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RED BULL AIR RACE: Brits storm to double victory at Ascot

ASCOT (United Kingdom) Britain’s Paul Bonhomme and Nigel Lamb won first and second place at the Red Bull Air Race at Ascot Racecourse on Sunday, sending a sell-out home crowd of 29,000 spectators into a frenzy with thrilling performances in challenging windy conditions.

It was the 15th career victory for Bonhomme in his 55th race and also second win of the season worth 12 championship points that helped him cut the world championship lead of Hannes Arch from 13 to just two points. There are three races left in the eight-stop season. The Austrian finished a distant eighth on Sunday.

Bonhomme, who also wears race number 55, now has 41 world championship points to Arch’s 43. He won the Ascot race with its first-ever standing start with a flawless performance despite difficult and changing English winds that gusted up to 30 knots and caused many pilots problems. The spectators in the capacity crowd were on their feet watching the spine-tingling action from the grandstand and grassy terraces and they roared their approval when Bonhomme stopped the clock in the Final Four with a sensational time of 1:11.579. Lamb, celebrating his 58th birthday, was a close second and got his third straight podium with a sterling time of 1:11.750, which was good enough for 10 points that also put him into the thick of the championship battle with 35 points overall.

“I think this has to be the greatest escape yet – it’s a great win,” said Bonhomme, who had a dismal performance in Qualifying on Saturday and was nearly eliminated in the first round of 12 on Sunday when he was beaten by Germany’s Matthias Dolderer, who finished fourth overall on Sunday. “The British crowd love aviation and I couldn’t have wished for a better result.”

Results: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), Nigel Lamb (GBR), 3. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 4. Mathias Dolderer (GER), 5. Matt Hall (AUS), 6. Yoshihide Muroya, (JAP), 7. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 8. Hannes Arch (AUT), 9. Martin Sonka (CZE), 10. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 11. Pete McLeod (CAN), 12. Michael Goulian (USA).

World Championship: 1. Arch 43, 2. Bonhomme 41, 3. Lamb 35, 4. Hall 25, 5. McLeod 18, 6. Ivanoff 15, 7. Muroya 10, 8. Dolderer 9, 9. Sonka 8, 10. Besenyei, 6, 11. Chambliss 5, 12. Goulian 0.

RED BULL AIR RACE: Canada’s McLeod upsets Austria’s Arch, Brits in Qualifying

Ascot opening day was full of surprises with Canada’s Pete McLeod winning Qualifying while championship leader Hannes Arch of Austria had an off day, finishing fifth. Britain’s Nigel Lamb was third and Paul Bonhomme seventh.

ASCOT, England – Canada’s Pete McLeod put in a brilliant performance on Saturday to win Qualifying for the Red Bull Air Race on Sunday at the Ascot Racecourse, upsetting championship leader Hannes Arch of Austria as well as British pilots Nigel Lamb and Paul Bonhomme in front of an appreciative crowd of 22,000.

Paul Bonhomme, UK pilots and reigning Air Race World Champion said: “I think the wind changed the game hugely today. In training yesterday we had virtually no wind and suddenly we’ve got a monster wind from the west today. Down here in the Ascot bowl it feels quite calm but if you go up there and you suddenly got a 25-knot wind. Picking the right line is quite difficult. We’re happy with the flying. We had two little engine setting issues, that’s a factor. We were very happy with our training time earlier.

He added: “People keep asking me about the home crowd pressure, but I’m not feeling flustered. The pressure is from all the other guys going quickly. Everyone seems to have a quick run here and then a duffer. It’s going to be a completely new day tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”

McLeod mastered the challenging course set up above the historic horse race track west of London on a bright but blustery day and posted a winning time of 1:10.698. France’s Nicolas Ivanoff was second on 1:11.585 while Lamb took third in 1:11.842. Arch, who has won two of the first four races this season, was in fifth while the woes of reigning world champion Bonhomme continued as he finished a distant and disappointing seventh.

Pete McLeod, today’s winner said: “I had a great time and I’m really happy with my position. I’m definitely satisfied with my performance today. I had a lot of confidence and executed my strategy. I think my first run set me up nicely for my second Qualifying run. I just took some more risks on the second run, turned in a little earlier on the gates but I wanted to fly penalty free and even though I risked a bit more in the second run it worked. I know I need to work on avoiding getting a penalty for exceeding the 10g limit.

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘dominate’ here after Qualifying because Hannes has the ability to run this track even a little big faster. He was having a good run in Quali 2 but he just got a little rattled or something. It doesn’t get any better on Qualifying Day than to take first placed. I’m definitely satisfied. It’s been a good progression for me on this track, from training to Qualifying.”

The 12 pilots in the world’s fastest motorsport series delighted the big Qualifying Day crowd, fashionably dressed as they watched from the grandstands and grass terraces, as they roared past from the first standing start in the sport’s history. The cheers were loudest for Britain’s Bonhomme, who is second in the championship behind Arch, and Lamb, who is third overall. Both put in solid runs on the undulating course filled with trees, shrubbery, ponds and other obstacles.

RED BULL AIR RACE: New standing start makes pilots nervous ahead of Ascot race

The Red Bull Air Race pilots will face two new challenges at the Ascot race on Sunday – a first-ever standing start on the race track’s infield and flying over land, instead of a water course, for the first time this year.

ASCOT, England – A first-ever standing start that is causing some of the Red Bull Air Race pilots sleepless nights could shake up the sport’s hierarchy and the static start will be one of the highlights of the race at the Ascot Racecourse on Sunday. But some of the 12 pilots are also on edge about the first land course of the season, after the first four races were staged over water courses, because Ascot is filled with obstacles – such as trees, shrubbery and undulating countryside.

The static start on the Ascot Racecourse infield will, quite literally, level the playing field with all 12 pilots trying to accelerate from zero towards a maximum speed of 370 km/h while bumping along on the grass runway instead of the usual flying start where they dive into the race track at precisely the maximum speed of 370 km/h. Several of the favorites sound concerned that the standing start could give the pilots in the back-of-the-pack an advantage on Sunday while others said they were worried they would be robbed of the usual opportunity to adjust their RPM dials while flying in a holding pattern before entering the race track.

“Clearly the weight of our plane is going to be more important with a static start like this because if you’re heavier, like us, you’ve got to accelerate more mass down the runway,” said Britain’s Paul Bonhomme, who is second overall in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship with 29 points behind Hannes Arch of Austria, who has 41 points. Bonhomme has shed about 2 kg since the last race in Poland but his plane/pilot total weight package is still about 4 kg above the 698-kg minimum weight that many of the other plane/pilots tip the scales at.

In third place overall with 26 points is Britain’s Nigel Lamb, who said he was looking forward to the new challenges of the static start and a track on land. He said there are advantages to flying over land because there are so many points of reference that can be used to analyse and compare the performances of the pilots and study that information overnight to fly even faster the next time out.

“I like the fact that it’s not a flat track, you have some texture to it so you’re flying up and down a little bit. It’s more exciting. You’ve got trees, water and all sorts of things flashing past the cockpit. The sensation of speed is just fantastic.”

One pilot who might benefit from the standing start is Canada’s Pete McLeod. He was unceremoniously knocked out of the race in Malaysia for exceeding the 370-km/h starting speed by about 1 km and is at least relieved that won’t happen in Ascot, where pilots might only be flying at about 250 km/h when they pass through the first Air Gate.

“We’ll find out whose planes accelerate the most from a static start,” said McLeod. “My Edge 540 V3 has generally been pretty good accelerating. Engine set-up is going to be an issue. Normally we have the time to do that in the holding box before coming into the track. Getting your engine set up properly to get full power on the ground is going to be a big challenge here.”

RED BULL AIR RACE: Arch wins in Gdynia, widens championship lead

GDYNIA (Poland) – Austria’s Hannes Arch widened his lead at the top of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship to 13 points with a brilliant victory in front of 130,000 spectators in Gdynia on Sunday, picking up his third straight win in Europe with some smart flying on the challenging track set up on the Baltic Sea. Britain’s Nigel Lamb was second while Matt Hall of Australia got his second straight third place as the two pilots flying the MXS-R planes once again put in stellar performances in the world’s fastest motorsport series to the delight of the crowd watching from the nearby beaches at the first-ever race in Poland.

Arch, who won the 2008 championship, now has 42 championship points at the midway point of the eight-race season. Britain’s Paul Bonhomme, the defending champion, was knocked out in the Super 8 round after getting a rare penalty and had to settle for his second straight fifth place, slipping further behind Arch on 29 points. Arch had lagged behind Bonhomme and Lamb in Qualifying but found a new line to fly the difficult 270-degree “Marine Wall” turn faster than anyone else. Arch stopped the clock in 1:09.895, Lamb was second in 1:11.306, while Hall was third in 1:11.538.

“I prefer to be the hunter than the hunted,” said Arch, who had struggled in training and Qualifying. “Being the hunter suits my style better. But I guess I’m going to have to get used to being the one that everyone else is hunting now.” Winning in Gdynia gave Arch his second victory in 2014 after he was first in Rovinj, Croatia and third straight win in Europe going back to 2010, when he was the Lausitz race in Germany. Arch was also second in Abu Dhabi to Bonhomme and second to Lamb in Putrajaya, Malaysia in the last race.

Bonhomme was bitterly disappointed about being hit with a two-second penalty for flying too high through one of the 25-meter high Air Gates, a controversial ruling that dimmed his hopes of winning a third straight championship ahead of the next stop at home in Ascot, Great Britain in August.

“From where I was sitting it looked alright to me,” Bonhomme said, adding it was “bleeding obvious” that the fifth place in Gdynia would damage his championship hopes. “If it was a ‘benefit of a doubt’ judgement call, then I’ll be pretty upset.”

Results: 1. Hannes Arch (AUT), 2. Nigel Lamb (GBR), 3. Matt Hall (AUS), 4. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 5. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), 6. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 7. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 8. Pete McLeod (CAN), 9. Michael Goulian (USA), 10. Martin Sonka (CZE), 11. Mathias Dolderer (GER), 12. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN);

World Championship: 1. Arch 42 points, 2. Bonhomme 29, 3. Lamb 26, 4. Hall 21, 5. McLeod 18, 6. Ivanoff 8, 7. Sonka 8, 8. Muroya 7, 9. Chambliss 5, 10. Dolderer 4, 11. Besenyei 4, 12 Goulian 0

RED BULL AIR RACE: Lamb wins Asian scorcher in tropical Malaysia

Britain’s Nigel Lamb upset Austria’s Hannes Arch in an action-packed Red Bull Air Race World Championship battle in the sweltering tropical heat of Putrajaya, getting an emotional first career victory. Australia’s Matt Hall took third in the first-ever east Asia race in the world’s fastest motorsport series.

PUTRAJAYA (Malaysia) – Arch nevertheless moved into the overall lead with 30 points after the third round of the eight-race world championship that has stops in seven countries on three continents. Bonhomme, who saw his string of 15 straight podiums abruptly ended, is second overall with 25 points, while Lamb moved into third on 17 points.

Lamb, who remains hugely popular in Malaysia after touring in the tropical nation as a display pilot for five years earlier in his career, gave his local fans watching from the shores of Putrajaya Lake a clinical demonstration of superb flying under the humid skies. Undeterred by the temperatures that soared into the high 30s, Lamb kept his cool flying first in the Final Four on the high-speed, low-altitude track and stopped the clock in 1:15.023 – the fastest run of the day. Hall came close with 1:15.691 and Arch came even closer at 1:15.597.

“I never thought I’d feel this emotion,” said Lamb, fighting off tears after getting six second-place finishes before in 43 previous races in his seven-year career. “It’s a great feeling. After seven years, and all the ups and downs, this is the payoff.”

Canada’s Pete McLeod, the last pilot in the Final Four, finished the day in frustration: in pushing for every fraction of a second, he exceeded the maximum speed entry of 370 kph / 200 knots through the Start Gate, resulting in his flying session classed as Did Not Finish (DNF).

Results: 1. Nigel Lamb (GBR), 2. Hannes Arch (AUT), 3. Matt Hall (AUS), 4. Pete McLeod (CAN), 5. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), 6. Martin Sonka (CZE), 7. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 8. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 9. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 10. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 11. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 12. Michael Goulian (USA)

World Championship Standings: 1. Arch (30 points), 2. Bonhomme (25), 3. Lamb (17), 4. McLeod (17), 5. Hall (14), 6. Sonka (8), 7, Muroya (7), 8. Ivanoff (5), 9. Dolderer (4), 10. Besenyei (2)

RED BULL AIR RACE: Duel continues: Arch beats Bonhomme in Rovinj

Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, Hannes Arch of Austria rallied from behind to upset Red Bull Air Race World Championship leader Paul Bonhomme of Britain.

ROVINJ (Croatia) – Austria’s Hannes Arch came from behind to beat defending champion Paul Bonhomme in a riveting final in the second stop of the eight-leg Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Sunday in Rovinj, Croatia. Arch was trailing Bonhomme at the midway point of the final round by 0.23 seconds but opened the throttle with a blistering second lap on the obstacle course set up on the Adriatic Sea to get his eighth career victory. Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya got the first podium of his career, taking third place on a challenging course in the bay off Rovinj that was made even more difficult when the winds coming from the south shifted to from the west.

Cheered on by thousands of fans from nearby Austria, Arch also became the sentimental favorite of the local Croatian fans, who were savoring the country’s first Red Bull Air Race. The Austrian had a flawless run in the final, stopping the clock in 59.012 seconds — ahead of Bonhomme’s 59.097. They have 21 points each in the World Championship standings.

“It’s really special,” said Arch, who felt lifted by a surge of support this weekend from the big crowd in Rovinj, a stunning town on a peninsula known as the blue pearl of the Adriatic. “When I heard I was first I had tears in my eyes because of all the emotions and the release of the pressure. It was so difficult here.”

There was a record six pylon hits on the challenging course set up in the water just off the shoreline of Rovinj – including one in the Super 8 round that ended the day of Matt Hall of Australia, who finished a disappointing seventh. Canada’s Pete McLeod was fourth after a costly penalty in the finals. Britain`s Nigel Lamb got knocked out when his running propeller touched the ground and got damaged at the Race Airport.

Results: 1. Hannes Arch (AUT), 2. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), 3. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 4. Pete McLeod (CAN), 5. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 6. Martin Sonka (CZE), 7. Matt Hall (AUS), 8. Nigel Lamb (GBR), 9. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 10. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 11. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 12. Michael Goulian (USA)

World Championship Standings: 1. Arch (AUT) 21 points, 2. Bonhomme (GBR) 21, 3. McLeod (CAN) 12, 4. Muroya (JPN) 7, 5. Hall (AUS) 7, 6. Ivanoff (FRA) 5, 7. Sonka (CZE) 5, 8. Lamb (GBR) 5, 9. Dolderer (GER) 5, 10. Chambliss (USA) 0

RED BULL AIR RACE: Arch beats Bonhomme in Qualifying duel in Rovinj

Austria’s Hannes Arch pulls out all the stops to post the fastest time in Qualifying for Sunday’s Red Bull Air Race in Rovinj, Croatia.

ROVINJ (Croatia) – Hannes Arch of Austria won pole position for the second stop of the 2014 Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the Croatian city of Rovinj after he out-dueled Britain’s Paul Bonhomme in a spine-tingling Qualifying battle on Saturday along the shoreline of the Adriatic Sea. On a challenging course, Canada’s Pete McLeod took third on an afternoon filled with spectacular pylon hits while Germany’s Matthias Dolderer continued his strong flying run on the track in the northern Croatian venue with fourth place.

Cheered on by a crowd filled with flag-waving fans from nearby Austria, Arch opened the throttle and went all out in his Qualifying run to post the fastest time of the day, 57.72 seconds. Championship leader Bonhomme was just a split second behind in 57.87 seconds as Arch, the 2008 world champion, and Bonhomme, who won the 2009 and 2010 titles, kept their ferocious battle going strong after Bonhomme just barely beat Arch in the season opener in Abu Dhabi last month.

Bonhomme posted the fastest time in the final training session earlier on Saturday and had the final run through the pylon-filled obstacle course on a chilly and cloudy afternoon in Rovinj, known as the blue pearl of the Adriatic. Arch’s narrow win sparked loud cheers from the contingent of Austrian fans crowding the grandstands. Arch was also supported by Austrian sports legends Thomas Muster, a former world number one in tennis, sailing double Olympic gold medalist Hans Peter Steinacher and ski jumping champion Thomas Morgenstern.

In related racing action also taking place, Frenchman François Le Vot and Great Britain’s Thomas Bennett finished in first and second place respectively in the hotly contested Challenger Cup, with Le Vot covering the course in a solid time of 1:01.19 despite unpredictable winds and Bennett logging 1:02.53. Making the most of his first-ever appearance in the Challenger Cup, which gives the next generation of promising pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills under racing conditions, was Peter Podlunšek of nearby Slovenia, who finished in third place with a time of 1:02.76.

Results Qualifying: 1. Hannes Arch (AUT) 57.72, 2. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 57.87, 3. Pete McLeod (CAN) 58.15, 4. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 58.51, 5. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 58.64, 6. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 58.68, 7. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 59.82, 8. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 1:00.21, 9. Matt Hall (AUS) 1:00.56, 10, Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 1:00.63. 11. Michael Goulian (USA) 1:01.40, 12. Martin Sonka (CZE) DNF.

Results Challenger Cup: 1. Francois Le Vot (FRA) 1:01:19, 2. Tom Bennett (GBR) 1:02:53, 3. Peter Podlunsek (SLO) 1:02:76, 4. Mikael Brageot (FRA) 1:03:19, 5. Luke Czepiela (POL) 1:03:27

RED BULL AIR RACE: Flying legend Besenyei crosses Corinth Canal

Peter Besenyei today completed an amazing flight through the famous Corinth Canal in Greece. The Hungarian pilot crossed the base of the 6.4km-long and 21.4m-wide landmark while performing impressive aerial manoeuvers and breathtaking tricks.

CORINTHOS (Greece) – Peter Besenyei, one of the most talented pilots in the world and a legend of the skies today crossed the Corinth Canal in his plane. The aircraft, an Extra 300S D-EFBY that weighs in at approximately 608kg and has 300+ horsepower, has a wingspan of 8m – not much less than the 21.4m that the Corinth Canal measures at its narrowest point. Opened in 1893, the historic waterway connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea

After crossing the canal for the first time in an aligned flight, the pilot raised the degree of difficulty by performing a series of risky tricks during his second pass. The Hungarian then continued with a flight under the old bridge of Corinthos, followed by a vertical climb and a steep descent into the Canal. Besenyei completed his programme performing two impressive loops around the bridge.

“This is a dream come true. The Corinth Canal is a historic location and has always been a challenge for me. It’s great to be in Greece. I really enjoyed this unique experience,” commented Besenyei, who was crowned champion in the first season of the Red Bull Air Race and has remained one of the competition’s leading pilots ever since.

The 57-year-old started his career as a test pilot for the Hungarian Aviation Office and as an aerobatics flying instructor. Today he is one of the most popular sportsmen in his native Hungary thanks to his unrivalled flying success. Besenyei attracted international attention several years ago with a spectacular upside-down flight under the Chain Bridge that spans the Danube river in Budapest.

RED BULL AIR RACE: Air Race returns – Bonhomme beats old rival

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).

 

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