Bonhomme Leads In Rio's Red Bull Air Race First Training Session <


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Bonhomme Leads In Rio's Red Bull Air Race First Training Session

By Bill Goldston

May 7, 2010 - Paul Bonhomme of Britain topped the time sheets in the first Red Bull Air Race training session on Thursday ahead of the weekend’s race in Rio de Janeiro. Compatriot Nigel Lamb was second under brilliant blue skies and Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff put in a strong performance with third place after making major modifications to his engine’s exhaust system.

Bonhomme, the defending champion and overall points leader this year, posted the fastest time of the day (1:21.58) after a flawless display of flying on the 5,634-metre course of 15 Air Gate obstacles set up in front of Flamengo Beach, where a million viewers are expected for Sunday’s race. Bonhomme, who won the first Rio race three years ago, said it is a wonderful race track that should produce fast times.

But the British ace also cautioned against reading too much into the results as Austria’s Hannes Arch - who beat him in the last race in Perth, Australia - appeared to use the training session to focus on learning the track before presumably raising his speed later on.


Arch was back in fifth behind Russia’s Sergey Rakhmanin. Lamb, who is second overall in the championship after the first two races of the eight-race season, took second in Rio’s first timed session when he stopped the clock in 1:23.05 while Ivanoff was third in 1:23.53.

“It’s a lovely track to fly and there are no bits where you sit on the edge of your seat,” said Bonhomme, whose track entry speed was 368 km/h and 24 km/h faster than Arch. “But on these tracks there are a lot of areas where you can make good time or lose a lot of time. I think the major issue here is the sea birds that are in the holding area before you enter the track. You have to spend a lot of time looking out for the birds and if you’re not careful that can distract your thinking as you enter the track.”

Lamb agreed the race track set up in front of Rio’s magnificent shoreline is special. “It’s a fantastic setting,” Lamb said. “The track and the conditions are really, really nice. I really enjoyed it. But you shouldn’t read too much into the times. You don’t know what power settings different people have got or if they’re experimenting. Everyone’s just playing around with different lines.” Ivanoff said he decided revert back to the original exhaust system beneath the engine because his experimental side exhaust was proving to be a distraction. “It was the right decision for me,” Ivanoff said.


The weekend’s race in Rio is the second consecutive race this year in the Southern Hemisphere, the first time in Red Bull Air Race history that there have been back-to-back races south of the equator and a reflection of the growing popularity of the high-speed, low altitude sport around the world. Brazilian rookie Adilson Kindlemann will only be a spectator after his plane was wrecked in an accident in Perth. But Michael Goulian of the United States will be carrying Brazil’s national colours into the race after signing a sponsorship deal with Brazil energy giant Petrobras. Goulian has already been dubbed “Gouliano” by the local media.

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