In a title that came down to the final round of the season, Martin Sonka won the first Red Bull Air Race World Championship of his career — and the first for his native Czech Republic.
Capping off the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 18, 2018, Matt Hall of Australia came in second, with U.S. pilot Michael Goulian taking third.
For the second year in a row, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship came down to the final flight of the final race, and both times, the pilot under pressure was Sonka. Last year, he saw the title slip through his fingers.
In Fort Worth, it was Goulian who came into the season finale with the overall lead, but after barely making it out of the opening round due to engine issues, he faced Sonka in the Round of 8.
Two penalties for Goulian gave Sonka the advancement, and then the title was down to Sonka and Hall as they flew in the Final 4 along with U.S. pilot Kirby Chambliss and Ben Murphy of Great Britain.
Sonka delivered a perfect run and clinched the title with 52.796s, according to Red Bull Air Race officials.
“It’s a different story than last season, and it’s my biggest sporting achievement. Unfortunately, the only thing that I missed was having Mikey [Goulian] in the Final 4 as well, but it was a beautiful race and I think everyone, especially the Czech spectators, enjoyed it,” said Sonka, who produced an incredible comeback across 2018 after getting disqualification penalties at the season’s first two races. “For the last flight I managed to have a clear head. I heard that Matt [Hall] flew a super time, and I knew I had to push harder and definitely not do a penalty or mistake, and I managed. I cannot be happier.”
Results From the Fort Worth Race 2018
- Martin Sonka (CZE),
- Matt Hall (AUS),
- Kirby Chambliss (USA),
- Ben Murphy (GBR),
- Yoshihide Muroya (JPN),
- Mika Brageot (FRA),
- Juan Velarde (ESP),
- Michael Goulian (USA),
- Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA),
- François Le Vot (FRA),
- Pete McLeod (CAN),
- Petr Kopfstein (CZE),
- Matthias Dolderer (GER),
- Cristian Bolton (CHI)
2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship Final standings
- Martin Sonka (CZE) 80 points,
- Matt Hall (AUS) 75 pts,
- Michael Goulian (USA) 73 pts,
- Mika Brageot 41 pts,
- Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 40 pts,
- Kirby Chambliss (USA) 34 pts