SALZBURG | The Red Bull Air Race are yet to announce their 2019 calendar, but with the first race just over a month away, the first details are already emerging.
Earlier today, the Blades Racing Team confirmed on Twitter that the first race of the season will be held in Abu Dhabi next month. We believe the dates for the race will be Friday 8th and Saturday 9th February.
Cannes may host the second or third race of the season, with local events websites suggesting the French leg of the tour could be held in April, although we are unclear on their sources.
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.
Also expected to host a race next year is the Russian city of Kazan, which is currently two years into its three year contract.
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.
The remainder of the season is still unknown to us at the current time, but there are other locations clearly on Red Bull’s radar. 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.
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.
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?
Another venue for consideration 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.