Spectacular weekend at Spielberg: More than 20,000 spectators saw Australia’s Matt Hall claim victory in the sixth round of the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship. After Saturday’s qualifying session had to be cancelled due to rain, fans were delighted to be greeted by sunshine at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on Sunday.
The crowd’s favourite at Spielberg, Hannes Arch, had incredible bad luck with the wind on his very first lap. While flying through the start-finish gate, his plane was buffeted by a sudden gust which the Austrian was unable to compensate for; he brushed against a pylon and immediately came in to land: “I am totally frustrated about being unable to compete today. Unfortunately, I underestimated the turbulence. The pylon hit at the start-finish gate meant an automatic three-second penalty. Consequently, I had no chance of beating Kirby and therefore decided to abandon the run. I’m extremely sorry for the fans.”
The local hero not only had to admit defeat to his closest rival, Kirby Chambliss, but also watch as Paul Bonhomme and Matt Hall increased their points tally in the championship. Hall took advantage of the situation and was clearly delighted with his first Top Three finish of the season: “That was probably the hardest race of my career. Standing on the podium and hearing the Australian national anthem was the best thing I have ever experienced. At last we’ve managed a win. The sense of relief in the entire team is immense.”
Second visit to Austria
For the pilots contesting the Red Bull Air Race, the Spielberg race weekend was not the first visit to Austria this year. In the days following the series debut in Japan, two Boeing 747 cargo aircraft arrived at Graz airport laden with up to 100 tonnes of equipment and racing aircraft ready for use in the European stint of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
The work that goes on behind the scenes is phenomenal. Perfectly organised logistics are necessary to ensure that the racing aircraft are able to compete at the eight host cities in seven countries throughout Europe, North America and Asia. The extensive quantity of team equipment as well as the infrastructure also has to arrive on site in good time.
After the season opener in Abu Dhabi and the first race in the history of the series in Japan, the equipment for the four European races in Rovinj, Budapest, Ascot and Spielberg was flown from Tokyo to Graz. The jumbos with their cargo of between 90 and 100 tonnes were unloaded by a 20-strong ground crew in just two hours,
The necessary infrastructure for the fastest motorsport series in the world has to be assembled and dismantled at each venue on the calendar. This includes the grid stand, the race club, the hangars, the cranes for the air gates, the electronic equipment and the transmission centre for television coverage. It takes several days before the entire infrastructure is in place.