The Russian sports capital of Kazan will host the Red Bull Air Race World Championship for the third consecutive time on June 15-16, 2019.
It is one of the last Red Bull Air Races, as Red Bull announced in late May that it would not continue the races past 2019.
Since the first race of 2019 in Abu Dhabi, the race teams have been hard at work preparing for the clash in Kazan, officials note. Many have modified their raceplanes, and their tacticians have been carefully studying the track, where a blustery 2017 race saw more than 60 pylon hits and last year just 0.181s separated the top three.
Meanwhile, the pilots have been pulling Gs to stay fit and practicing on their custom simulators.
Flying just meters above the Kazanka River, the 14 Master Class pilots will reach speeds up to 370 km/h and endure forces up to 12G in single-seat raceplanes, with the Kazan Kremlin as a backdrop.
Each will fly against the clock while navigating a technical racetrack of air-filled pylons, which, in a safety feature, burst spectacularly if grazed by a wing.
A feeder category, the Challenger Class, also competes at the race stops around the globe. Altogether across the Master Class and the Challenger Class, the 26 pilots represent 17 countries and six continents.
Pilots to watch in Kazan include 2017 World Champion Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) and defending titleholder Martin Šonka (CZE). Their rivalry is long and deep, and at the season opener in Abu Dhabi, Muroya edged Šonka for the win by just 0.003s. But Šonka brings the confidence of earning the race victory in Kazan last year.
The USA’s Kirby Chambliss won in Kazan in 2017 and was third in 2018. Other previous podium finishers in the Tatarstan capital are Michael Goulian (USA) and Pete McLeod (CAN).
Master Class Qualifying will take off on Saturday, June 15. Race Day is Sunday, June 16.
The last two races in the championships will be July 13-14 in Lake Balaton, Hungary, and Sept. 7-8 in Chiba, Japan.