U.S. pilot Michael Goulian shares the Red Bull Air Race World Championship lead after posting a second-place finish in Chiba, Japan, May 27. He was 0.319 seconds slower in the Final Four than Australia's Matt Hall, who notched his second victory in a row as the series moves to Budapest, Hungary, June 23 and 24.
Defending champion and hometown crowd favorite Yoshihide Muroya was dinged for exceeding the maximum G and did not finish. He said he would go to school on the miscue and would “just concentrate on the next round and forget the bad things. It’s good to learn from the mistake.”
The Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka avenged his own disqualification from Red Bull’s previous stop by placing third in Japan. He used the podium finish to shower pilots Hall and Goulian with champagne and to chase them around the victory stand.
“This one was very hard-fought,” said Hall. “Going to bed you know you had to race the reigning world champion [Muroya] and the guy who’s won this race the last two times in a row and a home crowd favorite, it was a tough morning.”
Goulian won the pole ahead of U.S. pilot Kirby Chambliss the day before the premier event to set up a Makuhari Beach showdown with Muroya. The local pilot had hoped to claim a history-making hat-trick of three consecutive hometown victories.
Performing strongly after a rough 2017, Goulian also claimed the DHL Fastest Lap Award. “I couldn't be happier with where we are right now,” he said during a Red Bull television interview. “The team is moving on all six cylinders, as they say in air racing. We're getting along great, and everything is running well, so if we just keep on this path we're going to have a great season.”
Dolderer, the 2016 World Champion, complimented Japan’s air race spectators. “The Japanese fans are really genuine fans—they wait at the hotel, they are already waiting at the race airport when we arrive, and we recognize them year after year. So, you feel a little bit like a rock star here.”
The race series has confirmed stops Aug. 25 and 26 in Kazan, Russia; Sept. 15 and 16 in Wiener Neustadt, Austria; and Oct. 6 and 7 at its only U.S. venue—the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway and site of the 2018 Indianapolis 500.
A party is planned for AOPA friends and guests, and the excitement will be filled with live music, drinks, food, and plenty more. Air race enthusiasts can purchase tickets now to take in the one-of-a-kind experience from the speedway’s Panasonic Pagoda and Yard of Bricks.