Paul Bonhomme Rides Hot-Streak To Barcelona For Finale




Paul Bonhomme Rides Hot-Streak To Barcelona For Finale

By Mike Mitchell


September 22, 2009, Barcelona, Spain – Paul Bonhomme, who has won two of the last five rounds in this year’s Red Bull Air Race World Championship and come second in the other three, could clinch his first title next week in the final battle of 2009. He opened a four-point lead over defending champion Hannes Arch of Austria with a resounding victory on 13 September in Porto.

The British ace has been virtually unbeatable since the penultimate race of the 2008, where he threw away the title with a heart-breaking result. But Bonhomme said as painful as it was to finish 10th in Porto last year, it turned out to be watershed moment that helped him bounce back in style with a hot streak that includes two pressure-packed victories in the last three races.


“As racers we will always analyse our mistakes and hopefully improve,” Bonhomme said ahead of the 3-4 October season finale in Barcelona. He could have wilted after the disappointment of losing the title at the very the end of the 2008 season he had dominated early on. But he didn’t and has been flying the precision race better than ever this year. “My experience in Porto in 2008 was disastrous at the time but a great experience in the long term.”

Bonhomme, who celebrates his 45th birthday today alongside his rival Arch who turns 42, has been on a mission ever since. He climbed to the top of the standings this year with a career-best 55 points out of a maximum 65. He also has two 2009 victories in the five races even though his plane was clearly not the fastest for the first four races. He trailed Arch and his superior airplane through the first half of the season before taking the lead in round four in Budapest, where the Austrian fell to a season-worst fourth place. Arch only beat him once (Abu Dhabi) in a race going back to the 2008 finale in Perth even though the Austrian was often faster in training.

“Hannes was handed the championship last year – by me,” he said when asked about Arch’s suggestion that Bonhomme would struggle to cope with the championship pressure this year because he had never won a title. “My pylon hit in London and my DQ in Qualifying in Porto essentially gifted him the title last year. Barcelona will be great fun if you are a spectator.”

Bonhomme, famous for taking his afternoon tea break at the Red Bull Air Race Airport, said he well understands the pressure of the final race after having come up short in the final battle for the championship in 2007 and 2008. Despite finishing second to Mike Mangold in 2007 and Arch in 2008, he is confident 2009 will be his year.


“I think I have a massive advantage,” Bonhomme said, referring to the experience and good track record flying under pressure. “As we’ve seen in recent races, Hannes can make mistakes under pressure.” Indeed, after his strong start this year, Arch stumbled with costly penalties in the finals at Windsor and Budapest whereas Bonhomme has rarely made a race error this year. The fact is that Bonhomme is on a roll with 35 points out of an available 39 from the last three races. He also believes that along with a shorter gap between the last two races – unlike a two-month break in 2007 and 2008 – should also work in his favour.

“Our prep for Barcelona is almost perfect, I feel super relaxed and the plane is ready to go,” he said, adding he was pleased about his decision to put a modified version of his 2008 engine into the plane at Porto that gave him the fastest plane for the first time this year. He is thrilled to have been first or second all year despite not having the fastest plane. “It’s a fantastic achievement and ideal to keep in mind going into the last race of the season. I’m chuffed to bits that we’ve done so well this season with such a poor engine. I think we’re pretty well set for a good final race.”

Bonhomme said this year has been more competitive than ever with so many pilots crowding into the top – there have been four different winners in five races and 11 of the 15 pilots have made it into the top five in at least one race. “The difference in lap times is the key for me,” Bonhomme said, acknowledging the heightened competitiveness helped him raise his game. “The fact that 10 pilots are now separated by 2 seconds is a good enough reason to get your act together.”

Bonhomme said he will be focused on flying well and winning the race in Barcelona, and is not going to think about the championship until after the race is over. He is looking forward to the challenging Barcelona track.

“I’ll attack the track according to the conditions prevailing at the time,” he said Bonhomme. “I’m going to Barcelona to try and win a race. The title isn’t going to enter my mind until the race is over on Sunday when I check the standings.”

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                                           Contact Us              Return To News

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator