Red Bull Air Race World Championship

Last updated

Red Bull Air Race World Championship
Red Bull Air Race 2017 logo.png
Red Bull Air Race logo
Category Air Racing
CountryInternational
Inaugural season 2003
Drivers14
Drivers' champion Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Martin Šonka
Official website redbullairrace.com
Motorsport current event.svg Current season

The Red Bull Air Race, established in 2003 and created by Red Bull GmbH, is an international series of air races in which competitors have to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the fastest time. Pilots fly individually against the clock and have to complete tight turns through a slalom course consisting of pylons, known as "Air Gates".

Contents

The races are held mainly over water near cities, but are also held at airfields or natural wonders. They are accompanied by a supporting program of show flights. Races are usually flown on weekends with the first day for qualification then knockout finals the day after. The events attract large crowds and are broadcast, both live and taped, in many nations.

At each venue, the top eight places earn World Championship points. The air racer with the most points at the end of the Championship becomes Red Bull Air Race World Champion.

After a three-year hiatus for safety improvements and reorganisation, the Air Race resumed in 2014. [1] [2]

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is broadcast live and globally on Red Bull TV.

History

Action at Kemble Airport, Gloucestershire, England in June 2004 Red.bull.air.race.arp.750pix.jpg
Action at Kemble Airport, Gloucestershire, England in June 2004

The Red Bull Air Race was conceived in 2001 in the Red Bull sports think-tank which has been responsible for creating a range of new sports events across the world. The aim was to develop a new aviation race that would challenge the ability of the world's best pilots, creating a race in the sky that was not simply about speed, but also precision and skill. The answer was to build a specially designed obstacle course which the pilots would navigate at high speeds.

Development of the prototypes of what are now known as the 'Air Gates' began in 2002 and renowned Hungarian pilot Péter Besenyei successfully completed the first test flight through them. After two years in planning and development, the first official Red Bull Air Race was ready to take off in Zeltweg, Austria in 2003. A second was staged the same year near Budapest in Hungary.

In 2004, three races took place in Kemble (England), Budapest (Hungary) and Reno (USA). The series was expanded in 2005 to become the Red Bull Air Race World Series. Ten pilots competed in seven races around the world – Mike Mangold was crowned the champion with Péter Besenyei and Kirby Chambliss in second and third place respectively. Eight races took place in 2006 with 11 pilots competing. Kirby Chambliss was crowned the champion for the Series' second season. In 2007 the calendar was extended to include ten races with the first race on South American soil taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Mike Mangold reclaimed the title of Red Bull Air Race World Champion 2007. [3] 12 pilots took part in 2008 in eight races around the globe and Austrian pilot Hannes Arch became the first European to win the championship. The largest number of pilots so far took part in six races in 2009. 15 pilots from 12 different countries competed for the world championship title, this time with Brit Paul Bonhomme coming out on top, after coming so close the previous two years. [4]

In the 2010 series, during training runs prior to the race, Brazilian pilot Adilson Kindlemann crashed his plane into the Swan River in Perth. Rescuers were on site within seconds and Kindlemann was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital where it was determined that he had suffered no serious injury. As of 2014, it is the only crash in the history of the Red Bull Air Race. [5]

2011, 2012 and 2013 series cancelled

The 2011 series of races worldwide was cancelled. The decision was taken by Red Bull on 27 July 2010 to allow for a "headquarters" restructure as well as the implementation of new safety measures.

The 2012 series was also cancelled; "There will be no races in 2012, that’s true," said Red Bull Air Race Team spokesperson Nadja Zele in an email message to AOPA. "A revamped concept and a fixed race calendar will be revealed in 2013." [6] [7]

Eventually, the 2013 series was cancelled as well. However, in October 2013, it was announced that the Red Bull Air Race World Championship would return in 2014. [8] [9] Training for the upcoming season took place at Olney airport in Texas. [10] The Championship finally returned in Abu Dhabi on 28 February 2014.

Format

In earlier seasons, 2005 and 2006, pilots first ran two qualifying rounds to determine starting order, with the fastest time starting last. The race was then run over two rounds, and the combined time of both rounds determines the winner. Starting in 2007, a new knock-out format was introduced which was modified for 2008.

Flying sessions

Starting order

2006 champion, Kirby Chambliss, crossing the Quadro in the prescribed knife-edge flight in Perth, 2006 Kirby Chambliss racing in Perth.jpg
2006 champion, Kirby Chambliss, crossing the Quadro in the prescribed knife-edge flight in Perth, 2006

The starting order is the order in which the pilots will race in each flying session. The starting order for Training is defined by the results of the last year's Red Bull Air Race World Championship standings. The highest ranking pilot starts first. Starting order for new race pilots is determined by a draw. The starting order for Qualifying is defined by the results of the fourth training session. The order is reversed so that the slowest pilot from the fourth training session starts first. The starting order for all sessions on Race Day is determined by the results in Qualifying. The order is reversed so that the slowest pilot from Qualifying starts first. [11]

World Championship points

Based on the pilot's place at each race, World Championship points are awarded. The current points scoring format see first place receive 25 points, second place receive 22, on through thirteenth who receives one.

Position1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10th11th12th13th14th
Points2522201814131211543210

Rules

Pilots are required to complete the 5–6-kilometre-long (3.1–3.7 mi) track and fly between the Air Gates following a predetermined race track configuration. Failure to do this correctly results in penalty seconds being added to their race time. Penalty seconds can be added for an incorrect passing of an Air Gate or passing an Air Gate at an incorrect orientation. For more serious breaches of the rules, pilots may be ruled as "Did Not Finish" or disqualified. [11]

Three different gate types require a specific manner of crossing. Double cone gates must be crossed in level flight, single cone gates must be crossed in a 90° angle, and slalom flying through the chicane gates (knife or level flying not mandatory). [11]

Penalties are incurred for violations of the rules, as follows. [12] [13]

3 second penalty

2 second penalty

A plane slices through a pylon, resulting in a penalty RedBullAirRaceHit.jpg
A plane slices through a pylon, resulting in a penalty

1 second penalty

Did Not Finish

Disqualification

Aircraft

Zivko Edge 540. Zivko Edge 540 at Red Bull Air Race on Langley Park Monty-1.jpg
Zivko Edge 540.

The competitors use high-performance aerobatic planes such as the Zivko Edge 540, MXS-R, and the Corvus Racer 540, equipped with Lycoming engines. [16] All aircraft have a wingspan less than 7.6 metres (25 ft) and top speeds ranging from 406 to 426 km/h (252 to 265 mph).

Competitors have tuned their aircraft for better performance. However, the safety implications of engine or airframe failures mean that performance tuning by individual teams, though commonly done in motorsports, is strictly limited in scope.

Each aircraft carries a TL elektronic TL-3424_EXT accelerometer. It transmits timing and speed data which is picked up and displayed on large spectator screens.

Air Gates

Péter Besenyei crossing between the start/finish pylons in Perth, 2008. The grey horizontal stripes in the pylons, e.g. below the checkered designs, are zippers. Red Bull Air Race Besenyei 1.JPG
Péter Besenyei crossing between the start/finish pylons in Perth, 2008. The grey horizontal stripes in the pylons, e.g. below the checkered designs, are zippers.

The air gates are made up of one or two pylons, each approximately 25 metres (82 ft) high, and spaced 10 to 15 metres (33 to 49 ft) apart depending on the gate. [16]

The first prototype pylon was developed by Martin Jehart of Bellutti Protection Systems, an Austrian engineering firm specializing in the manufacturing of technical materials and tarpaulin. They initially used a latex balloon for crash tests and aerodynamic studies and after many tests and research settled on the use of a combination of different materials, the crucial component being spinnaker ripstop nylon, an extremely lightweight and flexible material used for making sails for boats. This would prove to be a breakthrough in the development of the Air Gates producing a pylon that would rip instantaneously when hit by a plane. Over 70 tests of the pylon were carried out on the ground using a car with a wing strapped on the roof before they were ready to undergo tests with a real plane. Eight different cars were used in these tests as well as a trailer and truck. Hungarian pilot, Péter Besenyei worked closely with the team and attempted the first deliberate pylon hit in early 2003 with positive results. The first Air Gates, which were cylindrical, were finally ready to be used at the very first Red Bull Air Races held in Austria and Hungary later that year.

The Air Gates play a vital role in the Red Bull Air Race, but must also fulfill complex and contradictory demands. They have to be delicate enough to burst apart the instant they are touched by an aircraft and sturdy enough to remain stationary in all weather conditions, including stormy weather and strong winds. The early cylindrical pylons fulfilled the first criterion but proved to be too unstable in the wind.

The answer came in 2004 with the cone design. These Air Gates measure 5 metres (16 ft) across the base and .75 metres (2.5 ft) at their tip. Inside the Air Gate a relatively high, and carefully monitored, pressure level is maintained with the use of powerful electrical, petrol-powered blowers that help keep the Air Gates steady even in windy conditions. Over the years the Air Gate design has developed and improved and today's Air Gates can withstand wind speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph) without being blown over. Their stability is further reinforced with 12 ground attachments, each strong enough to hold 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb). For races over water, the Air Gates are secured to a floating barge which has stability anchors. [17]

Unlike early models, the current structures are made up of six sections attached together by zippers and Velcro to allow quick replacement if damaged by a plane. Prior to May 2008, the races had used more than eight tons of fabric for the various pylons, and the average life of each pylon was 15 races. Thirty-five pylons are transported to each race, and at each race's completion, the pylons are sent to Innsbruck, Austria to be repaired. [18]

If a pylon is hit by the plane, it is designed to break apart, preventing it from harming the plane and pilot. The damaged parts of the pylon are replaced by course personnel nicknamed "Air Gators". It usually takes a few minutes to replace a pylon. The record for the setup of a replacement pylon is 1 minute 30 seconds, set in 2007. [18]

Champions

Elite/Master Class

SeasonChampionSecondThird
2003 Flag of Hungary.svg Péter Besenyei Flag of Germany.svg Klaus Schrodt Flag of the United States.svg Kirby Chambliss
2004 Flag of the United States.svg Kirby Chambliss Flag of Hungary.svg Péter Besenyei Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Jones
2005 Flag of the United States.svg Mike Mangold Flag of Hungary.svg Péter Besenyei Flag of the United States.svg Kirby Chambliss
2006 Flag of the United States.svg Kirby Chambliss Flag of Hungary.svg Péter Besenyei Flag of the United States.svg Mike Mangold
2007 Flag of the United States.svg Mike Mangold Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Paul Bonhomme Flag of Hungary.svg Péter Besenyei
2008 Flag of Austria.svg Hannes Arch Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Paul Bonhomme Flag of the United States.svg Kirby Chambliss
2009 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Paul Bonhomme Flag of Austria.svg Hannes Arch Flag of Australia (converted).svg Matt Hall
2010 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Paul Bonhomme Flag of Austria.svg Hannes Arch Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Nigel Lamb
2011–2013: not held
2014 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Nigel Lamb Flag of Austria.svg Hannes Arch Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Paul Bonhomme
2015 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Paul Bonhomme Flag of Australia (converted).svg Matt Hall Flag of Austria.svg Hannes Arch
2016 Flag of Germany.svg Matthias Dolderer Flag of Australia (converted).svg Matt Hall Flag of Austria.svg Hannes Arch
2017 Flag of Japan.svg Yoshihide Muroya Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Martin Šonka Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Pete McLeod
2018 Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Martin Šonka Flag of Australia (converted).svg Matt Hall Flag of the United States.svg Michael Goulian
2019

Challenger Class

SeasonChampionPoints leader
2014 Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Petr Kopfstein Flag of France.svg François Le Vot
2015 Flag of France.svg Mikaël Brageot Flag of France.svg Mikaël Brageot
2016 Flag of Germany.svg Florian Bergér Flag of Germany.svg Florian Bergér
2017 Flag of Germany.svg Florian Bergér Flag of Germany.svg Florian Bergér
2018 Flag of Poland.svg Luke Czepiela Flag of Germany.svg Florian Bergér
2019

Most wins

As of 9 February 2019, up to and including the race of Abu Dhabi.
  Active in 2018

Pilots

Current

Master ClassChallenger Class
NationPilotNationPilot
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile Cristian Bolton Flag of France.svg  France Mélanie Astles
Flag of France.svg  France Mikael Brageot Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Florian Berger
Flag of the United States.svg  United States Kirby Chambliss Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong Kenny Chiang
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Matthias Dolderer Flag of the United States.svg  United States Kevin Coleman
Flag of the United States.svg  United States Michael Goulian Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Dario Costa
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Matt Hall Flag of Poland.svg  Poland Luke Czepiela
Flag of France.svg  France Nicolas Ivanoff Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Patrick Davidson
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic Petr Kopfstein Flag of the United States.svg  United States Sammy Mason
Flag of France.svg  France Francois Le Vot Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden Daniel Ryfa
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Pete McLeod Flag of Austria.svg  Austria Patrick Strasser
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan Yoshihide Muroya Flag of France.svg  France Baptiste Vignes
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Ben Murphy Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland Vito Wyprachtiger
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic Martin Sonka
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain Juan Velarde

Former

NationPilotNationPilot
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria Hannes Arch Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Nigel Lamb
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary Péter Besenyei Flag of Spain.svg  Spain Alejandro Maclean
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Paul Bonhomme Flag of the United States.svg  United States Mike Mangold
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Glen Dell Flag of the United States.svg  United States David Martin
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Steve Jones Flag of Russia.svg  Russia Sergey Rakhmanin
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania Jurgis Kairys Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Klaus Schrodt
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Adilson Kindlemann Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands Frank Versteegh
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia Peter Podlunšek

Race locations

CountryLocationRounds in
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Swan River, Perth 9th12th9th2nd
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria Zeltweg Air Base 1st3rd
Red Bull Ring, Spielberg 8th6th2nd
Wiener Neustadt 6th
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Rio de Janeiro 2nd3rd
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Windsor, Ontario 3rd4th
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Beijing 10
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia Rovinj 2nd3rd
Flag of France.svg  France Cannes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 2nd
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Berlin 3rd
EuroSpeedway Lausitz 6th6th7th
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary River Danube, Budapest 2nd2nd6th6th8th7th4th7th64th4th4th4th4th
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland Rock of Cashel 4th
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan Makuhari, Chiba 2nd3rd3rd3rd5th
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia Putrajaya Lake, Putrajaya 3rd
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico Acapulco, Guerrero 11th1
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam 2nd5th
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland Gdynia 4th
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal River Douro, Porto 9th8th5th6th
Lisbon 8th7
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia St. Petersburg 4th2
Sochi 11
Kazan 5th5th3rd
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia -8th
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain Barcelona 2nd5th366th
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland Interlaken, Bern 6th
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden Stockholm 4th4
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Golden Horn, Istanbul 5th4th
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates Mina' Zayid, Abu Dhabi 1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Longleat 5th7th
Kemble 1st
River Thames, London 7th6th
Ascot Racecourse, Ascot 5th5th5th
Flag of the United States.svg  United States Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah 3rd
Reno, Nevada 3rd
San Diego, California 10th2nd2nd2nd
San Francisco, California 7th8th
Detroit, Michigan 3rd
New York City/Jersey City 5th9
Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth 6th7th8th
Indianapolis Motor Speedway 7th8th7th7th
Las Vegas 7th8th8th5

In video games

See also

References

  1. Miller, Alyssa (December 2013). "Pilot Briefing: Red Bull Air Race returns". AOPA Pilot: 36.
  2. "Red Bull Air Race World Championship returns!". Red Bull. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  3. "History of the Red Bull Air Race". Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Press Kit Perth 2008: 9. October 2008.
  4. "History of the Red Bull Air Race". Newsroom, Red Bull Air Race GmbH. 10 January 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
  5. "Red Bull Plane Crashes into River". TheWest.com.au. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  6. Red Bull Air Race cancelled worldwide
  7. City of Windsor, Ontario's website - Mayor Eddie Francis laments cancellation of 2011 Red Bull Air Races
  8. Jason Paur. "Crazy Red Bull Air Races Returning to the Skies in 2014" Wired (magazine) , 9 October 2013. Accessed: 3 November 2013.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Pilots train for Red Bull Air Race" 25 October 2013. Accessed: 3 November 2013. Photos and videos
  11. 1 2 3 4 "The Rules". Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2009. General Press Kit: 14–15. 2009.
  12. "How to Race". Red Bull Air Race Magazine (1): 28. 2014.
  13. http://www.redbullairrace.com/en_US/article/rule-recap-mangold
  14. http://www.redbullairrace.com/en_GB/article/you-have-be-g-limit-or-youre-too-slow
  15. http://www.nywaterway.com/UserFiles/Files/redbull_rulesandprinciples.pdf
  16. 1 2 Lingo, Penny (1 May 2008). "Speed racers". Dan Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 3 May 2008.
  17. "The Air Gates". Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Press Kit Perth 2008: 27–28. October 2008.
  18. 1 2 "Behind the Scenes: Air Gates". Red Bull Air Race Magazine: 32–35. May 2008.
  19. CydoniaX (7 January 2009). "PlayStation Home Content Update Coming This Week". SCE. Retrieved 22 October 2009.