More than 80,000 spectators at the Red Bull Air Race stop in Kazan, Russia, over the weekend of June 15-16, 2019, saw Japan’s Yoshihide “Yoshi” Muroya win his second race of the season.
Muroya also won the first race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Australia’s Matt Hall took second in the Russia race, followed by Muroya’s top rival, defending World Champion Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic.
Occasional rain and changeable winds made for challenging conditions at the 92nd Red Bull Air Race, but the sun emerged for the Final 4, according to race officials.
Muroya flew first in the Final 4, posting a time of 1:03.496. Flying next, Šonka flew 1:04.238, and François Le Vot of France, who was in his first Final 4 since 2016, was plagued by penalties.
Last to race was Hall. His first split time was barely behind Muroya, then at one point he slid to more than a half-second back, but somehow he made up ground, leaving the crowds breathless as he finished his run just 0.185 off the victorious Muroya, race officials said.
Muroya joins a very exclusive club: Only one other pilot has ever won the first two races in a World Championship season, the three-time titleholder Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain.
With a four-race calendar in 2019, the race in Kazan marked the midpoint of the season. The World Championship standings heading into the second half of the campaign see Muroya with a tally of 53 points, a nine-point advantage over the second-place Šonka. At 36 points, Hall has jumped up to third overall.
U.S. pilots Michael Goulian came in 10th in last weekend’s race, while Kirby Chambliss came in 14th.
The next race is in Lake Balaton, Hungary, July 13-14, with the last race of the season — and the series — in Chiba, Japan, in September.
Red Bull officials announced in late May that this would be the final season for the air race championships.