This weekend the Red Bull Air Race World Championship returned from a three-year break with a spectacular three-way battle for first in the bright blue skies over Abu Dhabi. Britain's Paul Bonhomme took the win on Saturday with a clutch performance in a pressure-packed finale, just ahead of his perennial rival, Austrian Hannes Arch, with Canadian Pete McLeod in third place.
Bonhomme, the defending Red Bull Air Race World 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 race, but managed to fly nearly two seconds faster in the final round and score the win with the day's best time – 56.439 seconds. This narrowly bested Arch's time of 56.776, and set the scene for the Bonhomme / Arch rivalry to continue into the 2014 season of the world's fastest motorsports series.
The first race proved difficult for the two American pilots, as Kirby Chambliss picked up a gate penalty that eliminated him in the first round, and Michael Goulian was unable to compete due to an engine problem. The rule changes for the 2014 season, such as the introduction of standardized engines for all 12 pilots, served create a more competitive field, with McLeod, Matt Hall of Australia, 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).
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. Red Bull Air Race Abu Dhabi will air on FOX Sports 1 on Monday, March 3 at 9:30pm Eastern time. The broadcast will also be available on demand at 11:30pm ET on Red Bull TV which is available for free on the web at www.redbull.tv, through its iOS and Android applications, and on Xbox 360, Apple TV, Chromecast, and select Smart TVs.
In the Red Bull Air Race pilots race against the clock as they try to navigate their race planes as fast as possible through a challenging low-altitude slalom course filled with Air Gate obstacles. The pilots reach speeds of up to 230 miles per hour and endure forces of up to 10Gs in the tight turns on courses.
The 2014 season promises to be more competitive than ever before with all 12 pilots flying with standardized engines and propellers 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
The 2014 Race Calendar Event Dates FOX Sports 1
1. Abu Dhabi, UAE Feb. 28 – March 1 March 3 at 9:30 pm ET
2. Rovinj, CROATIA April 12 – 13 April 14 at 7:30 pm ET
3. Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya, MAS May 17 - 18 May 19 at 8:30 pm ET
4. Gdynia, POL July 26 – 27 July 28 at 8:30 pm ET
5. Ascot, GBR August 16 -17 August 4 at 6:30 pm ET
6. Dallas /Fort Worth, USA September 6 – 7 Sept. 7 at 2 pm ET
7. Las Vegas, USA October 11 – 12 Oct. 12 at 4 pm ET
8. Kunshan, CHN November 1 – 2 Nov. 3 at 8:30 pm ET
Hannes Arch, (AUT)
Peter Besenyei, (HUN)
Paul Bonhomme, (GBR)
Kirby Chambliss, (USA)
Matthias Dolderer, (GER)
Michael Goulian, (USA)
Matt Hall, (AUS)
Nicolas Ivanoff, (FRA)
Nigel Lamb, (UK)
Pete Mc Leod, (CAN)
Yoshi Muroya, (JPN)
Martin Sonka, (CZE)
About The Red Bull Air Race World Championship
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world's best race pilots in a pure motorsport 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 80 feet high. There are several rules and safety changes compared to the last race three years ago, but one thing remains the same: The Red Bull Air Race is the most thrilling motorsports competition in the sky. More info at www.redbullairrace.com.