Šonka wins European aerobatics freestyle

The Czech pilot had little time to train after his win and Kazan

Czech pilot Martin Šonka won the gold medal for freestyle at the European Aerobatics Championship held in Jindřichův Hradec. 

This was the third time in a row he won in that discipline in classical acrobatics, he finished in sixth place.

Silver for freestyle went to Alexandre Orlowski and bronze was won by Louis Vanel, both from France. Orlowski won in the classics, followed by Vanel and Russian pilot Mikhail Mamistov.

Before the championship, Šonka did not want to speculate about his expectations. During his training for the championship, an engine cylinder broke during flight, and before the new one arrived from America, he lost time for training.

There was very little time from his previous race. The European Aerobatics Championship started just after he won the Red Bull Air Race in Kazan.

“I have to say that it was really difficult in the last couple of weeks. Moreover, it does not end because next week we are preparing for another air race. The training for acrobatics was, for various reasons, very limited, and I am very happy with how it came out. Not only in freestyle, which I love very much, but also the sixth place in classics under the given conditions is not bad at all. Of course, I could imagine a better placement, but when I consider the circumstances, it is the answer,” Šonka said.

The competition in Jindřichův Hradec, held Sept. 1–8, faced some bad weather during the week. But the program was only shortened on the final day because of the low cloud. “That is a shame because I lost my chance to try to improve my position. But I can not do everything,” Šonka said.

In the freestyle discipline, pilots have limited time to show the best that they can do in the air with their planes.

“I managed to fly the set as I wanted, even though I made a small mistake at the beginning. But I'm glad it finally came out because the fans arrived [for the final day]. In addition, winning the title three times in a row and defending it on home ground is just something special,” Šonka said.

Šonka had only one day to rest as his team is already going to Wiener Neustadt for the last European stop of this year's Red Bull Air Race series.

“It's really tough, there's not much time to stop and exhale and pick up strength. But this is how it is and I have to deal with it. We will do everything with the team to be ready for the race the next weekend. Certainly, a lot of Czech fans will come and it would be nice to have some good results,” Šonka said.

He is in second place overall in the Red Bull rankings for the season following American pilot Michael Goulian, with three races left before the season ends in November. 

Related links
Martin Šonka
Red Bull Air Race

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

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