Red Bull Air Race World Championship rolls to Porto
Sept. 3, 2009 – The Red Bull Air Race World Championship heads into the home stretch with another pulsating fight for the title after Britain’s Paul Bonhomme moved into first place just in front of defending champion Hannes Arch of Austria going into the penultimate race of the 2009 season in Porto and Gaia, Portugal.
Sept. 3, 2009 – The Red Bull Air Race World Championship heads into the home stretch with another pulsating fight for the title after Britain’s Paul Bonhomme moved into first place just in front of defending champion Hannes Arch of Austria going into the penultimate race of the 2009 season in Porto and Gaia, Portugal on 12/13 September.
American Michael Goulian claimed the first victory of his career in the last race in Budapest while Bonhomme took second, good enough to knock Arch off the top of the championship standings for the first time in 2009. Goulian and Kirby Chambliss, who got a second consecutive third place in Budapest, will be looking to put pressure on the leaders. The Portuguese cities on the Douro River will be hosting the race for the third year running after more than 650,000 spectators watched the world’s best pilots in action in 2007 and 2008 on one of the fastest tracks on the calendar.
Bonhomme, who surrendered the championship lead to Arch with an untimely stumble in Porto last year, snatched first place back from Arch in Budapest. No pilot has won more than one race this year as the competition has grown intense. Goulian became the fourth different winner in four races this year with his stunning victory in front of 650,000 spectators in Budapest. Another illustration of the fierce battle for points is that a total of 11 different pilots in the 15-man field made it into the Top 5 at least once – Bonhomme, Arch, France’s Nicolas Ivanoff, Americans Goulian, Chambliss, and Mike Mangold as well as Britain’s Nigel Lamb, Hungary’s Peter Besenyei, Russia’s Sergey Rakhmanin along with rookies Matt Hall of Australia and Matthias Dolderer of Germany. A sharp narrowing of the gap between the leaders and the chasing pack has made the 2009 championship battle the most exciting ever.
“There are a lot of guys who’ve suddenly got more power and that’s putting pressure on those who were quicker until now,” said Bonhomme who after finishing second in the championship in 2007 and 2008 is eager to win his first title in his fifth season in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. “I think it’s great. I think ‘bring it on’. Let’s have more of that pressure. We’re looking forward to Porto. I think this championship is going to go right down to the wire.”
Bonhomme leads the championship on 42 points with one victory in Windsor and three second place finishes. Arch has 41 points with one win in the season opener in Abu Dhabi as well as a third, second and fourth place since then. Arch got two additional points for Qualifying fastest in Abu Dhabi and San Diego.
The Austrian was miffed about a penalty in his final Budapest run but vowed to bounce back: “I was the fastest pilot out there. But we’re definitely not going to give up. We’re going to hit back in Porto.”
Last year a total of one million spectators packed the banks of the Douro River during the two days of racing against the backdrop of the famous red-tiled roofs lining the steep river valley, making it one of the biggest crowds ever at a sporting event in Portugal. This year Qualifying takes place on Saturday 12 September at 14:30 local time followed by Race Day on Sunday 13 September starting at 14:00.