Category Archives: Airshow News Air Sports

Red Bull pulls the plug on the Red Bull Air Race

The Red Bull Air Race will wrap up for good after an abbreviated 2019 season, it was announced today.

In a surprise announcement, the Air Race said that “Red Bull has decided not to continue the Red Bull Air Race World Championship beyond the 2019 season.”

They added: “The Red Bull Air Race provided sports entertainment of highest quality but did not attract the level of outside interest as many other Red Bull events across the world. Red Bull thanks the pilots, their teams, partners, the host cities as well as the Red Bull employees for all they have done to make these enjoyable and memorable events.”

Just four of the eight planned races will go ahead this year: the Abu Dhabi round, which has already been staged, Kazan, Russia June 15-16), Lake Balaton, Hungary (13-14 July) and Chiba, Japan (7-8 September). Planned races in the USA and Saudi Arabia have been dropped.

Confirming the American race had been cancelled, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said they and their fans would be “disappointed” not to host the air race again. “We enjoyed watching the pilots navigate the unique course over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds,” they said. “We were especially excited to see American pilot Michael Goulian celebrate a well-earned victory last year.”

Customers who have already purchased tickets will receive a refund.

Martin Sonka, the 2018 World Champion, was the first pilot to comment online, describing the announcement as “really sad news” and indicating he had only heard of the decision earlier that day.

In a statement, Matt Hall Racing said: “While disappointed that a sport, which had significant potential to succeed, will be no longer, Matt Hall Racing express their gratitude to Red Bull for the opportunity to compete at the top level of aviation for the past eight seasons.”

The unique motorsport, which began in 2003, sees a selection of elite pilot flying highly-modified raceplanes around a course of inflatable pylons. More than 90 races have taken place around the world, in locations as diverse as Longleat in the UK, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA and the Swan River in Perth, Australia.

Row forces Red Bull Air Race from Budapest to Balaton

ZAMÁRDI | The Red Bull Air Race will land in a new venue this July after the Mayor of Budapest blocked plans for the race to be held in his city.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

Zamárdi, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton in Hungary, will host the competition for the first time on the 13th-14th July. The well-known holiday town has a population of just under 2,500 people – but with its experience hosting large outdoor events, dozens of hotels in the area and good links to the Hungarian capital, Zamárdi’s Mayor, Gyula Csákovics, is confident that the event will be a success.

He said: “The city of Zamardi has over 15 years of professional experience in hosting large, outdoor events and is perfectly suitable for hosting the Red Bull Air Race. The surroundings and the spectacular view will live up to the standards of the competition, and Red Bull Air Race will bring great publicity to both the city and the whole Balaton region.”

Red Bull Air Race officials have evaluated several towns on Lake Balaton in recent weeks after the Mayor of Budapest said he would not allow the race to be held there. István Tarlós has long called for the event to be banned from the city, citing noise complaints and disruption to the daily lives of local people.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

Budapest has hosted the air race in almost every year of the championship has been held: from 2003 to 2010 and again from 2015 to 2018, only missing the race in 2014. The venue is particularly well-loved by fans, who enjoy watching the aircraft fly over the River Danube, in front of the Hungarian Parliament and under the Chain Bridge.

Ticket holders for the Budapest race are entitled to a full refund; ticket options for the Balaton race will be announced soon.

Magnificent Muroya takes double Abu Dhabi victory

ABU DHABI | Yoshi Muroya won the opening round of the Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi today by the narrowest of margins, taking the win by just 0.003 seconds.

Photo: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

The 2017 world champion performed spectacularly all week, excelling in Free Practice, flying fastest in Qualifying and taking the victory on Race Day. Under the new format, this earned him the maximum 28 points available over the weekend.

Martin Sonka, the reigning world champion, showed his credentials by coming second, finishing a split second behind his Japanese rival. Michael Goulian finished third both in the race and in Qualifying, meaning he now sits just one point behind Sonka.

Photo: Naim Chidiac / Red Bull Content Pool

Nicolas Ivanoff was both the luckiest and unluckiest pilot of the day. After posting the slowest time of the field in Qualifying, he lost his Round of 14 heat against Yoshi Muroya, but made it through to the next round as the fastest loser. He then beat Kirby Chambliss in the Round of 8, but could not race in the Final 4 as his plane’s engine refused to start. The Frenchman, who won in Abu Dhabi in 2016, had to settle for fourth place.

The pilots battled challenging winds on race day which made gates 7 and 14 much harder than in the Free Practice and Qualifying sessions. Half of pilots picked up penalties in the Round of 8, including Kirby Chambliss, who was caught for climbing in gate 10 and ended with the slowest time of the round. Mika Brageot, who finished in seventh, incurred two penalties; one for insufficient smoke and one for exceeding 11G.

Photo: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Almost two-thirds of the field picked up penalties in the Round of 14, including Cristian Bolton, who opted for a Safety Climb-Out when he exceeded 12G after gate 6 and was then unable to get his wings level for gate 7. As a result, the Chilean finished in 14th place.

Later, Matt Hall picked up a two-second Incorrect Level penalty at gate 7, which should have given Britain’s Ben Murphy a clear passage to the Round of 8. Instead, the British pilot exceeded 11G and then hit the outside pylon at gate 7. The combined four seconds of penalty knocked Murphy out of the round; he finished in 13th overall. He later said that an alternator failure had distracted him from what should have been an easy run.

Photo: Andreas Schaad / Red Bull Content Pool

Matthias Dolderer was another big name to bow out early. Visibly furious with himself for his Incorrect Level penalty at gate 14, the 2016 world champion ended the day in 11th place. Pete McLeod also had a frustrating week; his 9th place finish (caused by yet another penalty at gate 7) belied his fantastic runner-up performace in Qualifying. However, McLeod was not given the two points usually awarded to the Qualifying runner-up because he his magnito settings accidentally exceeded the regulations.

Muroya therefore starts the season with a spectacular six point lead over his closest rival, but Goulian and Sonka have proved that they are hungry to repeat last year’s success.

RACE RESULTS

Race finish Pilot Country Race points Final time Penalties Quali finish
1 Yoshi MUROYA JPN 25 0:53.780 1
2 Martin SONKA CZE 22 0:53.783 4
3 Michael GOULIAN USA 20 0:54.009 3
4 Nicolas IVANOFF FRA 18 DNS N/A 14
5 Matt HALL AUS 14 0:54.760 8
6 Juan VELARDE ESP 13 0:55.221 +2 6
7 Mika BRAGEOT FRA 12 0:56.263 +2 5
8 Kirby CHAMBLISS USA 11 0:56.341 +2 13
9 Pete MCLEOD CAN 5 0:55.196 +2 2
10 Petr KOPFSTEIN CZE 4 0:55.816 +2 12
11 Matthias DOLDERER GER 3 0:56.443 +2 10
12 Francois LE VOT FRA 2 0:58.109 +2 9
13 Ben MURPHY GBR 1 0:58.638 +4 7
14 Cristian BOLTON CHI 0 DNF +3 11

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Position Pilot Team Country Total points Change
1 Yoshi MUROYA Team Falken JPN 28 =
2 Martin SONKA Red Bull Team Sonka CZE 22 =
3 Michael GOULIAN Team Goulian USA 21 =
4 Nicolas IVANOFF Team Hamilton FRA 18 =
5 Matt HALL Matt Hall Racing AUS 14 =
6 Juan VELARDE Team Velarde ESP 13 =
7 Mika BRAGEOT #11RACING Team Eyetime FRA 12 =
8 Kirby CHAMBLISS Team Chambliss USA 11 =
9 Pete MCLEOD Cashback World Racing CAN 5 =
10 Petr KOPFSTEIN Team Spielberg CZE 4 =
11 Matthias DOLDERER Matthias Dolderer Racing GER 3 =
12 Francois LE VOT FLV Racing Team 12 FRA 2 =
13 Ben MURPHY The Blades Racing Team GBR 1 =
14 Cristian BOLTON Cristian Bolton Racing CHI 0 =

 

Budapest Mayor refuses to grant Red Bull Air Race permissions

BUDAPEST | The Red Bull Air Race faces a possible crisis after the Mayor of Budapest said he would not allow the event to be held in his city this year.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

The Hungarian capital is scheduled to host the fourth stop of the season on the 13th-14th July, according to the sport’s official calendar, which was released last week.

Budapest has hosted the air race in almost every year of the championship has been held; from 2003 to 2010 and from 2015 to 2018, missing only the race in 2014. The venue is particularly well-loved by fans, who enjoy watching the aircraft fly over the River Danube, in front of the Hungarian Parliament and under the Chain Bridge.

However, the city’s Mayor, István Tarlós, has long called for the event to be banned from the city, citing noise complaints and disruption to the daily lives of local people.

Mr Tarlós released a statement today saying that he has not given permission for the event to land in Budapest this year. He said that he has informed the event organisers that the city will refuse to issue the licenses they need to stage the race.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

The Mayor’s move was also backed by Zsolt Láng, Mayor of District II of Budapest.

Mr Tarlós suggested the organisers consider staging the race on the River Danube further out of town or over one of Hungary’s many lakes. However, many of these venues may lack the infrastructure required to host the competition, and significant funding is also required from local authorities.

The Red Bull Air Race 2019 season kicks off in Abu Dhabi this week.

Red Bull Air Race 2019 tour calendar released

SALZBURG  | The Red Bull Air Race will be heading to new venues this year, with races expected across Europe, North America and Asia.

The race season will begin in Abu Dhabi in February for the traditional season opener before spending the next few months in Europe. This will be followed by two races in Asia and one in Saudi Arabia.

The location for the second date of the tour has not been decided, but an NBN news report last week said the series would feature a new venue “over the Mediterranean”.

A second unconfirmed venue is planned in Asia, however in previous years, events marked “Asia; TBC” on the Red Bull Air Race’s preliminary schedule have in fact been relocated to Europe. A number of Asian cities are known to have expressed interest in hosting the air race, including Singapore and Hong Kong, while Putrajaya in Malaysia hosted a one-off race in 2014.

Notably, the air race will not land in Budapest this year. While originally scheduled for July, the Mayor of Budapest refused to grant the organisers permission to hold the event. Instead, it will be staged at a new venue on the shore of Lake Balaton.

Some fans have criticised the air race organisers for the late release of their schedule, which was published just ten days before the first race and is still incomplete.

Dates Location Notes
Feb 8-9 The Corniche, Abu Dhabi, UAE RACE
Mar 21-23 Dammam Corniche, Dammam, Saudi Arabia DEMO
Jun 1-2 Aviatická Pouť Airshow, Pardubice, Czech Republic DEMO
Jun 15-16 Kazanka River, Kazan, Russia RACE
Jul 13-14 Zamárdi, Lake Balaton, Hungary RACE; Moved from Budapest
TBC Europe; TBC RACE; Postponed from May
Sep 7-8 Makuhari Beach, Chiba, Japan RACE
TBC Asia; TBC RACE
Oct 19-20 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, IN, USA RACE
Nov 8-9 Saudi Arabia RACE

Goulian, Chambliss & Ivanoff to retire from Red Bull Air Race

SALZBURG | Three of the biggest names in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship will retire at the end of the 2019 season, it was announced today.

Kirby Chambliss is currently the last remaining pilot who has been with the sport since its inception in 2003. The 59-year-old Texan was World Champion in 2004 and 2006. His aggressive flying style saw him struggle for form in more recent years, but he finished fourth overall in 2017 and sixth last season.

Chambliss is also an active airshow performer in the United States, flying both solo aerobatic displays and performances with other Red Bull-sponsored displays.

Michael Goulian, the second American pilot in the Championship, is also set to retire. The 50-year-old aerobatic ace joined the competition in 2004. He achieved his first race win, but had to wait until 2018 for his second first place finish. Last season was his best to date; Goulian took two race wins and three other podiums, finishing third overall.

Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff also joined the tour in 2004. Now 51, Ivanoff has struggled to keep pace with the competition in recent years and has been blighted by problems with his plane that saw him fly much of the 2017 season in a stock Edge 540 borrowed from the Challenger Class. His best result was in 2014, when he finished fourth overall.

There is no word yet on which Challenger Class graduates will replace the three outgoing pilots, but it is likely that Kevin Coleman of the USA will take over the Chambliss team.

The Red Bull Air Race 2019 season begins in Abu Dhabi next month.

Rule changes announced for Red Bull Air Race 2019 season

SALZBURG | There will be changes to the way points and penalties are awarded during the upcoming season of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

For the first time since 2010, points will be awarded on the basis of qualifying results. In the past, the winner of qualifying was awarded one world championship point. This was abandoned when the series returned in 2014. This year, however, the top three qualifying performers will receive one, two and three points respectively.

The number of points at stake on race day will also increase, with additional bonus points for pilots who progress through each round. Race winners will now receive 25 points, up from 15 last year.

The new scoring system will force teams to reassess their qualifying and race day tactics.

The most pronounced scoring gap will separate those who did and didn’t make it through the Round of 14; eight place finishers will get 11 points (up from 3) and ninth place finishers will get 5 (up from two). Only the pilot finishing in last place will earn no championship points at all.

Penalties for exceeding maximum G will be simplified, in another change to the rulebook. In 2018, pilots would be hit with a 2-second penalty if they exceeded 10G for more than 0.6 seconds, and face an automatic DNF if they exceeded 12G. This year, a two-second penalty will be issued for exceeding 11G, while 12G will trigger a DNF.

The new rules will help make the 2019 season one of the most exciting and competitive seasons yet. The series kicks off in Abu Dhabi next month.