Paul Bonhomme has never had an easy time in second place. He was second overall in 2007, second overall in 2008, and second in the first two races of 2009. The Brit just couldn't add that extra amount of stamina to propel him to number one.
The first round of the Red Bull Air Race in Windsor involved only three pilots as opposed to five. Yoshi Muroya and Peter Besenyei did not race this past weekend due to safety issues with the former and an emergency landing in a wheat field with the latter earlier this week.
It was down to Matthias Dolderer, Glen Dell, and Sergey Rakhmanin. Dell was first to go and put in all he had to book himself a spot. Up next was Dolderer and what looked like it could be a respectable time, albeit with a two second penalty, the German got disqualified because of unsafe flying. This disqualification guaranteed a spot for Dell and Rakhmanin in the next round of the Top 12.
Times In The Wild Card Round (Italicized advance to the Top 12):
- Sergey Rakhmanin (RUS) - MXS: 1:12.32
- Glen Dell (RSA) - Edge 540: 1:14.73
- Matthias Dolderer (GER) - Edge 540: DSQ
The Top 12 was an interesting round as it featured Canadian Pete McLeod take his first championship point after two dismal rounds where he ended up 15th and last. With this round, McLeod was able to get himself into 11th, second to last, and take the final world championship point available. I've never heard so much cheering for someone who got a second-to-last place finish!
Further up the field, Nicolas Ivanoff appeared to make a Safey Climb Out (SCO) after the quadro, but pulled back into the track. He received four seconds in penalties which also included a two-second penalty for flying too high (FTH).
Championship rivals Hannes Arch and Paul Bonhomme were at it again as they took the top two spots with qualifying session winner Kirby Chambliss close on their heels.
A short scare for the American as he was investigated for what appeared to be flying over the speed limit when entering the track. Eventually, Chambliss was cleared and flew in the next round.
Michael Goulian finally got out of a points funk after putting in a disciplined flight and ending up fourth in the Top 12.
Top 12 Times (Italicized move into the Super Eight)
- Hannes Arch (AUT) - Edge 540: 1:09.31 (no penalties)
- Paul Bonhomme (GBR) - Edge 540: 1:09.47 (no penalties)
- Kirby Chambliss (USA) - Edge 540: 1:10.11 (no penalties)
- Michael Goulian (USA) - Edge 540: 1:11.06 (no penalties)
- Mike Mangold (USA) - Edge 540: 1:11.25 (no penalties)
- Nigel Lamb (GBR) - MXS: 1:12.09 (+ 2 sec. IKF)
- Matt Hall (AUS) - MXS: 1:12.35 (no penalties)
- Sergey Rakhmanin (RUS) - MXS: 1:13.77 (no penalties)
- Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) - Edge 540: 1:14.45 (+2 sec. IKF, +2 sec. FTH)
- Alejandro Maclean (ESP) - MXS: 1:15.59 (+2 sec. FTH, +2 sec. IKF)
- Pete McLeod (CAN) - Edge 540: 1:16.48 (+2 sec. IKF)
- Glen Dell (RSA) - Edge 540: 1:18.87 (+2 sec. FTH, +2 sec. FTH)
Super Eight Round
This round was very interesting to say the least. Everybody save for Bonhomme got a penalty in some form or another, and gate touches here were rampant!
Matt Hall appeared to be improving on his form, but his confidence must have gone into overconfidence as he not only hit the start/finish gate at the beginning of the race, but also rammed into the quadro and had to SCO.
Nigel Lamb cannot get a break on the border. After a harsh disqualification on the other side of the river in Detroit last year, the Brit appeared to have put those jitters to rest, but at the same time, he made a course deviation and was disqualified.
Michael Goulian also had a tough time after touching a gate in the quadro and with pieces of fabric clinging to the fuselage, he had to SCO as well.
Mike Mangold, even after a gate touching (TAG) penalty, was able to make it into the final four with Bonhomme, Arch, and Chambliss. This was the first time that Americans made it into the Final Four all season as well as the first time that it was dominated only by Edge 540's.
Super Eight Times (Italicized Move Forward to the Final Four)
- Paul Bonhomme (GBR) - Edge 540: 1:08.61 (No penalties)
- Hannes Arch (AUT) - Edge 540: 1:11.13 (+2 sec. IKF)
- Kirby Chambliss (USA) - Edge 540: 1:11.33 (+2 sec. FTH)
- Mike Mangold (USA) - Edge 540: 1:18.61 (+6 sec. TAG)
- Sergey Rakhmanin (RUS) - MXS: 1:22.93 (+2 sec. FTH, +2 sec. IKF, +6 sec. TAG)
- Michael Goulian (USA) - Edge 540: SCO
- Matt Hall (AUS) - MXS: SCO
- Nigel Lamb (GBR) - MXS: DSQ
The Final Four
The Final Four this season has had seven different pilots compete in it, but there's two things that are consistent: Hannes Arch and Paul Bonhomme. With those two in the finals, it looks they had some stiff competition against Kirby Chambliss who had won the qualifying round.
The final four round would also typically be the round where the flying would be perfect and no penalties would be given. Then again, who said that finals have to be consistent?
With Arch and Mangold each getting two-second penalties, with the Austrian out in front, it looked like Chambliss might be able to squeak a win but remember, the Brit has been in second place all season and he hates playing second-fiddle!
Bonhomme flew in and put a very consistent time of 1:08.16 with no penalties. It was the fastest time of the day, but not of the weekend. That honour still goes to Kirby Chambliss.
The Texan flew in next, but after taking a two-second IKF penalty his hopes were dashed of a win, and he took the third step on the podium. This was also the American's first appearance on the podium since Porto last year.
Times in the Final Four (Italicized denotes winner)
- Paul Bonhomme (GBR) - Edge 540: 1:08.16
- Hannes Arch (AUT) - Edge 540: 1:09.31
- Kirby Chambliss (USA) - Edge 540: 1:10.19
- Mike Mangold (USA) - Edge 540: 1:12.92
With that, the Red Bull Air Race goes into a summer holiday as the next race will be in Budapest, Hungary. Budapest has been equated to the Monaco Grand Prix of the Red Bull Air Race and with a tight track and a starting gate denoted by the famous Chain Bridge, anything can happen. Until then, it's bye for now!