The Cross-Border Classic: Red Bull Air Race Windsor Preview
Windsor, Ontario is the southernmost city in all of Canada. However, it tends to be dwarfed by its much larger American cousin: Detroit.
However, the tide will shift for one weekend as the aviation and motorsport community focus their attention on to Windsor as it plays host to the third round of the Red Bull Air Race World Series.
The first race in Canada also has the first Canadian pilot: rookie Pete McLeod whose base is a two hour drive Northeast in London, Ontario. This is quite literally his home race.
2009 So Far.
The 2009 season has been anything but ordinary. 2008 world series champion Hannes Arch has been keeping his form on and has effectively broken the Madden Curse that has plagued Red Bull Air Race champions before. He made a dream start at his home race - noted as such because of his sponsorship with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority - by winning the qualifying round, setting the track record, and winning the race; a Red Bull Air Race hat trick.
The Austrian wasn't able to capitalize on that in San Diego after hitting a bird in the final round and incurring a two-second penalty. Still though, Arch could be on his way to his second successive championship.
Fellow podium-mates Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain, and Nicolas Ivanoff of France are hot on Arch's trail with the latter having won the race in San Diego while the former has had to stand on the second step twice out of two races. For Ivanoff, the win in San Diego was a big step since he has upgraded to an Edge 540 for 2009 and put away his old Extra 300SR from last season.
Further down the field, the American pilots of Mike Mangold, Kirby Chambliss, and Michael Goulian are all off form with the latter having not scored a single point to date. Mangold so far is the only one who is faring well by being tied for sixth place with 10 points alongside Hungarian Peter Besenyei and Russian Sergey Rakhmanin.
South African sophomore Glen Dell has finally scored his first career points in the Red Bull Air Race in the last round after taking an impressive ninth place and three points in San Diego.
The four rookies this year aren't doing too badly this year with Matt Hall of Australia being the most impressive of the bunch. Hall has come fifth in the first two races of the season and this was done by flying clean races and having a team behind him who can keep his MXS in top notch.
Matthias Dolderer of Germany is impressing the fans after he took his first point in his first ever Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi. He wasn't able to reproduce on his success in San Diego, but Windsor should be interesting since the track has a few similarities to Abu Dhabi.
The German has a new and interesting sponsor in the form of men's lifestyle magazine Playboy. A photoshoot occurred recently with two Playboy bunnies and they can be found on Dolderer's Flickr page.
Yoshi Muroya of Japan has been having a bit of a hard time and can't seem to yet find his cool. He was able to take his first points, but he wasn't able to put in clean runs.
Windsor will be Pete McLeod's home race and after plenty of modifications made to his Edge 540 after San Diego, the Canadian will be looking to take some points. McLeod has been last in his first two races but with the modifications, he's hoping to make the third time a charm.
The Windsor Track
Windsor is not alien to the Red Bull Air Race. Detroit hosted the third round last year and about 15% of the race was in Windsor.
The track in Windsor is a mirror-image of the 2008 Detroit track. The pilot will enter the track and immediately make a turn to the United States where he will navigate the chicane in a slalom formation.
After that, the pilot will make a left turn back to Canada through a pair of blue gates, encounter a quadro - which will be on the border - where he will fly knife-edge through the first time towards the United States, execute a 270-degree turn back into Canada, and fly back into the United States.
Once the quadro is finished, the pilot has two more blue gates left - the first one in the United States where he will fly level through the gates, then he'll make a right turn to go through the final blue gates which are located in Canada, and finally go through the Start/Finish gate where he'll make a vertical turning manoeuvre and fly the track a second time but this time in the opposite way!
Last year's winner was Kirby Chambliss who set a very fast time in the range of 1:10. While the track is slightly different from last year, Chambliss' time will be considered as optimal.
For an image as to what Windsor will look like, the website for the Red Bull Air Race has provided a track map that can be seen below.
Can Hannes Arch continue his domination? Will Paul Bonhomme be able to finally stand on the top step or will someone else outwit them both? Can Pete McLeod, the hometown hero, get his first points or better? In one week, we'll find out...
Stay tuned for the 13th and 14th of June as Sheiban Shakeri of bleacherreport.com reports from Windsor.
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