Both American pilots and the Austrian hometown favorite had to make do with less than they wanted as Matthias Dolderer’s blistering final-round flight put him back on the top step of the podium April 24 at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship event in Spielberg, Austria.
Dolderer, in post-race comments posted online by Red Bull, dedicated the win to his parents and added that his sights were firmly set on the 2016 championship. Dolderer took his first flight with his father at age 3, and has won glider championships in Germany and at the world level, though a Red Bull Championship would be his first The victory at Red Bull’s home track (which also hosts Formula One) was Dolderer’s first win since the 2015 Fort Worth race. Dolderer flew media flights for Red Bull races for several years before joining the field in 2009. The Spielberg victory added 15 championship points to his 2016 total of 27 points after two races, well ahead of Nicolas Ivanoff of France who has 19 points after two events, and Hannes Arch of Austria, who follows with 12 points, all from his second-place finish in Austria.
Arch was the second pilot in the final four and posted a time of 57.336 over the twisting and demanding course marked by inflated pylons. Dolderer, also error-free, stopped the clock at 56.996.
Americans Michael Goulian and Kirby Chambliss could not match the Europeans in speed or luck, qualifying seventh and eighth, respectively, with a 57.697 for Goulian and 57.748 for Chambliss. That also meant the two would face off in the first head-to-head round, where Chambliss’ 58.434 was good for the win over Goulian’s 59.203. Crossing the start gate with sufficient speed has been a challenge for Goulian and his team, and they will be analyzing data in search of the missing fractions of a second. Goulian said he was happy with the practice flights, and will renew focus on translating good practice into race results.
Chambliss managed to break 58 seconds in his second-round matchup against Arch, though the 57.844 that would have won two of the other matchups in that round was nearly half a second behind Arch.
Chambliss, in his own post-race comments posted online (in French), said the engine has been giving the team trouble, though “all in all it was a pretty good run.”
The series heads next to Chiba, Japan, June 4 and 5, then on to Hungary, England, and Germany before heading to Indianapolis Oct. 1 and 2, followed by the Oct. 15 and 16 finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The rest of the field has its work cut out to prevent Dolderer from wrapping up the season long before that.