the 2008 world champion, will have a more difficult Round of 14 knock-out race in the Austrian Alps against Kirby Chambliss. The American ace is currently 12th in the standings but the 2006 overall winner is always dangerous. Australia’s Matt Hall, who is in second place, will face Juan Velarde of Spain in their head-to-head race with the winners advancing to the Round of 8 before those winners get berths in the Final Four later on Sunday.
Saturday’s Qualifying session was cancelled due to rain and low clouds at the race track set up in the infield area of the Red Bull Ring Formula One race track. But good racing weather is forecast for Sunday’s race, the sixth stop in the eight-race championship. Bonhomme leads the world’s fastest motorsport series with 46 points with Hall (38) and Arch (30) trailing close behind and eager to win 12 points for the victory on Sunday. Arch showed in training on Friday that he had the speed to beat Bonhomme on the spectacular track with the breathtaking Alpine backdrop.
Bonhomme posted the fastest times in both of Friday’s training sessions while Arch recorded the second-fastest time in the final training session on Friday. Spielberg, a tree-filled track set up on the infield of the Formula One race track, is considered by the pilots to be the most challenging on the circuit this year with its 61-meter altitude change on each of the two laps. Last year Arch won all three training sessions and Qualifying, recording a time of 55.545 seconds on the identical race track.
There will be other intriguing match-ups in the Round of 14 on Sunday. Martin Sonka (CZE) is in fourth place overall but will be up against red-hot Peter Besenyei (HUN), who got sixth in the last two races. Defending champion Nigel Lamb (GBR), in fifth place, will have a tough race against American Michael Goulian, who is eager to get on the podium ahead of the next two stops in the United States. Canada’s Pete McLeod, sixth, faces a difficult opponent in France’s Nicolas Ivanoff, who won the race here last year. And Germany’s Matthias Dolderer, seventh, will renew his battle against Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya in the first round.
In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world’s top pilots endure forces of up to 10G as they navigate as precisely as possible through a low-level slalom track marked by 25-metre high air-filled pylons.