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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).

RED BULL AIR RACE: McLeod on Cloud 9 with Qualifying win in Abu Dhabi


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.”

 

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