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Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2010 takes off in Abu Dhabi

Paul Bonhomme - Abu Dhabi 2008

World’s fastest growing motorsport with 8 races on 5 continents heads to new locations in 6th season.
The 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes off in Abu Dhabi on March 26/27 and then circles the globe with eight races on a record five continents this year with a highlight-packed calendar that includes new locations in New York City and Lisbon along with eagerly awaited returns to Rio de Janeiro and Germany. Britain’s Paul Bonhomme will be looking to defend his championship in an even faster field of 15 pilots from 13 nations after a thrilling battle last year against Austria’s Hannes Arch watched by millions.

Red Bull Air Race circles the Globe

Abu Dhabi will host the season opener of the high-speed, low-altitude championship for the sixth straight year. Bonhomme, who won the 2008 race over the turquoise waters in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, and Arch, who won there last year, are the favourites. But the other 13 teams worked hard in the off-season and will be looking to de-throne Bonhomme as well.

The second stop just three weeks later is in Perth, Australia on April 17/18, where an enormous crowd is expected for Matt Hall. The former Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot finished an astonishing third overall last year in his rookie season. The third race is in Rio de Janeiro on May 8/9. The first race in Rio in 2007 was the biggest single sporting event in Brazil’s history with 1 million spectators, a record that could be surpassed this year with a Brazilian pilot entering the championship for the first time. Adilson Kindlemann is one of two rookies this season.

The championship then shifts to North America for a race in Windsor, Canada on the Detroit River on June 5/6 before moving east to New York City, where the pilots will battle it out in front of Manhattan’s spectacular skyline on June 19/20. The race then moves across the Atlantic to Europe with three stops. Germany will host a race at the EuroSpeedway track in Lausitz near Berlin on July 7/8, the only race in 2010 that won’t be flown over water and where spectators will be able to watch all the action from permanent grandstand seating. Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic, this year’s other rookie, is counting on thousands of fans from the nearby Czech Republic to cheer him on. The championship returns to Budapest, Hungary for a seventh straight year on August 19/20 and concludes in Lisbon, Portugal for the season finale on September 4/5.

Staging a race in New York City is a dream come true

“It’s going to be a fantastic season with eight races on five continents,” said Red Bull Air Race CEO Bernd Loidl. “We’ll be returning to many of the traditional locations where we’ve had such classic races in the past such as Abu Dhabi, Perth, Rio, Windsor and Budapest as well as racing in some spectacular new places like New York, the EuroSpeedway track in Germany and Lisbon. Staging a race in New York City is a dream come true.”

The 2009 battle was the most exciting ever with Bonhomme coming from behind to just beat Arch with a victory in the season finale in Barcelona in front of 800,000 spectators. “I’m really looking forward to the this year,” said Bonhomme, who has won more races than anyone (11) but finished a close second in 2007 and 2008. “We’ve worked hard on improving the engine and hopefully we’ll have even more power.”

Arch, the first European to win the title, put up a gallant fight against Bonhomme last year to defend his championship to the delight of millions of fans who followed the race on television broadcasts around the world. The Bonhomme v Arch battle is set to continue with the Austrian determined to win back the title. “The pressure will be on Bonhomme this time around,” Arch said.

Other pilots who are expected to make life difficult for Bonhomme and Arch will include Americans Kirby Chambliss, the 2006 champion, and Michael Goulian, who won his first race last year with a thrilling victory in front of 650,000 spectators in Budapest. France’s Nicolas Ivanoff, who was fourth last year, and Britain’s Nigel Lamb (fifth in 2010) along with Hungary’s Peter Besenyei and Germany’s Matthias Dolderer, a rookie last year who came third in the final race in Barcelona, also figure to be in the hunt for victories and championship points. Sergey Rakhmanin of Russia, Alejandro Maclean of Spain, Yoshi Muroya of Japan and Canada’s Pete McLeod have also worked hard in the off-season to improve their teams’ performance.

In 2009, 3.5 million spectators attended the races and 270 million followed on television broadcasts around the globe. In the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, the world’s 15 best race pilots fly close to the ground at speeds reaching 370 km/hr (230 mph), while enduring forces of up to 12 Gs as they navigate unique and demanding race tracks made up of 20 metre high inflatable air gates.