Sunday, 16 August 2015 17:19
ASCOT, United Kingdom – Canada's Pete McLeod had an unlucky draw at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship stop on Sunday and got knocked out in the opening round by red-hot Matt Hall in front of a crowd of 40,000 spectators at the world famous Ascot Racecourse. McLeod then had to watch from the Race Airport hangar as the Australian made it all the way to the Final Four on the track where thoroughbred horses usually race, where Hall ended up second to Britain's Paul Bonhomme. It was the second straight disappointing year in England for McLeod, who was 11th here last year. McLeod is looking for his second career victory this season after winning his first race in the world's fastest motorsport series in Las Vegas last year.
"I needed to push hard to have any chance of beating Hall but it didn't work out," said McLeod, who had finished 13th in Qualifying on Saturday and had to race against second-seeded Hall in the Round of 14. It was a tough battle and McLeod might have advanced as the "lucky loser" from one of the seven heats to the Round of 8 but Bonhomme, who won the race, won that honor of "fastest loser" after being beaten by Austria's Hannes Arch. "It was a hard weekend overall. It's time to forget this one and move onto the next race in Spielberg, Austria."
Despite failing to win any championship points in Ascot, McLeod is still sixth overall with 14 points -- just four points behind Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic in fourth place. McLeod was fourth at the last stop in Budapest. His best result this season was third at the season opener in Abu Dhabi.
The victory was Bonhomme’s third this season and second straight win at Ascot as well as the 18th of his career.
Bonhomme picked up 12 points to widen his lead at the top of the Red Bull Air Race Championship to eight points (46) ahead of Hall (38 points) in second going into the final three races.
"It was a hard day at the office but today was great fun – I enjoyed that ," said Bonhomme after hitting speeds of near 370 km/h on the track that featured a static start in front of the majestic grandstands and a challenging course made up of 12 Air Gates standing 25 metres high on the infield of the track. "All I can say is this was due to teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. I’m only the driver. I just point the plane in the right direction."
It was the second time the Red Bull Air Race was staged in Ascot, just west of London, that has quickly become one of the most attractive air race locations in the world and a favourite of the pilots who relish taking off and landing on the grassy strip in front of the big crowd.
Austria's Hannes Arch, who struggled in the training session and was last in Qualifying on Saturday, finished a disappointing eighth after winning the last two races in Budapest and Rovinj, Croatia. Arch had a great run in the Round of 12, just beating Bonhomme. But Bonhomme was the “fastest loser” and advanced to the Round of 8. But Arch was unable to get his engine started before the Round of 8 and was forced to retire. “It’s frustrating if you can’t race but that’s life,” said Arch, who slipped to third overall with 30 points.
In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world's top pilots hit speeds of 370 km/h while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate as precisely as possible through a low-level slalom track marked by 25-metre high air-filled pylons.
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship moves to its next stop in Spielberg, Austria on September 5-6.