Race News

Canadian pilot Pete McLeod kicks off 2018 World Championship bid this weekend

After earning his first overall podium with third place in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship last season, Ontario’s Pete McLeod is back in action at the 2018 opener in Abu Dhabi this Friday and Saturday – and looking to move even higher.

“For me, the Red Bull Air Race is an expression of some of the greatest things in life – speed, extreme performance and world-class competition, and doing it all in an airplane,” says McLeod, who opens his seventh season in the sport over Abu Dhabi’s famed Corniche on 2-3 February.

Joining him in the hangar are the four colleagues who contributed to McLeod’s breakout success in 2017: technician Patrick “Pat” Phillips, team coordinator Charlotte Sandgaard, tactician Jeff “Hacker” Hack and technical assistant Mark Hindley. Together the team pulled off a remarkably consistent campaign, including third place at the season opener, four consecutive pole positions mid-season, a string of three consecutive second-place finishes, and a decisive win of the season’s DHL Fastest Lap trophy.

Most exciting for Canadian fans, McLeod was in a four-way battle for the World Championship crown right up until the eighth and final race, and he edged out a two-time titleholder to claim his place on the podium. Having grown up flying in all kinds of conditions in the Canadian wilderness, the pilot has always been a natural in the air, but this was a new level of performance, even for him.

McLeod says, “The 2017 season was a career best for me in the standings and a strong year across the board. The team and partners supporting me were very strong, and I was able to focus on racing as a result.”

While the Canadian is the first to admit that a new season is a clean slate, it is clear that he is feeling confident as he arrives in Abu Dhabi. And it is a great location to start: McLeod has taken home a total of three third-place trophies from the Emirates capital in the past.

Insiders are saying that with pilot skills and raceplane technology at an all-time high, the 2018 season is likely to be the most competitive ever seen in the Red Bull Air Race. When asked how he thinks the standings will shake out when it all wraps up next November, McLeod is reluctant to make predictions. “I like to take the season one race at a time,” he answers, “but I will say this: our goal for 2018 is more speed, more podiums and of course more points!”

Red Bull Air Race 2018 Calendar
2-3 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
21-22 April: Cannes, France
26-27 May: Asia, location TBA
23-24 June: Budapest, Hungary
4-5 August: Asia, location TBA
25-26 August: Kazan, Russia
6-7 October: Indianapolis, USA
November: Europe, location TBA

About Red Bull Air Race
Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship has held more than 80 races around the globe. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.

McLeod takes historic first World Championship podium for Canada

At the Red Bull Air Race season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA on Sunday, Canada’s Pete McLeod became the first Canadian ever to claim an overall podium in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, taking third place to top off a standout season.

INDIANAPOLIS (USA) – With high winds, the season finale was heartstopping from the very beginning. McLeod, who came to Indianapolis at third in the overall standings with a chance to take the title, was in the first heat and blazing his way to advancement over French pilot Mikaël Brageot when – going through the Finish Gate – he clipped a pylon for a three-second penalty. His 2017 championship hopes were over, but the points the Canadian had accumulated throughout a season that included four podiums were enough to hold him in third place when the race was over.

“It was wild out there, and I expected that. I had a lot of fun, enjoying the run is all you can do on a day like today, and I’d go out there again if I could. On the bright side, I made it all the way through the track before I hit my pylon, which is better than some of the guys out there. But that’s how it was today,” said the Team McLeod pilot, who will be taking his trophy home to his wife and a brand-new baby daughter. “Overall, I’m really happy with the season – you’re going to have ups and downs, but it was great.”

The Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka and Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya, ranked one and two in the standings, went head to head in the Round of 14. Flying first, Muroya’s championship hopes also seemed to be over when he incurred a two-second penalty – but in the strong winds Šonka hit a pylon for a three-second penalty that advanced Japan’s hero to the Round of 8. Muroya still couldn’t rest, because Šonka ended up advancing after all as the round’s fastest loser. When the title contenders both won their Round of 8 heats, it all came down to the Final 4.

There, going first with everything on the line, Muroya flew to a new track record of 1:03.026 that 2016 World Champion Matthias Dolderer of Germany and Spain’s Juan Velarde couldn’t match. The pressure all was on Šonka. The Czech pilot flew cleanly, but with a technical issue plus a wing stall in the Vertical Turning Maneuver, he could manage only 1:07.280, and both the race win and Asia’s first Red Bull Air Race World Championship belonged to Muroya.

As the race awards were handed out in the iconic infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Muroya was joined on the podium by Dolderer in second and Velarde in third. Then, when the World Championship trophy was presented, Muroya was sprayed with champagne by McLeod and Šonka, who finished second overall.

Results Master Class race Indianapolis 2017:
1. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 2. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 3. Juan Velarde (ESP), 4. Martin Šonka (CZE), 5. Petr Kopfstein (CZE), 6. Mikaël Brageot (FRA), 7. Michael Goulian (USA), 8. Matt Hall (AUS), 9. Cristian Bolton (CHI), 10. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 11. Pete McLeod (CAN), 12. François Le Vot (FRA), 13. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 14. Peter Podlunšek (SLO)

Final standings, 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship: 1. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 74 pts,   2. Martin Šonka (CZE) 70 points, 3. Pete McLeod (CAN) 56 pts, 4. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 53 pts, 5. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 43 pts, 6. Matt Hall (AUS) 40 pts, 7. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 39 pts, 8. Juan Velarde (ESP) 37 pts, 9. Michael Goulian (USA) 28 pts, 10. Mikaël Brageot (FRA) 24 pts, 11. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 16 pts, 12. Peter Podlunšek (SLO) 14 pts, 13. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 9 pts, 14. François Le Vot (FRA) 9 pts

###

ABOUT RED BULL AIR RACE
Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship celebrated its landmark 75th race at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.

NEWSROOM
The Red Bull Air Race Newsroom is a free media service providing news, stories, high-resolution photography, audio, footage for TV and web, as well as race results and background information about the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. www.redbullairracenewsroom.com

All content is free for editorial use.

MEDIA CONTACT
If you have any questions, please contact us at media@redbullairrace.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
We invite you to follow the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Facebook,InstagramTwitter and Youtube.

MEDIA PRODUCTS AVAILABLE
October 15, 2017
Challenger Class race & Challenger Cup results release & images
Master Class race & World Championship results release & images
Race Day recap clip
Newscut
Pilot selects

October 16, 2017
Best moments clip
Quotes of the weekend

What Will It Take to Win the World Championship?

There’s just a single race left before the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Champion is crowned. Find out which pilots are still in the hunt, and what results will give one of them the season trophy.

After seven intense races in seven countries, Martin Šonka (CZE), Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), Pete
McLeod (CAN) and Kirby Chambliss (USA) remain in the running for the 2017 title. Here’s how the
possibilities shape up for the Red Bull Air Race season finale at the holy grail of motorsport, the USA’s
Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (To know: If there’s a tie in the points, the World Championship is decided
on race results. The pilot with the most 2017 race wins gets the title; or if both have the same number of
wins, the trophy goes to the pilot with the most second-place results, and so on.)

Martin Šonka

(Currently 63 points with 2 wins, 2 thirds, 1 fourth, 1 fifth, 1 ninth)
At the top of the standings, Šonka is the man to beat. He could – on paper, anyway – wear the crown
even if he finishes last at Indianapolis. But his opponents aren’t likely to give him that much help!
Result at Indy Total Points Wins World Championship If…

Win 78(No ifs about it, the title is Šonka’s)

2nd75(Šonka is also a lock with second place)

3rd72Muroya doesn’t win

4th70Muroya finishes under 2nd, McLeod doesn’t win

5th69Muroya finishes under 2nd, McLeod doesn’t win

6th68Muroya finishes under 3rd, McLeod doesn’t win

7th67Muroya finishes under 3rd, McLeod under 2nd, Chambliss doesn’t win

8th66Muroya finishes under 4th, McLeod under 2nd, Chambliss doesn’t win

9th65Muroya finishes under 5th, McLeod under 2nd, Chambliss doesn’t win

10th64Muroya finishes under 6th, McLeod under 3rd, Chambliss under 2nd

11th-14th 63Muroya finishes under 7th, McLeod under 3rd, Chambliss under 2nd

 

Yoshi Muroya

(Currently 59 points with 3 wins, 1 third, 1 sixth, 2 thirteenths)

The only pilot with three wins so far this season, Muroya is in a strong position only four points behind
Šonka. But if he finishes lower than 7th place at the speedway, his chance for the championship is gone.
Result at Indy Total Points Wins World Championship If…

Win74Šonka finishes under 2nd

2nd71Šonka finishes under 3rd

3rd68Šonka finishes under 5th, McLeod doesn’t win

4th66Šonka finishes under 7th, McLeod under 2nd, Chambliss doesn’t win

5th65Šonka finishes under 8th, McLeod under 2nd, Chambliss doesn’t win

6th64Šonka finishes under 9th, McLeod under 3rd, Chambliss doesn’t win

7th63Šonka finishes under 10th, McLeod under 3rd, Chambliss under 2nd

 

Pete McLeod

(Currently 56 points with 0 wins, 3 seconds, 1 third, 1 fifth, 1 seventh, 1 tenth)

McLeod has been on the podium four times in 2017, more than any previous season in his career. To
take the title for Canada, he must add one more race podium to that tally… and get a little help from his
rivals.

Result at Indy Total Points Wins World Championship If…
Win71Šonka finishes under 3rd, Muroya under 2nd
2nd68Šonka finishes under 6th, Muroya under 3rd
3rd65Šonka finishes under 9th, Muroya under 5th, Chambliss doesn’t win

 

Kirby Chambliss

(Currently 52 points with 2 wins, 2 fourths, 1 sixth, 1 eighth, 1 eleventh)
The odds are against the two-time titleholder, but another World Championship could still be in the cards
if Chambliss finishes first or second and Lady Luck does the rest.
Result at Indy Total Points Wins World Championship If…

Win67Šonka finishes under 7th, Muroya under 3rd, McLeod under 2nd

2nd64Šonka finishes under 10th, Muroya under 6th, McLeod under 3rd

You do not want to miss this. Tickets are on sale now for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 14-15 October 2017. For more information on tickets and all the latest, visit www.redbullairrace.com

###
For more information and images visit: www.redbullairracenewsroom.com
About Red Bull Air Race:

Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship celebrated its landmark 75th race at the
2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best
race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest,
most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as
they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger
Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential
advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.

Four in a row: McLeod claims Porto pole

A crowd of 250,000 were cheering In Porto, Portugal on Saturday, as Canada’s Pete McLeod clinched the top time in Qualifying for the fourth Red Bull Air Race stop in a row. Overall World Championship leader Kirby Chambliss of the United States clocked the second-best result, and in one of Porto’s biggest stories, Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya came back from technical problems to take third. Race Day in Portugal is Sunday.

Porto (PORTUGAL) – It’s been eight years since Porto hosted a Red Bull Air Race, and the huge crowds were breathless with anticipation. McLeod’s 1:07.192 was the class of the field, a full three-quarters of a second ahead of Chambliss. The American’s time of 1:07.942 barely edged out not only Muroya (1:07.972), but also Petr Kopfstein of the Czech Republic (1:07.979).

The excitement is even higher because with just three races to go, the World Championship standings are as tight as the Porto racetrack – and in two of three previous Porto races, the winner has gone on to clinch the World Championship. Chambliss, Muroya, Czech pilot Martin Šonka and McLeod are locked within a two-point spread at the top of the overall leaderboard, with Kopfstein right behind in fifth overall. When Qualifying finished on Saturday afternoon, Muroya may have been the most relieved: His team put in an exceptional effort to repair a crack discovered in their raceplane’s airframe on Thursday, finishing final inspections only on Saturday morning. While Šonka finished seventh in Qualifying, he’s expected to be a real threat on Race Day, as he set the Porto track record in Free Practice with 1:06.222.

In the Red Bull Air Race, the pilots who finish fastest in Qualifying race head to head with the pilots at the bottom of the timesheet. McLeod will go up against Chile’s Cristian Bolton, who did not start in Qualifying because of a radio issue, and Chambliss will face off with Spain’s Juan Velarde, who also was unable to start Qualifying because of propeller damage in Free Practice.

“We’ve had a good season but no wins yet. The plane is running good, flying’s good and the team is working well together. We need a bit of luck and things to go our way on Race Day,” said McLeod, who has earned three podiums in 2017. “To come out with two second places this season and think it’s underperforming shows how far we’ve come. There’s a lot of speed out there, and if I do my job well, we’ve got the chance to win.”

McLeod earned his fourth consecutive DHL Fastest Lap Award for flying the fastest single lap among the two-lap Qualifying runs. At the 2017 finale, the pilot with the most awards will be presented with the DHL Fastest Lap trophy, and the Canadian’s new tally assures him of the honor

Canadian pilot McLeod returns to Porto on 2-3 September

The last time the Red Bull Air Race headed to Porto, Portugal, it was 2009, and Canada’s Pete McLeod was a newcomer with only four races under his belt. Now, eight years later, he’s in the heart of the World Championship battle with just three stops left in the season.

Continue Reading

McLeod to race in Russia for the first time this weekend

Since joining the Red Bull Air Race in 2009, Canadian pilot Pete McLeod has competed all over the world – but never before in Russia. That will change this weekend when the first Russian race in the history of the sport takes off in Kazan.

Continue Reading

McLeod: Nothing Happens By Accident

The Canadian is in the best position of his career, which is all part of the plan. Pete McLeod is sitting third in the World Championship standings at the halfway point of the season. He looks to be in the form of his life as we head to Russia and the final four races of 2017.

Continue Reading

McLeod earns back-to-back pole position at Budapest Qualifying

Canadian pilot Pete McLeod celebrated Canada Day with 30,000 Red Bull Air Race fans in Hungary on Saturday, when he blazed to the top time in Qualifying for the World Championship stop in Budapest.

Continue Reading

North American pilots cheered by 90,000 in Japan

Japanese motorsport fans were crazy for Michael Goulian, Pete McLeod and Kirby Chambliss at the third stop of the Red Bull Air Race season in Chiba on 3-4 June.

Continue Reading

McLeod masterful in Chiba Qualifying

A total of 35,000 fans lined the shores of Tokyo Bay as the Red Bull Air Race World Championship returned to Chiba, Japan for the third consecutive season with Qualifying on Saturday.

Continue Reading

Scroll to top