Hannes Arch of Austria was declared the winner of the Red Bull Air Race in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday when adverse weather conditions made it impossible to continue racing during the Top 12 round. Results were based on Saturday’s Qualifying sessions. Arch had won the Qualifying point. Britain’s Nigel Lamb was awarded second place based on coming second in Qualifying, while championship leader Paul Bonhomme was third.
Heavy rain and winds swept across Rio, drenching the 250,000 spectators, during the Top 12 round that initially forced a delay of the high-speed, low-altitude flying in front of the city’s Flamengo Beach with pilots in the air called back to the Race Airport. It was only the second time that this has happened in the 46-race history of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. The last time was in Longleat, UK, in 2006 where Bonhomme was declared the winner.
Arch’s second-consecutive victory also cuts Bonhomme’s championship lead to three points. Bonhomme is on 31 points after collecting nine points for his second-consecutive third place finish while Lamb is second on 28 points for his two second-place finishes in three races this year and Arch on 27 points after collecting a maximum 13 points in Rio – 12 for the victory and one bonus point for winning the Qualifying on Saturday in front of 400,000 Brazilian fans. Arch also won the last race in Perth.
“It’s a good feeling to make up some points on Bonhomme,” said Arch, the 2008 world champion who was clearly delighted to take home 25 of a maximum 26 points from the last two races after stumbling with an 11th place (2 points) in the opening race in Abu Dhabi. “It was an easy way to win today but I’m happy to be able to catch up in the championship. It’s motivating me for the season. Abu Dhabi is history now. I’m obviously thrilled to get the win today but I would have liked to have given the spectators in Rio a great race.”
Lamb, off to the best start of his career, was pleased to narrow Bonhomme’s lead: “It’s a really good result but deep down it’s a bit of an anti-climax for all of us,” he said. “I’m kind of disappointed. At least I got 10 points for second, which isn’t bad.”
The next Red Bull Air Race takes place in Windsor, Canada, on June 5 and 6. For more information: RedBullAirRace.com.