The 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship kicks off in Abu Dhabi this weekend, and the competition for the title will be hotter than ever this year.
With Mike Mangold and Glen Dell retiring from the championship after the 2009 season, fresh blood was needed for this year – enter Adilson Kindlemann and Martin Sonka. We meet the new pilots and run the rule over those gunning for the world title.
Kindlemann (pictured, above right) gets his chance in the Air Race after winning his Super Licence at the Qualification Camp in Casarrubios, Spain last October. The 36-year-old from Curitiba, Brazil is the first South American to compete in the series.
The Brazilian has been flying since the age of 15, and competitively since he was 21, becoming Brazil’s national aerobatic champion in the Unlimited category from 2001–3. A classical music fan, he’s no stranger to the event, having displayed in Rio, Brazil in 2007. He is also trained by former Air Race pilot Klaus Schrodt.
'The Red Bull Air Race is a huge challenge for me and I am ready to face it now' – Martin Sonka
Kindlemann, racing an MXS-R, is looking for a solid first season: “My goal for next year is to compete as a race pilot, gain experience in the track and then work on improving the aeroplane ahead of my second season.”
Keep up with Kindlemann on his Twitter page and at www.adilsonkindlemann.com
Like his fellow new recruit, Sonka (pictured, above left) secured his Super Licence in Spain. He comes to Red Bull Air Race with 10 years’ aerobatic experience, having been a fighter pilot and member of the Czech Air Force display team.
The second-youngest pilot in the event’s history, the Czech began flying at 17, and has been performing aerobatics since 2001. A former gymnast, Sonka has won his national championships across both powered and unpowered disciplines.
The 32-year-old got his first taste of the Air Race as a Czech TV pundit, and he’s clearly ready for action: “My career as a fighter pilot, display pilot and aerobatic competitor prepared me to work towards becoming a race pilot. The Red Bull Air Race is a huge challenge for me and I am ready to face it now.”
Check out Martin’s website at martin-sonka.cz
Reigning champion Paul Bonhomme (pictured, above centre) will be hoping to get his title challenge off to the perfect start with a repeat of his 2008 win in the Emirate. The most elegant pilot in the 15-strong field, he has 11 career wins and 29 podiums to his name, having won three of the last four races in 2009 to storm to an unlikely victory.
The man he pipped to last year’s world title, 2008 world champion Hannes Arch (pictured, above left), will be out for revenge this year. And, he’ll want to start by defending his Abu Dhabi crown. The intense Austrian has helped change the face of the Air Race since joining in 2007, with his bold and innovative flying technique.
However, Bonhomme and Arch won’t have it all their own way in 2010. Other pilots with designs on the title include Kirby Chambliss (pictured, left) and Matt Hall (pictured, above right). 2006 champion Chambliss is second only to Bonhomme in terms of career wins, with six. Australian Hall became the most successful rookie in the event’s history as he finished third in 2009.
It promises to be an exciting series – keep up with the latest news at www.redbullairrace.com