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Racers battle bumps in BudapestRacers battle bumps in Budapest

Red Bull Air Race curtailed

Flying with precision on a choppy day, Matthias Dolderer of Germany navigated the Red Bull Air Race pylons in 58.653 seconds, a time that held up for first place as uncooperative weather curtailed the Red Bull Air Race in Budapest, Hungary, July 17. Dolderer, who barely escaped the first round after collecting four seconds in penalties, took a firm hold of the 2016 championship with four races to go. American Kirby Chambliss climbed to third place in the season standings on the strength of his flying in the most turbulent conditions pilots could recall.
Kirby Chambliss performs during the fourth stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Budapest, Hungary, July 17. Photo by Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool.

The rain and low ceilings were also a problem, sending crews scurrying to get race airplanes into shelter instead of out on the course. Qualifying on July 17 was scrubbed, along with the final round. With the race limited to two rounds (pilots usually fly four heats including qualifying), the wind made a challenging feat of aviation even more so as racers struggled to maintain pinpoint precision through a course defined by inflatable gates floating on the Danube. There were many two-second penalties for gate errors.

“It was so turbulent today, it was the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced,” said Michael Goulian, a Red Bull Air Race pilot (and AOPA ambassador), in comments published by Red Bull. Goulian was eliminated in the first round. “As I came through the gate the wind was different to what I was expecting and I had to raise my wing, which gave me the two second penalty for incorrect level flying.”

Kirby Chambliss prepares for his flight during the fourth stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Hungary July 17, 2016. Photo by Balazs Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool.

Chambliss took home fourth-place points despite being tagged with the same penalty, as his competition was slower through the course.

“It wasn’t too bad, I was close to the podium and we’re always shooting for that first spot,” Chambliss said in comments published by Red Bull, acknowledging that Dolderer will be difficult to catch in the second half of the season. “Matthias yanked it out of there again and that’s really going to put him up there.”

Budapest marked the midpoint in the eight-race schedule, and increased Dolderer’s lead to 15.25 points over Austrian Hannes Arch in a series that typically awards 15 points to race winners, though the July 17 points were reduced by a quarter in keeping with series rules for events shortened by weather.

Chambliss is now close on the tail of Arch, less than a point behind, and 16 points behind Dolderer heading into the second half. Dolderer still has work to do before he can claim the championship; an early round exit could leave him with no points at all, allowing Arch and Chambliss to gain ground when the series heads next to Ascot, United Kingdom, Aug. 13 and 14. Then it is on to Germany in September, followed by the final two races of the season: Indianapolis and Las Vegas, both in October.

Kirby Chambliss performs during the fourth stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Budapest, Hungary, July 17, 2016. Photo by Armin Walcher/Red Bull Content Pool.
Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web
Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
Topics: Air Racing, Travel

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