April 8, 2010 -
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship battle will heat up in
Perth, Western Australia on
17/18 April with the second stop of the eight-race season where
defending champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain will be trying to stay in
front of a growing pack of challengers. Matt Hall, a former Royal
Australian Air Force fighter pilot, will be flying in front of his
sports-mad compatriots for the first time in the high-speed,
low-altitude race through Air Gates set up on the
The 15 Red Bull
Air Race pilots are looking forward to a return to the city in the sun
on Australia’s western rim and the
enthusiastic crowds. Perth, which has one of the most difficult tracks
in the world, previously hosted what turned out to be thrilling season
finales in 2006, 2007 and 2008 before being moved forward towards the
start of the season this year.
The races in
have traditionally been full of upsets in the past and this year
will likely be no exception.
“We had a great weekend in Abu
Dhabi and we’re looking forward to Perth but we have to keep focused
as we’ve learned in the past that the air race road is covered with
banana skins - and we’ll do our best not to step on one,” said
Bonhomme, who prevailed in difficult wind and weather conditions in
Abu Dhabi to win the season opener in March. Bonhomme also won the
last race in Perth
in November 2008. Australia
has nevertheless been a disappointing place in the past for the 2009
champion as he ended up as runner-up to
Austria’s Hannes Arch here in 2008
and to American Mike Mangold in 2007.
Nigel Lamb was a close second to Bonhomme in
last month and with his revolutionary new wings that help him speed
through the turns Lamb is Bonhomme’s most dangerous rival this year,
just two points behind in the championship.
Hungary’s Peter Besenyei took third.
But Bonhomme knows there were at least seven other pilots aside from
Lamb and Besenyei with impressive speed in Abu Dhabi and the 2010
championship will be tighter than ever before as the field of favourites
has widened considerably.
Australia’s Hall, who was the most successful rookie
in Red Bull Air Race history last year with a third place overall, was
flying well in Abu Dhabi and posted the second fastest net time in the
Top 12. Hall has been looking forward to flying in
for two years. “I'm very excited and focused for Perth,” said Hall, who is from Merewether NSW.
Also hot on the heels of Bonhomme and capable of
winning in Perth are Americans Michael
Goulian and Kirby Chambliss, Pete McLeod of
Canada, Nicolas Ivanoff of
France, Alejandro Maclean of
and Arch. All the challengers were flying nearly as fast, or at times
even faster, than Bonhomme at various points during the race weekend in Abu Dhabi.