SALZBURG | The Red Bull Air Race are yet to announce their 2019 calendar, but with the first race just two weeks away, the first details are already emerging.
An NBN News report about Australian racer Matt Hall this morning said that there will be two new race locations on the calendar this year “over the Mediterranean and in the Middle East”.
Of the remaining races, two have already been confirmed by Red Bull: the opening round will take place in Abu Dhabi on Friday 8th-Saturday 9th February, with Chiba in Japan hosting a race in early September.
City officials in Budapest have confirmed the event will return to the Hungarian capital on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th July. This is despite the city’s mayor pledging to ban the event last summer after locals complained of noise disturbance and road closures.
With three venues confirmed and two new ones on the way, that means around three existing host cities are likely to see the Red Bull Air Race return to their skies this year. This will include the Russian city of Kazan, which is currently two years into its three year contract. The Kazan round is likely to be in early June.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, USA, completed their three-year contract to host the race last year, but IMS bosses are said to be pleased with crowd sizes and said in October that they were keen to negotiate a new deal. The IMS website suggests they are planning to host a race this year, but no date is given.
Probably off the cards is the city of Porto in Portugal. Around 850,000 turned out to watch the race in Porto in 2017, but the championship didn’t return to the city last year. Porto’s mayor told local media in December 2018 that, while the matter would not be closed until later this month, he did not expect the series to return to Porto in 2019.
Austria is also not expected to host a race next year, while Cannes, France, will take a break from hosting the event, which will return to the French Riviera in 2020.
The UK is one country not to have hosted the Red Bull Air Race in two years, with many British fans hoping the series will return in 2019. Four years ago, Red Bull told YM Liverpool that it was not in talks with any UK venues while it’s three year contract with Ascot Racecourse (2014-2016) remained in place. London, Longleat and Kemble have all hosted the series in the past, and campaigners in Folkestone have also called for the event to be brought to their town. Perhaps with a British pilot back in the Masterclass, the Red Bull Air Race will return to the UK once again?
A number of potential venues keen to host the tour appear not to be on the calendar for 2019. Challenger Class pilot Kenny Chiang told the South China Morning Post last year that the “wheels were in motion” to bring the competition to Hong Kong (although he admitted this could still be some way off) and Singaporean media reported that Red Bull twice tried to bring the event to the southeast Asian city state in 2010 and 2014, but according to NBN News, no races are planned in this region in 2019.
It is obvious that the Red Bull Air Race are keen to expand their presence in Asia; the 2014 season finale was originally scheduled to be hosted in China before it was moved to Austria, and as recently as 2018 a further planned stop in an unspecified Asian venue was dropped from the schedule.
Another venue for consideration in future years is Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, Australia. Matt Hall told This is Flight in 2015 that he would love to bring the event to his Belmont base. The local council made a bid to host the race in 2016, but this ultimately fell through when the state tourism authority decided not to back the move, believing it was not worth the money.
The Red Bull Air Race has held eight races per year in recent seasons, but target an eventual fifteen races per year.
We can expect the release of their preliminary 2019 calendar in the very near future – we’ll have all the latest here on This is Flight once it has been announced.