Hannes Arch pulled a rabbit out of his hat with a thrilling victory in front of a giant crowd of 130,000 at the first-ever Red Bull Air Race held in Poland.
GDYNIA (Poland) – Austria’s Hannes Arch widened his lead at the top of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship to 13 points with a brilliant victory in front of 130,000 spectators in Gdynia on Sunday, picking up his third straight win in Europe with some smart flying on the challenging track set up on the Baltic Sea. Britain’s Nigel Lamb was second while Matt Hall of Australia got his second straight third place as the two pilots flying the MXS-R planes once again put in stellar performances in the world’s fastest motorsport series to the delight of the crowd watching from the nearby beaches at the first-ever race in Poland.
Arch, who won the 2008 championship, now has 42 championship points at the midway point of the eight-race season. Britain’s Paul Bonhomme, the defending champion, was knocked out in the Super 8 round after getting a rare penalty and had to settle for his second straight fifth place, slipping further behind Arch on 29 points. Arch had lagged behind Bonhomme and Lamb in Qualifying but found a new line to fly the difficult 270-degree “Marine Wall” turn faster than anyone else. Arch stopped the clock in 1:09.895, Lamb was second in 1:11.306, while Hall was third in 1:11.538.
“I prefer to be the hunter than the hunted,” said Arch, who had struggled in training and Qualifying. “Being the hunter suits my style better. But I guess I’m going to have to get used to being the one that everyone else is hunting now.” Winning in Gdynia gave Arch his second victory in 2014 after he was first in Rovinj, Croatia and third straight win in Europe going back to 2010, when he was the Lausitz race in Germany. Arch was also second in Abu Dhabi to Bonhomme and second to Lamb in Putrajaya, Malaysia in the last race.
Bonhomme was bitterly disappointed about being hit with a two-second penalty for flying too high through one of the 25-meter high Air Gates, a controversial ruling that dimmed his hopes of winning a third straight championship ahead of the next stop at home in Ascot, Great Britain in August.
“From where I was sitting it looked alright to me,” Bonhomme said, adding it was “bleeding obvious” that the fifth place in Gdynia would damage his championship hopes. “If it was a ‘benefit of a doubt’ judgement call, then I’ll be pretty upset.”
Results: 1. Hannes Arch (AUT), 2. Nigel Lamb (GBR), 3. Matt Hall (AUS), 4. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 5. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), 6. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 7. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 8. Pete McLeod (CAN), 9. Michael Goulian (USA), 10. Martin Sonka (CZE), 11. Mathias Dolderer (GER), 12. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN);
World Championship: 1. Arch 42 points, 2. Bonhomme 29, 3. Lamb 26, 4. Hall 21, 5. McLeod 18, 6. Ivanoff 8, 7. Sonka 8, 8. Muroya 7, 9. Chambliss 5, 10. Dolderer 4, 11. Besenyei 4, 12 Goulian 0
(text & pictures: www.redbullairrace.com)
FAI and Red Bull Air Race World Championship signed an agreement including the provision of FAI medals especially designed for the Red Bull Air Race, the inclusion of all races in the FAI Events Calendar, and the official approval by the FAI of the race Rules & Regulations. Furthermore, the FAI provides a delegate who attends all events to supervise safety aspects.