Red Bull Air Race Budapest: Perspectives of a Hometown Hero

Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IAugust 6, 2009

The European rounds of the Red Bull Air Race will begin in a fortnight with Budapest being the first of the final three rounds followed by Porto, Portugal and Barcelona, Spain.

The Hungarian capital is the proverbial home to the sport and has hosted it ever since the inception of the Red Bull Air Race in 2003. For that, it has become the most prestigious race on the calendar.

Budapest is also home to the grandfather of the Red Bull Air Race, Peter Besenyei.

Besenyei is a world-renowned airshow pilot and was approached by Red Bull in 2001 to help develop a sport that would eventually become what is the Air Race today.

He has played an integral role in the development of the sport, such as helping out in developing the rules, help out with picking the most promising rookies for the next season, as well as being a competitor.

However, when it comes to the sport itself, Besenyei has not had an easy time of late. With new equipment under him—an MXS for 2009—Besenyei has had some bad luck, including a very close call before the last round in Windsor when the Hungarian's aircraft lost oil pressure while en route to a photo shoot over Niagara Falls. Besenyei had to make a forced-landing in a wheat field near a local airport in rural Ontario, and while the aircraft was too damaged for the Hungarian to take part in the third round in Windsor, Besenyei was lucky and walked away.

In the run-up to Budapest, Besenyei talked to Bleacher Report about his prospects for the next round, his MXS, and about the modifications made to his aircraft:

Sheiban Shakeri: How is your MXS after your close call in Canada? Have any modifications been done to it during the repairs?

Peter Besenyei: The plane is just about to arrive to Salzburg (Austria) this week, and it will be reassembled over there. The branding has to be done, and it will be ready for the race. The plane is really good and all the weak points are fixed and the modifications are all about power. As the aircraft has a new engine with not more than 10 hours in it, it has to be (broken) in and I just hope that we will have enough time for it.

SS: How optimistic are you ahead of Budapest now that you have an aircraft that appears to be competitive?

PB: I'm always optimistic, but realistic as well. The plane is really good but (it) all depends on the engine, and as long as I haven't (flown) it I do not know how powerful it is. Of course, I'll try to do my best and fulfill the expectations of the Hungarian supporters and my own as well.

SS: You've never won your home race since the Air Race became a world series. Will you be doing anything different this time around to make it to the top step of the podium?

PB: The Budapest race is always special and harder than any other because of the more pressure and the huge number of media stuff. On the other hand, it is definitely the most exciting thing to fly in front of homeland crowd and probably the most beautiful scene. But as told before, the main point is always the engine, so I do it like I do it always, no tricks it just has to be a nice and safe the podium.

Indeed, Besenyei's last victory was in Monument Valley, Utah, in 2007. With his recent spat of bad luck and a close call behind him, Besenyei has the potential to bring in a good result as was seen with him taking a fourth place finish in San Diego, the last race he participated in.