Yoshihide Muroya of Japan poses for a photograph prior to the second stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in San Diego, United States on April 13, 2017.

Chiba (JAPAN) – Japan’s Red Bull Air Race super fans are charged with anticipation as the World Championship returns to Chiba for the third year in a row. The only stop in Eastern Asia became an instant favorite in 2015, when 120,000 spectators sold out the viewing area at Makuhari Beach; and last year, fans were delirious when Japanese pilot Yoshihide “Yoshi” Muroya clinched a landmark win at home. In a 2017 season where no one has emerged as the overall favorite after two hotly contested stops, the racing world will be focused breathlessly on Chiba this June 3-4.

With the season’s longest racetrack reconfigured to pose new challenges, plus Tokyo Bay winds that defy prediction, the race in Chiba demands power, precision and performance. Of course the cheers will be most ecstatic for Muroya, who flies number 31 for Team Falken. His 2016 victory – the first race win of his career – rocketed the Fukushima-based pilot to rockstar status. His second triumph came just weeks ago at the second stop of 2017, when he outflew a Final Four lineup including reigning World Champion Matthias Dolderer (GER) to claim top honors in San Diego, USA.

Now as Muroya looks to pull off a rare double repeat – two consecutive wins in a season, plus back-to-back victories at home – he finds himself in podium position (third) in the World Championship standings for the first time. One slim point separates him from an ever-confident Dolderer in second place, while six points stand between Japan’s hero and overall leader Martin Šonka (CZE), who won the season opener in Abu Dhabi. Names like Velarde (ESP), Podlunšek (SLO), McLeod (CAN) and Ivanoff (FRA) are also tightly clustered near the top, and every one of the 14 Master Class pilots is in the World Championship points. With six races to go, there’s still everything to play for, making Chiba a potentially pivotal showdown.

Red Bull Air Race 2017 Calendar:
February 10-11:         Abu Dhabi, UAE
April 15-16:                San Diego, USA
June 3-4:                    Chiba, Japan
July 1-2:                      Budapest, Hungary
July 22-23:                  Kazan, Russia
September 2-3:         Porto, Portugal
September 16-17:     Lausitz, Germany
October 14-15:           Indianapolis, USA