Red Bull Air Race Returns To Perth With Growing Field Of Favorites <


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Red Bull Air Race Returns To Perth With Growing Field Of Favorites

Shane Nolan  (also see Red Bull Air Race Plane Crash In Perth Pilot Adilson Kindlemann OK)

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 Swan River. 

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 Perth 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. 

Britain’s Nigel Lamb was a close second to Bonhomme in Abu Dhabi 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 Perth 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 Spain 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.


The race track in Perth has always been one of the most challenging on the circuit for the Red Bull Air Race pilots because of the notoriously shifting winds. This year the circular course over the Swan River will be even more difficult with pilots flying two vertical turning manoeuvres. The track will also include two ‘knife-edge’ gates separated a difficult 270-degree turn – a new standard feature of the 2010 season that caused many pilots difficulties in the season opener in Abu Dhabi with plenty of pylon hits and penalty points picked up. 

Perth is of course famous for being windy and this has presented a challenge to the pilots in previous years when the wind during the morning run is different to the winds in the afternoon,” said Race Director Drew Searle. “The usual result is multiple pylon hits which often brings different faces to the podium at the end of the race.” 

The last remaining tickets are still available for Grandstand seating and Hospitality areas located at Sir James Mitchell Park on the South Perth foreshore.
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