15 Oct 2017

Red Bull Air Race 2017: Yoshi Muroya wins the 2017 season

Yoshihide Muroya won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2017 after a final afternoon of racing that came down to the wire.

Battling bad weather and windy conditions, the final day’s racing in Indianapolis on Sunday 15 October 2017 saw blow-out after blow-out as pilot after pilot hit pylons, earning themselves three-second penalties.

Race leader Martin Sonka (CZE) went head-to-head with Muroya (JPN) early on in the race, and almost blew his chances when he too hit a pylon. He had a nervous wait to see if he would be able to progress through to the final cut as the “fastest loser”.

In the end, he did scrape through, but in the very last race session he was much slower than Muroya. Muroya flew the flight of his life, logging the fastest lap and claiming victory at both the Indianapolis leg of the Red Bull Air Race, and the overall Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2017 season.

“My time was really good,” he said afterwards, “But after the final race my time was 1:03. I thought my timing computer was broken, but it happened. Maybe my family was pushing me one second faster to help me win, to become World Champion!”

Muroya is known as one of the hardest working and most focused pilots in the Red Bull Air Race. His dedication paid off last year with one of the biggest stories of last season when he clinched his first race win – and the first for his native Japan – in front of 90,000 home fans. 

Muroya started glider training as an 18-year-old university student, eventually claiming third place in Japan's glider championship. He earned his pilot's licence in the USA and studied aerobatics under renowned instructor Randy Gagne. On the way to becoming Japan's top aerobatics pilot, he competed in the FAI Advanced World Aerobatic Championships, the FAI World Aerobatic Championships and FAI European Championships.

Muroya is a passionate advocate of aviation and of Fukushima, his home since 1998. He's flown in hundreds of air shows to inspire spectators, and after Fukushima was rocked by a devastating earthquake in 2011, he was named a goodwill ambassador for the area. He continues to work toward Fukushima's recovery, and his persistence and mental toughness are an inspiration to residents.

After his win he paid tribute to his supporters at home and said: "I am an ambassador for the area. I may not help them, but I am helped by them. I train there. Lots of people support me. That’s why I can be Red Bull Air Race World Champion."

Since joining the Red Bull Air Race in 2009, Muroya has introduced innovations ranging from pre-race Zazen meditation to a variety of raceplane innovations. 

He has claimed podiums in locations as diverse as Rovinj, Croatia; Ascot, UK; and Fort Worth, USA – and now, in spectacular style, in Indianapolis, USA. 

Results and more at www.redbullairrace.com

Photo © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool