Britain’s Nigel Lamb will have his work cut out for him when the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship kicks off in Abu Dhabi on February 13/14. The reigning world champion will be pushed to the limits by the 2008 world champion Hannes Arch (AUT), who finished second overall last year and the two-time world champion Paul Bonhomme (GBR), who won last year’s season opener in Abu Dhabi and was third overall in 2014.
In what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive fields in the history of the world’s fastest motorsports series, Lamb will also be trying to stay on top of the expanded roster of 14 pilots in the high-speed, low-altitude sport. There were five different winners in the eight races last season as the gaps between victory and defeat dwindled to their closest ever, just a mere thousands of a second separating some heats and nine of the 12 pilots made it onto the podium at least once.
“It’s going to be a very exciting and competitive year,” said Lamb, who was fifth in last year’s Abu Dhabi race and second in 2010. Two-time world champion Paul Bonhomme (GBR), who has won three of the previous seven Abu Dhabi stops is already preparing for another win in Abu Dhabi. “I’m excited to race again and we love Abu Dhabi as it’s ‘part of the furniture’ of the Red Bull Air Race.” Hot on their heels will be Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), Pete McLeod (CAN), Matt Hall (AUS), Matthias Dolderer (GER), Martin Sonka (CZE) and Yoshi Muroya (JPN) – all of whom won podium places in 2014. Former Abu Dhabi winners Peter Besenyei (HUN), who won in 2005 and 2007, and Kirby Chambliss (USA), who won Abu Dhabi in 2006 will also be back. Rounding out the field are Michael Goulian (USA) and two newcomers, Francois Le Vot (FRA) and Juan Velarde (ESP), who achieved promotion from the last year’s inaugural Challenger Cup.
Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates, offers one of the most beautiful settings on the race calendar with the track set up on the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf in front of the city’s glistening skyline and the bustling Corniche road. But it is also one of the most challenging races due to the hot temperatures at capricious winds. “The winds in Abu Dhabi can shift from one moment to the next, blowing in from a completely different direction,” said Jim DiMatteo, the Race Director of the Red Bull Air Race. “Those sudden changes make the track even more difficult for the pilots when they’re flying through it at 370 km/h.”
2015 Race Calendar:
Abu Dhabi, UAE (13/14 February)
Sochi, Russia (30 /31 May)
Budapest, Hungary (4/5 July)
Ascot, United Kingdom (15/16 August)
Spielberg, Austria (5/6 September)
Fort Worth, Texas, United States (26/27 September)
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States (17/18 October)
THE RED BULL AIR RACE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Created in 2003, officially the World Championship of air racing since 2005, the Red Bull Air Race is followed by millions of fans worldwide. The fastest motorsport series in the world features 14 of the best race pilots in a pure motor-sport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile and lightweight racing planes, pilots navigate a low-level aerial track made up of air-filled pylons 25 meters high. New since 2014 is the Challenger Cup, a competition which enables young talented pilots to work towards acquiring entry into the Master Class of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.