Martin Šonka wins Air Race in Budapest

The Czech pilot is back in good form after changing cylinders

Czech pilot Martin Šonka scored his first win of the season and Petr Kopfstein again came in ninth place at the Red Bull Air Race in Budapest on June 23–24.

France's Mika Brageot was second, Australia's Matt Hall third and America's Michael Goulian fourth. Goulian lost seven seconds due to penalties, knocking him out of first place and putting him in the last of the Final Four.

This was the third win in Šonka's career, following two in 2017. He finished in second place last season, and the victory in this race puts him third place for the current season, trailing leader Matt Hall and second-place Michael Goulian, with the eight-race season now half over.

This was the first time Šonka was flying after changing the cylinders in his plane's engine. Unlike in his previous races this season, he had no technical problems or penalties this race.

Šonka had previously stated that he hoped for a good showing in Budapest because the crowd would have a lot of Czech fans, and that turned out to be the case.

“It's an unreal feeling. The race in Budapest is exceptional, for us it is like Monte Carlo in Formula One. And to win here in front of a huge crowd of Czech fans is hard to describe. It's really very emotional, special. Before the race we had to work a lot; we changed the cylinders. We had to make sure that everything worked like it should. Each team member worked really hard for such a result. And it paid off,” Šonka said.

Now that his plane is in good condition, Šonka said he hopes he can put the bad start of the season behind him.

“This is a very important victory because Matt Hall and Mike Goulian jumped ahead when I had technical problems but now I am catching up. At the same time, we have all shown that I can still be very fast. But we know we have some things to improve. But now we will rest a little and we will enjoy this special victory. The whole team deserves it,” Šonka said.

Šonka had an easy start in the race in Budapest, as his opponent in the Round of 14, Matthias Dolderer, did not fly due to medical reasons. Šonka faced French pilot François Le Vot in the Round of Eight and beat him by more than half a second.

Petr Kopfstein of Team Spielberg ended in ninth place for the fourth race in a row, after doing well in the training rounds and qualifications.

Kopfstein did not get out of the Round of 14 due to his slow time on the course. He was beaten by France's Nicolas Ivanoff.

“We were super excited after qualifying and we knew we could fly quicker. I heard a lot of over-Gs and I heard Nicolas' time was not the fastest one. I knew I did not have to push really hard, so I think I relaxed too much, which was not the plan, but it happened again. We have a ninth place, which is super disappointing for our team. But we have to get up and get ready for Kazan,” Kopfstein said.

“We are taking the race plane back to the Czech Republic and big modifications are coming up after this race. I think we'll get even faster and stronger for the next stop. We were probably too conservative in the race. I tried to change a lot of things, but it happened again.” he added.

“When I say this is a huge disappointment for our team, it's a weak word,” he said.

In the overall ranking, he has scored two points again and stays in 12th place in the season.

ČT Sport will broadcast a recording of the race on Monday, June 25, at 6 am.

The Red Bull Air Race series will continue Aug. 25 and 26 in Kazan, Russia.

Related links
Red Bull Air Race
Martin Šonka
Petr Kopfstein

Next Race close to Prague, Czech Republic
Wiener Neustadt, Austria Sept. 15-16

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