Czech pilot Martin Sonka is the winner of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship after a close race in Fort Worth, Texas on Sunday. The race was so nail-biting, in fact, that the Red Bull Air Race called it “one of the most dramatic races” in the history of the air race.
Sonka faced U.S. pilot Michael Goulian in the Round of 8, who seemed poised to take home the season’s number one ranking. But Goulian didn’t make it to the Final 4, and Sonka faced off with Kirby Chambliss, Ben Murphy and Matt Hall. Sonka flew the perfect run, with a time of 52.796 seconds. Australian pilot Hall came in second, followed by Chambliss and Murphy, respectively.
Fort Worth Master Class overall results
2018 World Championship Standings
Over the past ten years the Red Bull Air Races have brought a level of mainstream attention to aviation. Run on courses in the middle of city centers, pitting the world’s best pilots against each other and bringing the sport down to near-ground level, the Red Bull races have attracted millions to the sport of air racing and, perhaps more importantly, to the world of aviation.
Sonka is one of the top pilots in Europe, with excellent results in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship and major aerobatic competitions. He started flying gliders and parachute jumping at age 17. As a pilot in the Czech Air Force he flew a supersonic jet fighter, the JAS-39 Gripen, in the 211th Tactical Squadron and was a member of the Czech Air Force display team flying the L-159 ALCA. Since joining the Czech aerobatic team in 2005, Sonka has been awarded many honors, including European overall Vice Champion in the Unlimited category, two-time World Freestyle Vice Champion, two-time European Freestyle Champion, and six Unlimited and six Freestyle Championship wins at Czech Nationals.
“For the last flight I managed to have a clear head,” Sonka said post-race. “I heard that Matt [Hall] flew a super time and I knew I had to push harder and not make a mistake, and I managed. I cannot be happier.”
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