Šonka takes third in Abu Dhabi Air Race

The eight-race Red Bull Air Race World Championship for 2018 has started

UPDATE 04.02.2018 / 08:18 - The Red Bull Air Race Committee has declared a Disqualification for pilot Martin Sonka following a post-race ruling when his raceplane was being inspected in Parc Fermé. It has been deemed that Red Bull Team Sonka made a technical infringement of the rules. For more visit airrace.redbull.com

Czech pilot Martin Šonka finished third in the opening race of the 11th season of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Abu Dhabi. The season will have eight races and end in Asia in November.

In the first round of the race, Šonka beat his countryman Petr Kopfstein in the first duel of two Czech racers in Red Bull history. Kopfstein did not advance to the Round of Eight and finished overall in ninth place at Abu Dhabi.

Šonka beat French pilot François Le Vot in the Round of Eight to get to the Final Four.

The winner after the final four was USA’s Michael Goulian, who logged his first victory since 2009 with a time of 53.695 seconds. Defending World Champion Yoshihide “Yoshi” Muroya was a close second with 53.985 seconds. Martin Šonka’s time of 54.650 was enough for third. The last pilot in the final four was USA’s Kirby Chambliss, finishing the course at 54.768 seconds.

“It was awesome. It’s been a long time coming to get to the second win and my whole team is over the moon,” Goulian said. “Now we need consistency. There are 13 other great pilots in the Red Bull Air Race, and I feel nothing but excitement for the rest of the year."

Šonka said that he needs to work on technical problems if he is to do better. "Every degree of victory is super. … The simple and fast track here also helps. Getting to the podium will be getting harder and harder,” Šonka said.

“We had some the technical problems here. It was still all right in training, but we slowed down in the qualification. The plane did not fly [well] and we could not figure out why. Moreover, because of the new, obligatory and much heavier battery, we are overweight and it is simply a considerable handicap. It was the same today, so with we are not quite happy with the performance, and third place is about the maximum we could have expected," he added.

He had praise for Petr Kopfstein, whom he eliminated in the first round. “Petr was flying fast and clean; he is a very difficult rival. Despite the problems, however, I managed to make a pretty clean flight and advanced further. But it is certainly a pity for our fans, which together we have a lot of. It was very likely that one of us would not continue in the race, and that's what happened. In any case, we know that we now have a lot of work ahead of us. For the second race in France we have to come in better shape,” Šonka said. The second race of the season is at Cannes, France, on April 21 and 22.

The race in Abu Dhabi had ideal racing weather and 50,000 spectators across the weekend for the high-speed, low-altitude sport.

Some of the favorites for 2018 will have to scramble back fast if they want to build momentum for the title. Given their strong starts, Muroya and Šonka appear to be the pilots to beat, but with seven races to go, take nothing for granted, especially with two-time titleholder Chambliss looking good and Goulian in career-best form, race analysts said.

Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship has held more than 80 races around the globe. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision, and skill, according to the race organizers.

World Championship standings after one race:
1. Michael Goulian (USA) 15 points, 2. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 12 pts, 3. Kirby Chambliss 9 (USA) pts, 4. Martin Šonka (CZE) 7 pts, 5. Matt Hall (AUS) 6 pts, 6. Ben Murphy (GBR) 5 pts, 7. François Le Vot (FRA) 4 pts, 8. Mika Brageot (FRA) 3 pts, 9. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 2 pts, 10. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 1 pt, 11. Juan Velarde (ESP) 0, 12. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 0, 13. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 0, 14. Pete McLeod (CAN) 0

Red Bull Air Race 2018 Calendar
Feb. 2-3: Abu Dhabi, UAE
April 21-22: Cannes, France
May 26-27: Europe, location TBA
June 23-24: Budapest, Hungary
Aug. 4-5: Asia, location TBA
Aug. 25-26: Kazan, Russia
Oct. 6-7: Indianapolis, USA
November: Asia, location TBA

Related article:
Red Bull Air Race season starting - Prague.TV, 02.02.2018

For more visit also:
Red Bull Air Race www.redbullairrace.com
Martin Šonka www.martin-sonka.cz
Petr Kopfstein www.kopfstein.com

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