Red Bull Air Race World Championship

10 Feb 2017

Red Bull Air Race 2017: Martin Sonka wins Qualifying round in Abu Dhabi

Martin Sonka was leader of the pack in Abu Dhabi at the Red Bull Air Race on Friday 10 February 2017.

He stormed through Qualifying in just 52.097s – the fastest time this week.

“We are happy not just with the result, but to prove to ourselves we can fly fast and consistently with no penalties or mistakes,” he said. “We have to do the same tomorrow."

He added: “This is a very fast track and every little mistake counts, so you have to fly smoothly, and we're entering the pull-ups at a very high speed, so it's easy to over-G.”

Defending World Champion Matthias Dolderer meanwhile had a Qualifying session he'll want to forget.

The German clipped a pylon on his first run giving him a three second penalty. In his second run he passed the last gate at an incorrect level.

After a long review he was given another two second penalty, which moved him down to 11th place.

He said: ”I didn't fly in the right rhythm today, and I hope I can correct the mistakes I made by looking at the analysis tonight … But there are no points for today, we will see what happens tomorrow."

After flying a non-scoring Qualifying round in the Red Bull Air Race, pilots fly for scoring positions on Race Day. In Abu Dhabi Race Day is on Saturday 11 February 2017.

There two new Red Bull Air Race pilots, Mikael Brageot and Cristian Bolton, finished seventh and eighth, setting times that were just over a second slower than Sonka.

2016 runner up Matt Hall struggled. He is awaiting his new raceplane and in the meantime has an older machine that is not nearly competitive enough. The Australian finished in 13th.

Follow the Red Bull Air Race live online at