Red Bull Air Race World Championship

12 Feb 2017

Red Bull Air Race 2017: Martin Sonka cleans up in Abu Dhabi

Martin Sonka flew one of the quickest times of the day to win his first Red Bull Air Race at the season opener in Abu Dhabi.

The win comes on the back of clocking the fastest time in Qualifying the day before.

The Czech pilot, who is FAI Freestyle Aerobatics European Champion, was overjoyed.

“I'm super happy,” he said after his win. “The whole race week went very well and the team was a perfect machine, I couldn't be happier.

“It means I've finally won my first race and it's given me some confidence. Hopefully this is the start of a new story."

Juan Velarde finished second, to claim his first podium of his Master Class career.

The Spaniard said: ”It feels like a victory for me and the whole team. Just to make it through to the Final 4 was a success, to be on the podium is a huge success, and second even more.

Canada’s Pete McLeod took the final position on the podium, with defending World Champion Matthias Dolderer just missing out due to a penalty.

McCleod said: ”It's great. I can't ask for a better start. It's so competitive out there, and I wanted to pick up where left I off last season. I flew clean and disciplined which was enough.”

In the entry-level Challenger Class seven pilots battled it out to see who would take the first win of the season.

Daniel Ryfa was last to fly but won the day. “Today was the race with the most pressure I've seen,” he said afterwards. “It's not easy flying last, the times were over running and I was getting stressed.

“I had a small stall in one of the gates and thought I might have lost it, but I worked out a little trick at Gate 7 and 14 and it paid off today, I'm happy."

From Abu Dhabi the next stop on the Red Bull Air Race circuit is San Diego, USA, 15-16 April 2017

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