Besenyei wins wild west Red Bull Air Race
Peter Besenyei (Team Red Bull) beat Paul Bonhomme (Team Matador) in a spine-tingling Red Bull Air Race showdown at Monument Valley in the United States on Saturday, flying through an obstacle course just a few dozen feet above the rugged terrain of the iconic Western setting long used by Hollywood filmmakers. Besenyei completed his flawless run at speeds up to 250 mph and forces of up to 10G through the spectacular eight Air Gate course straddling the Utah-Arizona border at the Navajo Tribal Park in a time of 00:59.87 minutes to edge out Bonhomme, who trailed by 0,97 seconds through the circuit made treacherous by the 5,200-foot (1,600 metre) altitude.
Jones out of the race
British pilot Steve Jones escaped injury in the quarter-finals after crashing heavily into an Air Gate just a few feet above the ground, an incident that left his plane slightly damaged and forced him to retire.
Local Hero brings home Third place
In the consolation race for third place, Mike Mangold (Team Cobra) of USA beat Kirby Chambliss (Team Red Bull) of USA. The stop in Monument Valley, the third leg of the 11-race Red Bull Air Race World Series, was the first of two U.S. races and it was the first race held over land after the first two legs staged over water at Abu Dhabi and Rio de Janeiro. The next stop is in Istanbul on June 1 and 2.
Images courtesy of Sports and News.
Hot off of his performance in Rio, Paul Bonhomme is yet again the man to beat after Friday’s Qualification round, edging out Peter Besenyei by .90 seconds and Kirby Chambliss by 1.85 seconds.
My friend Mike Goulian had an unfortunate mechanical error with his airspeed indicator, which only allowed him to make one pass in qualification. Here is what he said about it:
“Unfortunately it wasn’t problem of my own doing. The air speed indicator wasn’t working. For some reason they decided not to let us do the first run. So all my job was to make sure I was there for the Saturday for the race. I went out there and just did a leisurely pace and put the airplane solidly in the pack for tomorrow. It’s a shame I didn’t really get a chance to see how fast I could fly. I was just out there taking a cruise to make sure I got into top 12. It’s hard. How much do you back off? I backed off just enough. Now that everyone’s flying very close times you can’t back up too much. I could have easily have flown a 1:01. I’m happy with being able to crank up in the morning.”
This is a reprint of Thursday’s RBAR Newsletter:
Besenyei rides western fairy tale
Peter Besenyei (Team Red Bull) of Hungary set the pace in Thursday’s training ahead of Friday’s qualifying session for the Red Bull Air Race World Series at Monument Valley, completing a difficult course against the breathtaking western scenery ahead of championship leader Paul Bonhomme of Britain (Team Matador) and 2005 champion Mike Mangold of the United States (Team Cobra). Beseneyei, who won the season opener at Abu Dhabi, is in third in the standings behind Bonhomme and Mangold and said he was quickly adapting to the thin air, the 5,200-foot altitude that has posed special challenges to the 13 pilots.
"It’s getting better with each training session and I was feeling more comfortable," said Besenyei, a national hero in Hungary who was runner-up in both 2005 and 2006 after his near flawless run through the slalom course just a few dozen feet above the surface at speeds of up to 250 mph. "It’s a very impressive circuit. The conditions are difficult but they’re the same for everyone. It almost feels like you’re in a fairy tale flying here."
Iconic western setting
The race in Monument Valley, an iconic western setting that has served as a backdrop for scores of films and commercials over the last half century, marks the first time in this Red Bull Air Race World Series season that the pilots are flying over land rather than water. The awe-inspiring vistas have been included in films from John Wayne’s 1938 classic "Stagecoach" and Stanley Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey" to Steven Spielberg’s "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Thelma and Louise". Even Tom Hanks halted his long cross-country run in front of the red-hued buttes of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in "Forrest Gump." The rugged terrain has also long been utilized by advertisers as a backdrop for the macho Marlboro Man image.
Picture courtesy of Christian Pondella (Red Bull).
Courtesy of my good friend Mike Shore who is on location in Monument Valley this week, here are a few pictures of yesterday’s practice sessions!
Images courtesy of Jörg Mitter (Red Bull).
It appears that the original runway has been widened and extended. Have a look at this satellite imagery (courtesy of Google Maps) where you can see the original strip was partially pavement and dirt.
Red Bull Air Racer Frank Versteegh has the very first images from Monument Valley posted today! There are only three of them so far, but it is a small taste of the beautiful imagery that is sure to come later in the week. Be sure to read Frank’s weblog for daily reports of activities.
All the racers are now in Monument Valley preparing for the race in 4 days. Be sure to stay tuned to polypoke for the latest news and photos as the preparatation unfolds!
This was not Kirby’s day – first he hits a gate during the race, and then he has this unfortunate incident at the airport.
I’ve had a few inquiries regarding how to get tickets for Monument Valley, so I thought that I would post the direct link to it here.
Buy Monument Valley Tickets!
Here is a flyer for the event in PDF format.
Top qualifier Paul Bonhomme managed to edge out the competition taking the podium as the winner of today’s finals. A crowd of over 500,000 people gathered to watch the race. Alex Maclean took 2nd and Mike Mangold took 3rd.
World Series Standings