The Red Bull Air Race World Championship returned from a three-year break with a spectacular three-way battle for the victory in the bright blue skies over Abu Dhabi with Britain’s Paul Bonhomme prevailing in front of 100,000 spectators.
ABU DHABI (UAE) – Britain’s Paul Bonhomme won the 2014 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season opener in Abu Dhabi on Saturday with a clutch performance in a pressure-packed finale ahead of his perennial rival Austria’s Hannes Arch in second and Canada’s Pete McLeod in third.
The defending champion had fallen behind both red-hot McLeod, who got a career-first podium, and his old nemesis Arch in the penultimate round of the high-speed, low-altitude racing over the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf but managed to fly nearly two seconds faster in the final round with the day’s best time – 56.439 seconds with Arch a blink of an eye behind in 56.776. It was a fittingly thrill-filled start to the 2014 season of the world’s fastest motorsport series.
“There was huge pressure out there and it was so much work to get back here,” said Bonhomme, who won the 2009 and 2010 championship ahead of Arch. But both were worried that rule changes, such as the introduction of standardized engines for all 12 pilots, would make the field more competitive and that is exactly what happened with McLeod, Matt Hall of Australia and Nigel Lamb of Britain, and Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic all flying within a second of each other in Friday’s Qualifying session.
Results: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), 2. Hannes Arch (AUT), 3. Pete McLeod (CAN), 4. Matt Hall (AUS), 5. Nigel Lamb (GBR), 6. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 7. Martin Sonka (CZE), 8. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 9. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 10. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 11. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 12. Michael Goulian (USA).
RED BULL AIR RACE: Qualifying and Challenger Cup Highlights
Canada’s Pete McLeod won a thrilling Qualifying session in Abu Dhabi on Friday ahead of the 2014 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season opener as the world’s fastest motorsport series returns to the skies after a three-year break.
ABU DHABI (UAE)– The opening round of what promises to be the most exciting Red Bull Air Race World Championship ever lived up to its billing in Qualifying on Friday when Pete McLeod of Canada edged out defending champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain by just fractions of a second to win pole position for Saturday’s season opener in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Britain’s Nigel Lamb was third while Austria’s Hannes Arch was fourth on the challenging track set up over the Arabian Gulf in front of Abu Dhabi’s glistening skyline.
McLeod, the youngest pilot in the sport’s history at 30, laid down a blistering time of 57.932 compared to 58.129 for Bonhomme after the Canadian ace adjusted for a dramatic shift in winds from the south in the morning to the north in the afternoon that made the course especially difficult for many of the 11 pilots who followed. Five pilots flying after McLeod clipped the tops of the 25-meter pylons, sending the tips of the pressurized Air Gates bursting up into the sky as crowds of excited spectators watched the high-speed, low-altitude racing action along Abi Dhabi’s Corniche Road and from the sandy beaches.
“It’s exciting to get first today,” said McLeod. “I felt really good in the track and was really focused. Paul was right there behind me and there were a bunch of other guys close behind too. Some of the other guys after me might have had some misfortune with the wind changing or first race qualifying round jitters.”
It was a nail-biting afternoon for Arch, who hit a pylon in his first Qualifying run and flew more conservatively in his second run, as well as for Bonhomme. Gone are the days when the two seasoned aces – who have won the last three championships – were well ahead of the pack, because the field has grown more competitive with all 12 pilots flying standardized engines and many of the younger pilots have worked hard to catch up.
Many of the pilots initially thought the course was going to be easy compared to the six previous races in Abu Dhabi, which has hosted the season-opener since 2005. But the capricious winds in Abu Dhabi on Friday and strict regulations this season made it a challenge to fly fast and clean through the track. Saturday’s race action starts at 1 p.m. In other airborne action on Friday, François Le Vot of France, Daniel Ryfa of Sweden and Juan Velarde of Spain finished in first, second and third place respectively in the Challenger Cup, an exciting new element of the Red Bull Air Race that’s growing the sport by giving promising pilots the chance to develop their skills.
Results Masters: 1. Pete McLeod (CAN), 2. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), 3. Nigel Lamb (GBR), 4. Hannes Arch (AUT), 5. Matt Hall (AUS), 6. Martin Sonka (CZE), 7. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 8. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 9. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 10. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 11. Michael Goulian (USA), 12. Peter Besenyei (HUN)
Results Challenger Cup: 1. Francois Le Vot (FRA), 2. Daniel Ryfa (SWE), 3. Juan Velarde (ESP), 4. Petr Kopfstein (CZE), 5. Tom Bennet (GBR), 6. Mikael Brageot (FRA)
RED BULL AIR RACE: Red Bull Air Race aces back in action in Abu Dhabi
After months of planning and preparation, the 2014 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season kicks off in Abu Dhabi, for a seventh time, with the 12 racing pilots in top condition and ready to fly in the eagerly awaited return of the planet’s fastest motorsport series next week.
ABU DHABI (United Arab Emirates) -- The Red Bull Air Race World Championship will be back in the skies on February 28 and March 1 with a triumphant return to Abu Dhabi for the seventh season opener over the sparkling waters of the Persian Gulf. Reigning champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain, who won the last race in Abu Dhabi in 2010, will be looking to get his title defense off to a flying start in the UAE’s capital city against 11 of the world’s most talented pilots in the high-speed, low-altitude racing action in front of tens of thousands of spectators expected to watch from the waterfront.
The Red Bull Air Race, returning after a three-year break, will be larger than ever in 2014 with eight stops in seven countries on three continents, including Croatia, Malaysia, Britain, Poland, the United States and China.
“We’re all extremely excited to relaunch the Red Bull Air Race and everyone from the pilots and their technicians to the entire organization have been working very hard for many months to ensure that we are all in top shape to conduct a safe, exciting and competitive race,” said Red Bull Air Race Race Director Jim DiMatteo. “Abu Dhabi is a perfect location to kick off the season with its typically good weather at this time of the year and its majestic backdrop.”
Bonhomme, 2008 champion Hannes Arch of Austria, America’s Kirby Chambliss, who won the 2006 world championship, and the other nine ace pilots from a total of 10 countries have been training for the racing for the last year and will be battling it out for valuable championship points in the scorching desert heat in the first of eight Red Bull Air Race World Championship rounds scheduled for 2014.
“The obvious goal is to win everything but right now no one knows how anyone will do,” Bonhomme said, noting the pilots will first need to see how the rule changes and standardized engines will affect performance. “I think we’ll do okay but we’ll have to see in Abu Dhabi,” he added. Bonhomme said it was impossible to make any forecast about his title defense yet. “It’s a new season and as far as I’m concerned we’re all starting afresh.”
Abu Dhabi, the fast-growing cosmopolitan city on the Persian Gulf, is familiar territory for the 12 experienced Red Bull Air Race pilots. It hosted the season opener between 2005 and 2010. Bonhomme won the race here in 2008 and 2010 while Hungary’s Peter Besenyei took first in 2005 and 2007. Chambliss won in Abu Dhabi in 2006 and Arch took first place honors in 2009.
In the Red Bull Air Race pilots race against the clock as they try to navigate their racing planes as fast as possible through a challenging low-altitude slalom course filled with Air Gate obstacles. The pilots reach speeds of up to 370 kilometers per hour and endure forces of up to 10Gs in the tight turns on courses.
The capricious winds of Abu Dhabi can make the race track -- which stretches out for some eight kilometers over the turquoise waters in front of the city’s Corniche Road – especially challenging. Winds can be blowing steadily in one direction before abruptly changing and blowing in the opposition direction just moments later. Temperatures in the arid region can rise well above 30 degrees C in late February.
The 2014 season promises to be more competitive than ever before because all 12 pilots will be flying with standardized engines and propellers for the first time to level the playing field and putting a premium on flying skills and less on engine power. The other pilots in the field include Nigel Lamb (GBR), Matt Hall (AUS), Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), Michael Goulian (USA), Matthias Dolderer (GER), Yoshi Muroya (JPN), Pete McLeod (CAN) and Martin Sonka (CZE). www.redbullairrace.com
Race Calendar: February 28/March 1 Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), April 12/13 Rovinj (Croatia), May 17/18 Putrajaya (Malaysia), July 26/27 Gdynia (Poland), August 16/17 Ascot (United Kingdom), September 6/7 Fort Worth (United States), October 11/12 Las Vegas (United States), November 1/2 China (People’s Republic of China)
RED BULL AIR RACE: Red Bull Air Race World Championship returns in 2014
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship will be back in the skies in February 2014 with a full seven-race World Championship staged in 6 countries on 3 continents. The return of the world’s fastest motorsport series was announced at a news conference at the Putrajaya Maritime Centre in Malaysia on Tuesday.
PUTRAJAYA (Malaysia), October 8th 2013. “We’re delighted to announce that the new Red Bull Air Race World Championship will be launched on February 28th in Abu Dhabi (UAE),” said Erich Wolf, CEO Red Bull Air Race GmbH. “We’ve all worked very hard over the last three years fine-tuning some of the safety aspects and bring the sport to a new level. We never took our eye off the target and neither have these fantastic pilots or the great fans around the world. Their interest in the sport remained unbelievably high during these past few years. We can’t wait to get back in the air in February 2014.”
The series will be back with the defending World Champion in the 12-pilot field after it took a three-year break to improve safety and reorganize. There will be a number of technical improvements, including standard engines and propellers for all pilots, changes to the lightweight nylon pylon material to make them even easier to burst apart if they are clipped by plane wings and raising the height of the pylons that the pilots pass through from 20 to 25 meters. The modus and rules have also been tightened, for example to prevent any pilots from exceeding the set limits. Another safety feature and also a sporting highlight is the new Challengers Cup competition that will be introduced in 2014. It will give new pilots who qualify for that stepping-stone competition valuable experience racing in the tracks on certain Red Bull Air Race stops. They will also participate in several training camps during the season.
“I am very pleased to see the Red Bull Air Race comes back as it is truly an event that gives worldwide exposure to air sports. The improvements made to the race format and race track by the Red Bull Air Race Management are convincing and will no doubt add extra attractiveness to the event,” said FAI President Dr. John Grubbström.
Reigning champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain, who won the last two world championships in 2009 and 2010, will be looking for an unprecedented third straight title in 2014. But he will be up against 2008 champion Hannes Arch of Austria and American Kirby Chambliss, who won the world title in 2004 and 2006. The other pilots in the field include Nigel Lamb (GBR), Matt Hall (AUS), Peter Besenyei (HUN), Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), Michael Goulian (USA), Matthias Dolderer (GER), Yoshi Muroya (JPN), Pete McLeod (CAN) and Martin Sonka (CZE).
“I’ve missed the flying at the Red Bull Air Race because the competitive racing is just fantastic,” said Peter Besenyei (HUN), one of the pilots who is with the Red Bull Air Race since its very first start. And Besenyei showed how much he missed racing during a stunning display flight on the fringe of the news conference.
In the sport created in 2003 and watched by millions of fans at 50 races until being suspended from 2011, the competitors race in high-performance airplanes between 15 and 25 meters above the ground and navigate a challenging obstacle course of Air Gate pylons at speeds of up to 370 kph.
THE RACE CALENDAR
1. Abu Dhabi, UAE 28 Feb. /1 March
2. Putrajaya, MAS 17/18 May
3. Gdynia, POL 26/27 July
4. Ascot, GBR 16/17 August
5. Dallas/Fort Worth, USA 6/7 September
6. Las Vegas, USA 11/12 October
7. CHINA 1/2 November
Red Bull Air Race Pilot Alejandro Maclean killed in accident in Spain
CASSARUBIOS, Spain – It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Red Bull Air Race pilot Alejandro (Alex) Maclean, who has died today at the age of 41 following a fatal accident in his native Spain while carrying out aerobatic training for an Air Show. Our thoughts are with his wife Emma and their two children aged 7 and 12.
The entire Red Bull Air Race community and the aerobatic fraternity have lost one of their most vibrant and passionate characters. Alex’s significant contribution to the growth and development of the Red Bull Air Race over the past six years and to aviation in general will be remembered forever by those who shared this journey with him.
The former captain of the Spanish national aerobatic team began his Red Bull Air Race career in 2003 and was a key figure in the evolution of the championship. A fiercely competitive streak led the Spaniard to accelerate the development of the MXS-R with fellow pilot Nigel Lamb and Alex kept his longstanding technician busy with an aggressive modification schedule.
Known at the Race Airport for his expressive Latino temperament, Alex was a deeply sensitive and emotionally charged character who fought against obvious frustration when results weren’t forthcoming. Despite this, he continued to push forward with his loyal team and finished the 2010 season on a philosophical note, taking personal responsibility for a disappointing result.
While he worked his race team hard and expected absolute commitment, Alex treated his technician Jesús Cañadilla, team coordinator Carola Bisci and coach Eneko Larumbe like family. He showed a deep respect for those who supported him and placed great value on building genuine friendships. Definitely not one to suffer fools gladly, the articulate and considered pilot often made journalists work hard for their quotes but his level of introspection and self-awareness added a fascinating dimension to any interview. His colourful character was a welcome contrast to many of the more reserved pilots.
Outside the Red Bull Air Race, Alex was a dedicated ambassador for flying and was recently named as the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Paul Tissandier Diploma for his contribution to sporting aviation. Fascinated by the idea of flight since childhood, he started flying ultralight aircraft before moving on to high performance aerobatic planes and was a celebrated competition pilot on the European stage before embarking upon the next chapter of his career with the Red Bull Air Race.
Bonhomme wins 2010 championship, Arch victorious in Germany
LAUSITZ, Germany – Britain’s Paul Bonhomme won the 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship by taking second place behind Austria’s Hannes Arch in the final race of the season at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany on Sunday. In another thrilling duel in front of a crowd of 65,000, Australia’s Matt Hall got the third podium of his career with third place in the 50th race in the sport’s history while Germany’s Matthias Dolderer finished seventh to the delight of the big home crowd.
Bonhomme, who also won the 2009 championship, finished the six-race season with 64 points and two victories — in Abu Dhabi in New York. Arch, the 2008 champion, ends the year with 60 points and four wins — in Perth, Rio, Windsor and Germany. Britain’s Nigel Lamb ended up third overall on 55 points.
Arch stopped the clock through the 15-gate track set up in the infield of the EuroSpeedway Lausitz race track in 1:12.30 while Bonhomme took second in 1:12.66 and Hall was in 1:17.41 — hurt by four seconds in penalties. Lamb was knocked out of the Final Four due to a flat tyre suffered just before take-off.
“It’s very special,” Bonhomme said, who let out a loud celebration cheer over his cockpit radio after he clinched the title. Bonhomme, the most successful pilot in the history of the sport with 13 career victories, admitted he was disappointed that he failed to beat Arch in the season finale even though he did get a record 13th straight podium with second place on a sunny afternoon in Germany.
“It feels good,” Bonhomme said. “The key thing is that we won back-to-back championships, that’s what I’m going to be taking away. I’ve been saying all year I’ve been relaxed and had stayed that way right up to this race. But I knew this race could make or break the whole championship. The day didn’t go exactly as I planned but I’m very pleased about the whole year.” Bonhomme is the first pilot to win back-to-back titles and joins American Mike Mangold as the only two-time champion in the eight-year race history.
Arch, who now has seven career wins, pushed Bonhomme to the limits all season and kept the pressure on his British rival to the final round. Bonhomme had posted faster times than Arch all weekend and had won the Qualifying point earlier on Sunday. But Arch pulled out all the stops in the Final Four, posting a blistering time that Bonhomme could not match.
“I knew I could win the race because the plane is fast and it’s a fast track,” Arch said, taking great satisfaction about winning four of the six races this year. “We might not have won the championship but we have four races and have lots of track records this year. We’re happy about that, it’s a good feeling. “
Bonhomme, Arch, Lamb, Hall and Dolderer told a news conference after the race they hoped the race would return to the EuroSpeedway in the future. “It’s a superb venue,” Bonhomme said. “We’re a motor racing sport and we worked beautifully together. I hope that when the air race season fires up again we have a lot more venues like this and that we indeed come back here again as well.”
Red Bull Air Race GmbH confirmed that for the future success and development of the sport, the World Championship will take a one-year break in 2011.
The organization will use this opportunity to fast track the technological advancements currently in the making which would further improve the already high levels of safety.
There is a need to revise the main organization and commercial areas to realize the full potential of the sport including the development and reinforcement of strong host city partnerships which would secure a long term race calendar.
Red Bull Air Race World Champion to be crowned in Germany following cancellation of this year’s Budapest race
The Red Bull Air Race in Budapest has been cancelled this year due to lengthy delays in the permissions process, the organization announced with regret today. Interrupting a six-year tradition of racing in the Hungarian capital, the Red Bull Air Race World Champion will now be crowned after the final race of the 2010 season at EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany on 7th & 8th August.
Budapest has been an annual fixture on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship calendar since 2004 with enormous crowds of more than 600,000 spectators watching the racing from the banks of the Danube River. This year’s race, which would have been the seventh annual race in Budapest, was set for 19th & 20th August.
Red Bull Air Race GmbH CEO Bernd Loidl expressed his disappointment over the Budapest cancellation, which comes just a week after a race cancellation in Portugal due to unexpected delays in reaching a revised host city agreement. But he said he hoped Budapest would be back on the calendar in 2011. Loidl also said the 2011 calendar will be announced after the final round in Germany next month – which will include a return to New York after the historic first race there in June.
“Having safely and successfully executed the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Budapest for the past six years, it was a tough decision to make,” Loidl said. “Following so close to the cancellation of the Portugal race last week, we are obviously disappointed and every effort will be made to see a return to Budapest in 2011. Securing the future of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship is paramount and making tough decisions is part of that process. We look forward to announcing the 2011 calendar after the final round in Germany including a much anticipated return to New York in the United States.”
The battle for the 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship will remain intense at Lausitzring in Germany, where defending champion Paul Bonhomme is holding a five-point lead over 2008 champion Hannes Arch of Austria. Arch has won three of the last five races and is confident he can overtake Bonhomme down the home stretch of the 2010 season to take his second title. Red Bull Air Race has been a FAI-recognised world championship since 2005.
NEW YORK – Paul Bonhomme of Britain won the first-ever Red Bull Air Race in New York on Sunday with a scintillating performance under pressure in front of the most spectacular setting in the eight-year history of the sport. Nigel Lamb took second place in a thrilling four-way battle between the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan while American Kirby Chambliss got his second straight podium with third place.
Bonhomme, the defending champion, prevailed in front of a huge crowd of 75,000 spectators watching from both sides of the Hudson River and a live U.S. television audience with one superb run after another through three pressure-packed rounds. Bonhomme had finished behind Arch for the last three races and was desperate to get back on top after the Team Abu Dhabi racer cut his lead in the championship to just one point. Arch pushed Bonhomme to his limits but saw his three-race winning streak shattered in dramatic fashion when he hit a pylon in the final 4 ending any hope of a podium finish.
Bonhomme stopped the clock at 1:10.01, the day’s fastest time on the 5.5-km track of 13 Air Gates set up on the majestic Hudson River between the Statue of Liberty and New York’s breathtaking skyline. Bonhomme had been the epitome of consistency with times of 1:10.09 in the Top 12 round and 1:10.07 in the Super 8 before lowering the mark again to 1:10.01 in the final. That was a full 2.05 seconds faster than Lamb and 2.08 faster than Chambliss. Arch was 5.34 back — hurt by the six-second penalty for hitting the pylon.
It was Bonhomme’s 12th straight podium — a record — and he now leads the championship with 53 points while Arch is second overall with 48 points. Team Breitling’s Nigel Lamb is third on 47 and Chambliss has 35.
“It’s very good — and what a setting,” Bonhomme said. “I can appreciate the view now that I’ve finished racing. Great day. I concentrated on me, my airplane and the track. And now I think we can celebrate a bit.” Lamb, who got his third second-place finish this year after getting the same result in Abu Dhabi and Rio de Janeiro, called it “a fantastic result”. Chambliss, the 2006 world champion, was delighted to be on the podium in his home race. “As an American, I’m very, very proud,” he said. “It’ll sink-in in a while. I have to personally thank Hannes for hitting that gate. Thank you Hannes!”
Arch was gracious in defeat on the biggest stage in the 49-race history of the Red Bull Air Race, a city where organizers have dreamed of staging a race since the world’s fastest growing motorsport was launched in 2003. It has been a FAI recognized world championship competition since 2005. Arch said he pulled out the stops to try to beat Bonhomme and get what would have been a record fourth straight victory and just barely hit the Air Gate, an inflatable pylon that he clipped with his wing.
“It was a good run,” said Arch, the 2008 champion. “It was just a couple of centimeters that made the difference. I would rather lose here like that in style, going for it, than completely screw it up. So I think those guys in front of me owe me a beer.”
The New York race was the fifth in the eight-race championship. It was a bit of a disappointment for the other American, Michael Goulian. The man from Massachusetts finished seventh. Pete McLeod of Canada, by contrast, had an excellent race and finished fifth to move up to fifth place in the championship with 29 points.