02 Jun 2016

Red Bull Air Race 2016: Heads for Chiba, Japan

Germany’s Matthias Dolderer has a firm grip on the leaderboard in the Red Bull Air Race as the third leg of the international competition comes to Chiba in Japan for the first weekend in June.

After two races so far this year – Abu Dhabi in February and Spielberg, Austria, in April – he is on 27 points, 8 points ahead of France’s Nicolas Ivanoff in second place. Hannes Arch is in third with 12 points.

Dodderer has had a brilliant season so far. He was only one-tenth of a second behind race winner Nicolas Ivanoff in Abu Dhabi, and got his first career win in Spielberg.

That has pushed him to the top of the rankings as the Red Bull Air Race gets ready to arrive in Japan – the third stop on their nine-date tour this year.

“After the land-based track of Spielberg, the race in Chiba couldn't be more different,” Red Bull Air Race organisers explained. “In Austria, the race was amongst the mountains, and snow fell on Race Day. In Japan, the race will take place – almost literally – at sea level, with the average temperature for June is 21C.

“Running a raceplane engine in these warmer conditions is a challenge in itself, and it will be the pilot who can keep his engine cool who will benefit the most.”

Chiba is the only track that will be in open water this year.

Retired Red Bull Air Race World Champion and 2015 Chiba race winner, Paul Bonhomme said: "The racetrack was interesting last year and what happens will depend on the wind.

“If there's a south-westerly wind, it'll push people over to one side of the track and after a vertical turn, it might be hard to make the correct adjustment at the speeds flown in the Red Bull Air Race."

Out in open water the pilots have fewer reference points and need to deal with reflection off the water, making it even harder for pilots to precisely navigate the track and stick to their racing lines.

The race runs over the weekend of 4-5 June 2016 and can be followed online at www.redbullairrace.com.