Set against the backdrop of Porto’s ancient architecture, the city’s Red Bull Air Race debut in 2007 drew thousands of spectators to the sun-drenched beaches. The 2017 stop will mark the final racetrack over water this season, and the trajectory over the River Douro is likely to be twisting and tricky. While current pilots Kirby Chambliss of the USA and Matt Hall of Australia have captured podium spots in Porto (2008 and 2009, respectively), neither they nor any of the other 2017 contenders has ever clinched a win in Portugal’s second-largest city.
Following Porto, tension will be high as the 25-meter Air Gates rise on the infield of the Lausitzring. For the second season in a row, the 370-kmh showdown at the oval will be the last in European skies before the World Championship accelerates to its climax in the USA. In 2016, the Australian Hall edged out Germany’s own Matthias Dolderer for the race. While the German went on to secure the World Championship, he’s now more keen than ever to claim a home triumph as he strives to defend his title. The stop at the speedway that hosts the DTM (German Touring Car Championship) and Superbike World Championship is also a homecoming for reigning Challenger Cup winner Florian Bergér, who won there last year.
The 2017 Red Bull Air Race season kicked off in Abu Dhabi, UAE on 10-11 February, where Czech pilot Martin Šonka earned his first race win to take the early-season lead in the standings.