- Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain performs during the training for the sixth stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, United States on September 5, 2014. Photographer Credit Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool
Britain’s Paul Bonhomme will be looking to extend his lead at the top of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship with a win in Chiba, Japan while local hero Yoshihide Muroya is hoping a new Edge 540 V3 airplane will help him get back on the podium following the anticipated typhoon ‘Noul’ passing prior to the racing weekend.
Yoshihide Muroya of Japan prepares to take off during the qualifying of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Photographer Credit Balasz Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool
CHIBA, Japan – The Red Bull Air Race will make its eagerly awaited debut in Japan on May 16/17 when the world’s fastest motorsport series moves to Eastern Asia for the first time. Two-time World Champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain, who won the season opener in Abu Dhabi, will be looking for a second straight victory over the man-made beach at the Makuhari Seaside Park in Chiba, a city with a proud aviation tradition and the location of Japan’s first civilian airfield in 1912. Japan’s own Yoshihide Muroya is hopeful that his new Edge 540 V3 airplane will help him against Bonhomme and the other 12 pilots.
The anticipated typhoon, which is unusual for this time of year, has given teams more time to work on their planes until the scheduled training takes place on Friday. The typhoon is expected to pass by and at this stage will not affect any racing on the weekend. Steve Jones, Race Director of the Red Bull Air Race explains. “The track in Chiba is unique and we’ve not seen a track like this before. One factor is the weather, but the typhoon won’t affect any racing conditions on the weekend as the forecast is clear. So the pilots will need to make use of this time to plan their racing strategy. Not only is it one lap but it also has some very long straights between the Gates. Flying efficiently in difficult conditions is what can make a Champion.”
Bonhomme, the Red Bull Air Race World Champion in 2009 and 2010, will have his work cut out for him with a hard-charging pack of pilots including defending Champion Nigel Lamb of Britain breathing down his back. Australia’s Matt Hall, who was a close second at the first race of 2015 in Abu Dhabi, Canada’s Pete McLeod (3), Austria’s Hannes Arch (4) and Muroya (6) were all in top form in the season opener and are likely to be among those battling for spots on the podium.
“I love Japan because the culture and language is so different that you definitely know you’re away from home,” said Bonhomme, who earlier in his flying career won a gold and silver medal at the FAI World Grand Prix aerobatics series events in Japan in 2001 and 2002.
Muroya, who got a career-best third place in the second stop of the 2014 season in Rovinj, Croatia, will be hoping for another top result in the second stop of the 2015 season. It’s his fourth season in the Red Bull Air Race and he has been looking forward to bringing the sport home since his debut race in 2009.
2015 Race Calendar:
Abu Dhabi, UAE (13/14 February)
Chiba, Japan (16/17 May)
Rovinj, Croatia (30/31 May)
Budapest, Hungary (4/5 July)
Ascot, United Kingdom (15/16 August)
Spielberg, Austria (5/6 September)
Fort Worth, Texas, United States (26/27 September)
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States (17/18 October)
World Championship Standings:
1. Bonhomme (12 points), 2. Hall (9), 3. McLeod (7), 4. Arch (5), 5. Lamb (4), 6. Muroya (3), 7. Besenyei (2), 8. Ivanoff (1), 9. Dolderer, 10. Sonka, 11. Le Vot, 12. Goulian, 13. Velarde, 14. Chambliss