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.
Australia’s race pilot, Matt Hall will not compete in New York
NEW YORK – Following the Red Bull Air Race investigation into Australian pilot Matt Hall’s aviation mishap in Windsor last week, the Race Committee have imposed sanctions resulting in Hall not being permitted to compete in New York.
As part of the standard aviation operating procedures, the Red Bull Air Race’s Technical Director, the Race Director and the Sporting Medical Director were required to investigate the June 5 incident in which Hall’s race plane splashed off the surface of the Detroit River. This incident followed a sequence of earlier events which were also taken into consideration including a wing stall in Perth and disqualification in Rio for dangerous flying.
Hall was not hurt in the incident in Windsor; however, his MXS-R race plane sustained minor damage to an aileron and landing gear wheel cover, when its wing and landing gear skimmed off the surface of the Detroit River during a Qualifying session run. Hall was disqualified from the Qualifying session.
Following the investigation, a recommendation was made to the Race Committee including sanctions as well as a formal proposal to ensure Hall’s safe return to the Championship.
The Race Committee has approved the recommendations including sanctions preventing him from competing in Championship round in New York. Hall will, however, be permitted to participate in a step down training program in New York as part of the process to return him to full competition status.
The former Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot, who was the most successful rookie in Red Bull Air Race history last year with third place overall, did not take part in the June 6 race in Windsor. Hall, 38, is currently in fifth place in the world championship with 22 points from four races.
Hat trick for Arch in Windsor, Chambliss on podium
WINDSOR, Ontario – Austria’s Hannes Arch won his third straight race in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship with a stirring performance in Windsor on Sunday, bouncing back with an emphatic victory in Canada just two days after suffering one of the worst pylon hits of his career. Britain’s Paul Bonhomme took a close second in the difficult track that straddles the Canada-U.S. border over the Detroit River, his 11th straight podium, while American Kirby Chambliss made the top 3 for the first time this year with third place. Canada’s Pete McLeod was a disappointing ninth in front of his home crowd.
Arch and Bonhomme were locked in another classic duel on a cool and overcast day in front of a huge crowd of 110,000 watching from Windsor and Detroit with about 160,000 spectators in attendance for the two days of high-speed, low-altitude racing. Arch, the 2008 World Champion, saved his best for last and shattered the track record with a time of 1:05:96 in the final.
Bonhomme, the reigning champion, put up a gallant effort to try to beat Arch. The British ace was leading by a fraction of a second after the first of four intervals through the 5-kilometre long race track but couldn’t maintain the lead and ended up behind Arch in 1:06:59, just 0.63 seconds off the pace. Chambliss, looking forward to more glory in his home race in New York in two weeks, was 3.03 seconds behind the Austrian in 1:08:99. Britain’s Nigel Lamb came fourth in 1:13:34 after hitting a pylon in the final.
“I’m really happy to win the race after this difficult week,” said Arch, who had a heavy pylon hit in training on Friday that damaged his plane and left him visibly shaken. “The team stayed behind me all the way. We tried to fix our problems. You need to have a strong team and we’ve got that. I just tried to stay calm and let the others make mistakes. I’m elated right now.”
Arch’s close call came just 24 hours before another dramatic turn of events for Australia’s Matt Hall.
The plane of the former Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot suffered an aerodynamic wing stall in a tight turn on the windswept track, causing it to dip towards the Detroit River. Hall’s wings and right wheel splashed off the top of the water but he was able to quickly regain control of the MXS-R and return safely to the Race Airport.
Bonhomme, who is still leading the championship with 41 points to Arch’s 39, said he was disappointed to lose to his great rival from Austria but added he was delighted to be in the thick of such a tense battle in Windsor. “I don’t know about you guys but I think that was a brilliant afternoon of racing,” said Bonhomme. “It was fantastic. Everyone raised their game. It was close for all of us. We’re sad we didn’t get the win but it was a great race. It’s going to be exciting right down to the end of the season.”
2006 World Champion Chambliss, now on 26 points overall, moved up a notch ahead of Hall to fourth place in the championship. The pilot from Arizona, who won the race on the same track in 2008 and also took third here last year, said he wanted to win the next race in his home country on 19 and 20 June. “If we could win the race in New York it would be awesome,” said Chambliss.
Arch declared winner after rain hits Rio Red Bull Air Race
RIO DE JANEIRO – Hannes Arch of Austria was declared the winner of the Red Bull Air Race in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday when adverse conditions made it impossible to continue the racing during the Top 12 round.
Arch, who had posted the fastest time in Qualifying, was awarded the victory in only the second race in Red Bull Air Race history that could not continue due to rain and wind. Nigel Lamb of Britain took second and Paul Bonhomme finished third.
“Due to adverse weather conditions the Race Committee has taken the decision not to continue with the Top 12,” organisers said in a statement. “The results will be taken from Qualifying. The world championship standings will be based on qualifying.”
Team Breitling Race Report
TEAM BREITLING picks up Second place in the Rio leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
The flights went ahead as scheduled for the Wild Card round, and partly through the Top 12 before the Air Race had to be stopped due to heavy rain and high winds. Because the TOP 12 was not completed in full, the official race results are taken from the previous day’s qualifying.
Nigel Comments “Of course a second place is great and contributes 10 points towards our overall Championship campaign, but it was a shame not to race today, it makes the result a little bit of an anti-climax”
The Breitling MXS-R will now be dismantled and air freighted directly to Windsor for the next round 5/6 June. Team Breitling will be pleased to get back to the UK after being stranded abroad due to the volcanic ash. After some well deserved rest, the plan is to come out in Windsor and prove that the Breitling Man and Machine combination is competitive enough to win!
Red Bull Air Race: Arch wins Red Bull Air Race in Perth, Hall comes second
Hannes Arch of Austria won the Red Bull Air Race on Sunday with Matt Hall of Australia getting a career-best second place in front of an enormous crowd of 140,000 watching from the banks of the Swan River in Perth, Australia. Championship leader Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain took third place.
Image - Red Bull
Bonhomme retains the overall championship lead with 22 points after the first two races of the 2010 season. Nigel Lamb of Britain, who was fourth on Sunday, is in second place on 18 points. Arch jumps into third place overall with 14 points and Hall moves up to fourth, also on 14 points.
It was a thrill-filled final under brilliant blue skies with Hall starting out the Final 4 by laying down a fabulous time of 1:26.51, his best of the week. It was all the more astonishing considering the huge expectations from the home crowd, the biggest at a sporting event in Australia this year.
Image - Red Bull
Lamb had been posting strong times all week but couldn’t top Hall’s time. Arch, starting third, moved into the lead with a time of 1:26.03. Bonhomme was flying well and poised to win the race but stumbled in the fourth and final sector to fall to third place with a time of 1:26.82.
Another success story in Perth was Pete McLeod, who took a strong fifth place. It was also a career-best for the Canadian ace who had struggled at the bottom of the pack in his rookie season last year with a comparatively slow plane. Nicolas Ivanoff of France, who won the Perth race in 2007, was sixth. Matthias Dolderer of Germany was seventh.
It was a disappointing race for Americans Kirby Chambliss and Michael Goulian. Chambliss, who clinched his 2006 world championship here in Perth, was back in eighth place and Goulian, who was fourth in the season-opener last month in Abu Dhabi, could do no better than 11th place when he sliced open a pylon in the Top 12 round.
Arch’s triumph in Perth helped erase memories of his disappointing 11th place in Abu Dhabi last month due to a disqualification in the Top 12. The 12 points Arch collected for the win in Perth, after a mere 2 in Abu Dhabi, puts the 2008 championship winner back into the title hunt. The Austrian was seen flashing a wide smile in his cockpit when the times were read out to the four finalists by the Race Director.
Image - Red Bull
“This is definitely the way we’re going forward,” said Arch. “Everything starts with vision and this was my vision. I was really struggling during the week. Should I attack or should I just slow down? I’m very pleased.”
“Fantastic result,” said a clearly delighted Matt Hall, whose best result was third place in Porto last year as a rookie. “I’ve been aiming for that for over a year. The Perth race was always going to be my focus. This is what I’ve been looking forward to since I started in the Red Bull Air Race – a great performance in front of my home crowd in Australia.”
Bonhomme, who has now been on the podium for nine straight races going back to the 2008 season, was clearly disappointed. “Third place wasn’t planned but we didn’t get fourth so that’s good,” said Bonhomme. “I’ve not really looked at the times so I don’t know what I did wrong. But it sounds like I relaxed a bit in the track.”
The next race takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 8/9 May.