Red Bull Air Race – Ascot Racecourse – 14-16 August 2015

The Friday of the event didn’t bode well for the weekend’s racing with the weather curtailing all chances of practice runs for the pilots, and indeed threatening their chances at even arriving at the location. A small break in the rain and low cloud did finally allow for them to land and for a single run through the course by Mike Mangold in one of the the Challenger aircraft, but to all intents and purposes the day was a wash out.


Thankfully the weekend did improve, and the Saturday saw the teams practice in the morning and then carry out their qualifying runs.





With Bonhomme taking ‘pole’ the scene was set for an exciting Sunday of racing, with hopes high for a home win.





Red Bull:’

Britain’s Paul Bonhomme was crowned the winner of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship stop at the famous Ascot Racecourse, flying brilliantly under pressure in the world’s fastest motorsport series. The victory was Bonhomme’s third this season and second straight win at Ascot to the delight of more than 40,000 home fans.

Bonhomme’s final run was flawless and he stopped the clock in 1:06.416 seconds. Australia’s Matt Hall took second place in a time of 1:09.024 while Yoshihide Muroya got his first podium of the season with third.

With the hard-fought victory in the Final 4, Bonhomme picked up 12 points to widen his lead at the top of the overall standings to eight points (46) ahead of Hall (38 points) in second going into the final three races. Reigning World Champion Nigel Lamb of Britain, who last year finished second at the race over the historic Ascot Racecourse, finished back in 5th place, a result that destroyed his chances of defending his title.

“It was a hard day at the office but today was great fun – I enjoyed that,” said Bonhomme after hitting speeds of near 370kph on the track that featured a standing start in front of the grandstands. “All I can say is this was due to teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. I’m only the driver. I just point the plane in the right direction.”

It was the second time the Red Bull Air Race was staged in Ascot, just west of London, that has quickly become one of the most attractive racing locations on the calendar and a favourite with the pilots.

Austria’s Hannes Arch, who struggled in the training session and was last in Qualifying on Saturday, finished a disappointing eighth after winning the last two races in Budapest and Rovinj, Croatia. Arch had a great run in the Round of 12, just beating Bonhomme. But Bonhomme was the “fastest loser” and advanced to the Round of 8. Arch was unable to get his engine started before the Round of 8 and was forced to retire. “It’s frustrating if you can’t race but that’s life,” said Arch, who slipped to third overall with 30 points.’


Paul Bonhomme went on to win the 2015 title, before announcing his retirement from the sport.

Red Bull Air Race – Ascot – Sunday 17 August 2014

British pilots Paul Bonhomme and Nigel Lamb stormed to a double victory on a wind-swept Sunday at Ascot Racecourse to win their home round of the Red Bull Air Race and turn the championship into a three-way battle, sending a sell-out home crowd of 29,000 spectators into a frenzy with thrilling performances in challenging conditions. It was the 15th career victory for Bonhomme in his 55th race and also second win of the season worth 12 championship points that helped him cut the world championship lead of Hannes Arch from 13 to just two points. There were three races left in the eight-stop season, which would finish with Nigel Lamb taking the championship. The Austrian finished a distant eighth on Sunday which would prove to be a major factor in the title race. Nicolas Ivanoff of France got his first podium since 2009 by taking third place with a time of 1:11.884.

Bonhomme, who also wears race number 55, won the Ascot race with its first-ever standing start with a flawless performance despite difficult and changing English winds that gusted up to 30 knots and caused many pilots problems. The spectators in the capacity crowd were on their feet watching the spine-tingling action from the grandstand and grassy terraces and they roared their approval when Bonhomme stopped the clock in the Final Four with a sensational time of 1:11.579. Lamb, celebrating his 58th birthday, was a close second and got his third straight podium with a sterling time of 1:11.750, which was good enough for 10 points that also put him into the thick of the championship battle with 35 points overall.

“I think this has to be the greatest escape yet – it’s a great win,” said Bonhomme, who had a dismal performance in Qualifying on Saturday and was nearly eliminated in the first round of 12 on Sunday when he was beaten by Germany’s Matthias Dolderer, who finished fourth overall on Sunday. “The British crowd just love aviation. I couldn’t have wished for a better result.”

It was a bitter day for Arch, who saw his 13-point lead over Bonhomme melt away when he was knocked out in the Super 8 round due to penalties on the windy course, but also for Pete McLeod. The Canadian had dominated Qualifying on Saturday to win pole position but was knocked out in the first round on Sunday and ended up 10th, collecting a penalty with a gate hit.
Results: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), 2. Nigel Lamb (GBR), 3. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 4. Mathias Dolderer (GER), 5. Matt Hall (AUS), 6. Yoshihide Muroya, (JPN), 7. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 8. Hannes Arch (AUT), 9. Martin Sonka (CZE), 10. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 11. Pete McLeod (CAN), 12. Michael Goulian (USA).

DSC_3460-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_3461-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_3472-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_3475-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_3477-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_3491-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_3494-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_3496-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_3509-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_3512-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5057-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5075-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5158-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5160-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5179-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5202-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5238-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5251-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5272-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5366-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5396-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5438-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5448-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5472-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5528-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5529-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5558-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5696-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5739-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5856-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5930-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5935-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_5959-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_5963-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_6026-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_6031-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_6037-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_6057-RBAR-17-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_6084-RBAR-17-8-14-PW DSC_6181-RBAR-17-8-14-PW

Red Bull Air Race – Ascot – Saturday 16 August 2014

Ascot opening day was full of surprises with Canada’s Pete McLeod winning the qualifying while championship leader Hannes Arch of Austria had an off day, finishing fifth. Britain’s Nigel Lamb was third and Paul Bonhomme a lowly seventh in front of a home crowd numbering 22,000.
Paul Bonhomme, the reigning Air Race World Champion said: “I think the wind changed the game hugely today. In training yesterday we had virtually no wind and suddenly we’ve got a monster wind from the west today. Down here in the Ascot bowl it feels quite calm but you go up there and you suddenly get a 25-knot wind. Picking the right line is quite difficult. We’re happy with the flying. We had two little engine setting issues, that’s a factor. We were very happy with our training time earlier. He added: “People keep asking me about the home crowd pressure, but I’m not feeling flustered. The pressure is from all the other guys going quickly. Everyone seems to have a quick run here and then a duffer. It’s going to be a completely new day tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”

McLeod mastered the challenging course set up above the historic horse race track west of London on a bright but blustery day and posted a winning time of 1:10.698. France’s Nicolas Ivanoff was second on 1:11.585 while Lamb took third in 1:11.842. McLeod said: “I had a great time and I’m really happy with my position. I’m definitely satisfied with my performance today. I had a lot of confidence and executed my strategy. I think my first run set me up nicely for my second qualifying run. I just took some more risks on the second run, turned in a little earlier on the gates but I wanted to fly penalty free and even though I risked a bit more in the second run it worked. I know I need to work on avoiding getting a penalty for exceeding the 10g limit. I wouldn’t use the word ‘dominate’ here after qualifying because Hannes has the ability to run this track even a little bit faster. He was having a good run in Quali 2 but he just got a little rattled or something. It doesn’t get any better on qualifying day than to take first placed. I’m definitely satisfied. It’s been a good progression for me on this track, from training to qualifying.”

The 12 pilots in the world’s fastest motorsport series delighted the big qualifying day crowd, fashionably dressed as they watched from the grandstands and grass terraces, as they roared past from the first standing start in the sport’s history. The cheers were loudest for Britain’s Bonhomme, who is second in the championship behind Arch, and Lamb, who is third overall. Both put in solid runs on the undulating course filled with trees, shrubbery, ponds and other obstacles.

Also taking place on Saturday at Ascot was the Challenger Cup with pilot Halim Othman of Malaysia claiming the top step of the podium. A smiling Othman proudly held the flag of Malaysia while his national anthem played, as the 48-year-old won the first Challenger Cup podium of his career. The decorated Malaysian air display team leader and former top gun pilot in the Royal Malaysian Air Force put in a strong effort on the first track of the season over land instead of water to jump from last place in the standings to the top six.

The Challenger Cup is a new element of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which gives the next generation of promising pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills under racing conditions.

“I’m very happy – I didn’t really expect this,” he said after congratulating his fellow podium finishers, England’s Tom Bennet in second, who got a rousing cheer from the Ascot crowd, and Claudius Spiegel of Germany in third. The Challenger Cup contenders will have their next opportunity to earn points when the Red Bull Air Race comes to Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States in September.


DSC_3276-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3286-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3297-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3332-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3342-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3357-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3373-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3386-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3388-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3393-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3395-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3406-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3415-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3447-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3458-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3732-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3735-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3809-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3859-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_3987-RBAR-16-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_4044-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4116-RBAR-16-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_4274-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4318-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4346-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4371-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4395-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4409-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4464-RBAR-16-8-14-PhilWhalley DSC_4522-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4596-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4814-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4834-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4892-RBAR-16-8-14-PW DSC_4910-RBAR-16-8-14-PW