Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Red Bull Air Race 2014: Worth the Wait

After a three-year hiatus, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship came back in 2014 with dramatic action.

It all started when twelve of the world’s best pilots reunited in February for the season opener in Abu Dhabi. The new rules, which mandated standardization of engines and propellers, were created to level the playing field and to make the action tighter – and they did.

Fans were able to see the action at eight locations on three continents. Venues like England’s Ascot Racecourse and the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria completely sold out, and at the race in Gdynia, Poland – the officials had to close access to the beach viewing when they reached the mandated civic limit of 130,000. Now, that’s a crowd!

Other interesting venues included two in the USA – both racetracks owned by Bruton Smith; Texas Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. While the Texas race was exciting and fun – though hot and humid, the Las Vegas race was sidelined by incredibly high winds which made the pylons unstable and the fans disappointed.

This year, the competition was closer than ever and made even small mistakes resulting in penalties much more costly over the season. It was exciting racing right through to the season finale at Red Bull’s home in Spielberg, Austria.

In the end, Britain's Nigel Lamb became only the sixth Champion in Red Bull Air Race World Championship history. At the wire, he beat local hero, Hannes Arch of Austria and Britain's Paul Bonhomme.
By finishing second, Lamb was able to amass enough points - after Hannes Arch ended up in fourth place due to penalties.

"It's just amazing," said Lamb, "I feel very lucky because I didn't think that my time was even good enough to get on the podium. It's an amazing feeling. It's a great day. It's an indescribable feeling."
Nigel Lamb flying through the Pylons at the finale in Austria

Nigel Lamb – Red Bull World Champion 2014

Nigel is well known in the Aerobatic Competition and Airshow Worlds. Born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), he was inspired to become a pilot by his father – a Royal Air Force Fighter Pilot in World War II. Nigel joined the Rhodesian Air Force and became qualified in Jets and Helicopters. Leaving the Air Force in 1980, he settled in England flying for the Marlboro Aerobatic Team.

An eight time British Unlimited Aerobatic Champion, he was a member of the British Team in three World Aerobatic and two Europe Championships.

He has also flown in several movies including a favorite of mine, Dark Blue World. He flew the Spitfire in some pretty incredible scenes in that movie. He also fly a P-51 Mustang in Hart’s War and was the Chief Pilot in Flyboys.

He is one of the few people I know who flies in so many different genres of aviation – from warbirds to jets to helicopters to competition to airshows to movies to Red Bull. That is an interesting career.

We congratulate Nigel on his hard fought win – and wish him the best of luck again next year.

Final Preparation for his Championship Winning Flight 

World Championship (final): 
1. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 62 points, 
2. Hannes Arch (AUT) 53, 
3. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 51, 
4. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 42, 
5. Pete McLeod (CAN) 38, 
6. Matt Hall (AUS) 33, 
7. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 21, 
8. Martin Sonka (CZE) 18, 
9. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 10, 
10. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 7, 
11. Peter Besenyei (HUN) 6, 
12. Michael Goulian (USA) 3;
2015 Race Calendar
1. Abu Dhabi (13/14 February)
2. Chiba, Japan (16/17 May)
3. Sochi, Russia* (30 /31 May)
4. Budapest, Hungary (4/5 July)
5. Ascot, Great Britain (15/16 August)
6. Spielberg, Austria (5/6 September)
7. Fort Worth, Texas, United States (26/27 September)
8. Las Vegas, Nevada, United States (17/18 October)
*To be confirmed

Photos used by Permission from Red Bull Air Races