The Red Bull Air Race World Championship returns to Budapest on 4-5th July with the title fight heating up over one of the sport’s most famous racetracks on the Danube River.
Twelve years after the Red Bull Air Race made its spectacular debut with the race planes flying meters above the Danube River in the heart of Budapest, the world’s fastest motorsport series will be back again on 4th and 5th July. Two-time champion Paul Bonhomme (GBR) leads the standings but Matt Hall (AUS) is close behind with three straight podiums. 2008 champion Hannes Arch (AUT) is red hot after winning the last race in Croatia.
The title fight has never been closer going into the midway point of the eight-race season. Hungary’s Peter Besenyei, the 2003 champion with eight career victories in 61 races since the sport was created, won the first Budapest race in 2003 and will be looking for a top result in his new Edge 540 V3 airplane in front of the traditionally enthusiastic and enormous Budapest crowds.
Hungarian pilot Peter Besenyei explains “I am very happy to race in Hungary after five years as not only the fans are waiting for it, as well are the pilots. In Hungary, it will be even more special for me to race my new plane for the first time. The previous plane (Corvus) is a great piece of technology, but unfortunately not competitive in racing. With my new Edge, I expect to climb up in the rankings. The plane is faster and made for racing”.
What also makes the race in Budapest so spectacular is that the planes are flying just above the waters in the Danube river and crowds watching the racing action from the river banks can see the planes flying by at speeds of up to 370 km/h. The planes enter the race track by flying beneath Budapest’s iconic 19th century Chain Bridge.
Arch, who got the first of his 10 career wins in Budapest in 2008, will also be counting on a large following from neighboring Austria as will Czech Martin Sonka, who got a career-best second in Rovinj, from his home country nearby. Bonhomme leads the championship with 25 points after winning the first two races in Abu Dhabi and Chiba, Japan, but stumbled in Rovinj with just one point, allowing Hall (25 points) and Arch (17) to turn the Brit’s runaway lead into a tight three-way battle. Defending champion Nigel Lamb of Britain (12) and Germany’s Matthias Dolderer (10) are also within striking range. American Michael Goulian won the last race held in Budapest in 2009 and after a promising fourth place in Rovinj he is also suddenly a contender to win.
World Championship Standings: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 25 points, 2. Matt Hall (AUS) 25. 3. Hannes Arch (AUT) 17, 4. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 12, 5. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 10, 6. Martin Sonka (CZE) 9, 7. Pete McLeod (CAN) 9, 8. Michael Goulian (USA) 8, 9. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 6, 10. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 4, 11. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 2, 12. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 2, 13. Juan Velarde (ESP) 0, 14. Francois Le Vot (FRA) 0.
Pictures: Joerg Mitter
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.