LAS VEGAS – Between bouts of torrential rain, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship held its eighth and final race of the 2015 season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Oct. 17-18.
More than 20,000 fans braved the weather to watch Great Britain’s Paul Bonhomme, the most decorated pilot in Red Bull Air Race history, as he claimed a third World Championship.
Despite winning the Las Vegas race, Matt Hall of Australia was unable to unseat Bonhomme in the championship points, finishing the 2015 season in second place. Austria’s Hannes Arch rounded out the championship podium in third.
Although Bonhomme only needed to finish sixth place or better to win the title, the pressure was on heading into the Round of 8 as he was suddenly forced to return to the race airport due to technical problems. The race was on to fix the plane, which had incurred water damage to the wing and air speed equipment during the previous round. After an expedited repair by his race team, Bonhomme returned to the sky to beat Arch and advance to the Final 4, which automatically secured the World Championship.
“The conditions were shocking,” said Hall, of the ominous rain clouds in the desert area around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “There was a lot of pressure on Paul and he did what he had to do, so congratulations. It’s been an amazing year.”
American Kirby Chambliss was eliminated in the Round of 12, while fellow countryman Michael Goulian was able to advance to the Round of 8 before falling victim to Saturday’s fastest qualifier, Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya. Goulian and Chambliss finished the overall season in 10th and 11th place.
The Las Vegas Race was not only the end of the 2015 season, but was also the final race for Hungarian pilot Peter Besenyei. One of the most successful pilots in the history of the Red Bull Air Race with eight career victories, Besenyei announced on Sunday that he was retiring from the sport he helped develop in 2003. Besenyei, 59, won the title in the inaugural season in 2003 and has been a driving force behind its growth through his 10 seasons of racing. Las Vegas marked the 66th race in his Red Bull Air Race career.