Martin Šonka comes in fourth in Budapest

Both Czech pilots face penalties in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship

The fourth event of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Budapest eventually ended in disappointment for Czech pilot Martin Šonka. He made his way to the final four with the fastest time of all, but a penalty he disagrees with kept him from the podium. A second Czech pilot, Petr Kopfstein, just missed the cut for the Final Four round.

Kirby Chambliss claimed his first victory since the London race in 2008. He was first into the track of the Final Four and had a time of 1:00.632.

Šonka was third into the track in the final round. He had set the track record earlier in the week and on his run was on track to be the only pilot to get under one minute. However, at Gate 18 he was given a two-second penalty and that saw him drop from first to fourth.

Overall Šonka held onto second place in the eight-race contest for the World Championship. He lags behind first place Japanese pilot Yoshihide Muroyu by two points.

Muroya had the advantage of flying last but was unable to push his plane as hard as he needed. He ended on the podium, but only in third.

In the Round of Eight, which was the qualifier for the Final Four, Šonka had a wing stall in Gate 18. However, he still managed to put in an impressive 1:00.428.

Šonka's aim in the initial Round of 14 was just to qualify. “I did not want to make a mistake and be disqualified, so I just wanted to clear the track. My time was not the fastest, but the result was certain,” he said.

He raced against Peter Podlunsek of Slovenia, who did not start due to technical issues. This meant Šonka did not face any time pressure to move onto the Round of Eight.

The second round brought him a tough opponent in the form of the French pilot Nicolas Ivanov. “Nicolas tends to be unpredictable, but I did it and I managed to fly a quick time against him, even the fastest of all eight pilots. … In the final four, we wanted to please our fans who really came here and to whom we are really grateful for the huge support.”

In the final four, Šonka took a bit hit from penalty. “When I landed, I thought it was a shame I made a mistake. Then we asked for the materials from the judges, and after a thorough study I do not understand exactly what I was penalized for. … Unfortunately, we cannot protest,” he said.

The situation took some of the joy out of his result, which was still good. “When we know that we should have won here and returned to the top standing of the championship … we cannot rejoice. But we definitely will not cry, and in the next race in Kazan we want to prove that we belong higher,” Šonka said.

The second Czech pilot, Petr Kopfstein, failed to advance to the Final Four, also due to a disputed penalty. “"I always try to be really objective, but this time I feel the penalty call was wrong, I couldn't see any sinking in the gate. I feel we were the ones that should have moved on. But we have to live with it and we'll learn from it,” he said.

“Our time was perfect, but that is the decision and we have to live with it and continue in Kazan. We are really happy with our performance because we were much, much faster than Kirby Chambliss in the Round of Eight. There were still some things we could have fixed in the Final Four, but we didn't get the chance. Overall we are super happy with our performance,” he said.

The next race will take place July 22 and 23 in Kazan, Russia.

The next race close to Czech Republic will take place September 16 and 17, EuroSpeedway Lausitz, Germany - for tickets click here.

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