Šonka wins in Kazan

The Czech pilot has won two in a row in the Red Bull Air Race

Czech pilot Martin Šonka won in the Red Bull Air Race in Kazan, Russia. It was the fifth race in the current Red Bull Air Race Championship season.

The win came as surprise, as Šonka finished 12th in qualifying. He recovered and had the fastest times in all three rounds of the race, including a winning time of 0:52.123 in the final round.

American pilot Michael Goulian came in second and fellow American Kirby Chambliss was third.

Kazan was Šonka’s second win in a row after Budapest and second win since upgrading his plane with new cylinders. He moved to second place overall in the championship standings with 49 points behind Goulien, who has 55 points.

Czech pilot Petr Kopfstein came in ninth in Kazan, and in the overall standings is in 12th place.

After the poor qualification round, Šonka’s team investigated the cause. “Given the qualifying round, this victory is incredibly valuable. In the evening we analyzed every detail for several hours, and we could not figure out how to speed up for a long time. But the job paid off; we managed to get the jigsaw puzzle together, and I'm proud of it,” Šonka explained.

In the opening Round of 14, Šonka faced Spanish pilot Juan Velarde, who had some of the best qualifying times. But Velarde has never beaten Šonka in a head-to-head match, and this time proved no different.

In the second round, Šonka faced British pilot Ben Murphy and flew an even faster time, beating his competitor by 0.80 seconds. This opened the way for his victory in the Round of Four. “I'm really happy. It was one of the toughest races for me and for the team. Both good and bad experiences from previous races helped us. It was really a fight,” Šonka said.

He says is looking ahead to the next race, and not worrying about the six points that he lags from first place overall.

“I'm not doing this now. There is another big challenge ahead of us and we are already starting to think of the race in Wiener Neustadt, where many Czech fans will come. This is the main thing for us now. It doesn’t make sense to waste energy on anything else,” he said.

Immediately after the race in Kazan, he has the European Championship in Jindřichův Hradec, where he defends the title of vice-champion in classical acrobatics and the freestyle title.

When he finishes that he moves to Austria for the next Red Bull Air Race. The season then goes to Indianapolis in October and wraps up in November in Fort Worth. Both cities are in the US.

Last year, Šonka finished the Red Bull Air Race Championships in second place overall, trailing just four points behind Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya.


Related links
Red Bull Air Race
Martin Šonka
Petr Kopfstein

Next Red Bull Air Race
Wiener Neustadt, Austria Sept. 15-16

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