The Red Bull Air Race World Championship moves into its decisive phase with two stops remaining in the United States to finish the season. Australia’s Matt Hall is confident he can beat Britain’s Paul Bonhomme for the title.
Matt Hall’s stirring career-first victory at the last race in Austria has turned the Red Bull Air Race World Championship into a tense battle going into the home stretch. Hall, a former Royal Australian Air Force “top gun” fighter pilot, will be aiming to keep the pressure on overall leader Paul Bonhomme at the next stop at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas on Sept. 26-27 after beating the two-time world champion from Britain by a fraction of a second at the last race in Austria.
American Kirby Chambliss, a Texas native and former champion in the high-speed, low-altitude sport, will also be looking for glory at his home race after getting third in Austria – his first podium since the 2010 race in New York. Another American, Michael Goulian of Massachusetts, is on ascending form and excited about the return of the world’s fastest motorsport series to the United States.
Hall, who has been the most consistent pilot this season with three second place finishes and no result worse than fifth, finally figured out how to beat Bonhomme for the victory in Spielberg, Austria – by just 0.057 of a second. The Australian’s victory was worth 12 championship points and turned the overall championship into a dog fight with Bonhomme (55 points) clinging to a shrinking lead over Hall (50 points).
Hall, who flew combat missions in Iraq, has traditionally performed well in hot weather and has been looking forward to hot-weather stops like Fort Worth all season. After the first half of the eight-race season went well for Hall with three podiums, the Australian changed his strategy for the second half and started flying more aggressively in search of victories – and that has worked well for him with 21 out of a maximum 24 championship points from those two races.
“Previously my tactic was to get on the podium but in the last two races I decided to pull out all the stops,” said Hall, adding the world championship was clearly the goal now. “You never know if you’ll be in striking distance of the world championship. Now I am so I’ll keep taking some risks to win. I’d hate to finish the year second by flying conservatively. I’d rather race aggressively.”
It has been a somewhat frustrating season for Bonhomme even though he has won three of the six races so far with only the stop in Fort Worth and then the finale in Las Vegas on Oct. 17-18 remaining. He was second by a record narrow margin to Hall in Spielberg: 0.057 second.
In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world’s top pilots hit speeds of 370 km/h while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate as precisely as possible through a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter high air-filled pylons.
?World Championship standings: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 55 points, 2. Matt Hall (AUS) 50, 3. Hannes Arch (AUT) 30, 4. Martin Sonka (CZE) 23, 5. Pete McLeod (CAN) 18, 6. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 17, 7. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 15, 8. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 11, 9.Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 11, 10. Michael Goulian (USA) 10, 11. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 9, 12. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 8, 13. Juan Velarde (ESP) 0, 14. Francois Le Vot (FRA) 0.
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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 talented pilots to work towards acquiring entry into the Master Class of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.