2015 Event Review

2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, May 30-31, Rovinj, Croatia
Location: Rovinj, Croatia.
Admission: Various, but could be watched for free from location near by
Parking: N/A
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: Not an air show but we give it a 10!
Display by the Italians
Red Bull Air Race in action!

Rovinj, Croatia, hosted the third stop of the Red Bull Air Race 2015 on May 30th and 31th.  Rovinj is a small city located in the west coast of the Istrian peninsula, Croatia. It's a famous touristic place for its wonderful sea and its ancient city located on a hill surrounded by the Adriatic sea.

The race in Rovinj replaced Sochi, Russia, according to Erich Wolf, General Manager of the Red Bull Air Race: “It would have been great to host the first Red Bull Air Race in Russia this year, but due to the current situation with the international capital markets, our partners in Russia are facing extremely high exchange rates. This makes it impossible to set up an infrastructure fulfilling our high standards and also to provide our fans with tickets at affordable prices. To secure a well-organized eight-race season, we have been forced to make a decision at this stage and believe this change was necessary. However, this gives us the chance to return to Croatia, where we had a spectacular race last year. Nevertheless we still hope to stage a race in Sochi in the future.”

After the first two races, in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Chiba (Japan), Paul Bonhomme is the leader of the championship, followed by Matt Hall. Both had a great start of the season, Bonhomme won both the races and Hall was second. The 2014 champion's, the English lion, Nigel Lamb is forced to chase and must earn points on Bonhomme to defend the title. The Austrian Hannes Arch, who lost the 2014 championship in his home race in Spielberg last year, is forced to follow due to his so-so start of the season. The last two pilots of the ranking are the two rookies, Juan Velarde (Spain) and Françoise Le Volt (France), both with zero points. As Velarde stated us on the Saturday morning interview, for them the challenge is to learn all the skills that are needs to compete in the master class.

From the Saturday (May 30) morning interviews we discovered also that the race track is similar to the one of the last year, it's only a bit shorter. The real challenge for every pilot is the wind, that on the Istrian coast can be intense and frequently changes direction. Every time the racers do a lap, it feels like they are on a different track. Compared to the past season, only Michael Goulian has a new plane of the same type: Edge 540 V2. The other Master Class pilots made some minor improvements on their machines during the short winter stop. Péter Besenyei is still having the same issues as last year with the thin wings of his Corvus Racer 540. While the Corvus Racer 540 is a good aerobatic plane however Péter cannot pull as he would like due to the wing stall and this resulted in a lost of time respect of the other competitors. To  resolve  this  problem  he  will be flying a new Zivko Edge 540 V3,  starting something new for his home race in Budapest. we'll be there to attest the results for you!  Péter Besenyei to the right, explains the challenges of flying  with the Corvus.

The Challenger Cup

The challenger cup was introduced in 2014 to give to new pilots the opportunity to develop their skills by flying in race conditions. Of the eight pilots that participate at the Challengers Cup only five was present in Rovinj: Francis Barros (Brazil), Cristian Bolton  (Chile), Mikael Brageot (France), Peter Podlunsek (Slovenia) and Daniel Ryfa (Sweden).

Ryfa earned his first-ever win by dominating the race with a lap in 1:05.103 minutes, two seconds ahead of “Mika” Brageot in second place. Only Ryfa and Brageot closed the race without penalties. Bolton closed in third place with 2 seconds of penalty due to an “Incorrect Level Flying”. The local favorite pilot Podlunsek, from Slovenia, hitting a pylon and had an “Incorrect Level Flying” so he ended fourth.

The Master Class Qualification

During the training, Hannes Arch experienced a scary pylon strike. The fabric wrapped around the wing and created an incredibly dangerous situation. The great training helped Arch to stay calm and in control, he went out of the track and did a safety climb out. Arch was able to remove the fabric from the wing and he landed safely in Vrsar airport. >

The Master Class qualification was won by Bonhomme that demonstrated his great ability and that he will be the number one candidate for the final victory of the race. He was followed by Yoshihide Muroya and Matt Hall, the direct competitor to win the championship. In the qualifications it is very important to be near the top due to the race formula of this year. In the first "Round of 14" the pilots are divided in 7 "couples" and only the winner of each couple gains the access to the second part of the race the "Round of 8". Then the four winners make one lap and the fastest pilot is the winner of the race. The couples are build by bringing the first qualified pilot with the last, the second with the thirteenth, and so on. So the first in the qualification has the advantage to challenge the last. Both, Bonhomme and Hall, won their couples race and they were challenged in the "Round of 8". Bonhomme lost so it was not possible for him to be in the "Final 4", creating a great advantage for Matt Hall who ended up as the third in the final race. During the “Round of 8”, after winning against Matthias Dolderer, Martin Sonka got his career-best second place in the race.
By winning against Péter Besenyei in the “Round of 14” and against the pilot who narrowly snatched the title last year, Nigel Lamb, in the “Round of 8” Hannes Arch won the “Final 4” and become the winner of the Red Bull Air Race in Rovinj 2015, just like he did lasting 2014 here. It seems that Rovinj is a special place for the Austrian ace who was supported here by many fans.

The next Red Bull Air Race will return to Budapest after four years of absence on 4-5 July. An amazing scenario for the fourth stop of the 2015 season and will be there!

1. Hannes Arch (AUT)
2. Martin Sonka (CZE)
3. Matt Hall (AUS)
4. Michael Goulian (USA)
5. Nigel Lamb (GBR)
6. Matthias Dolderer (GER)
7. Pete McLeod (CAN)
8. Paul Bonhomme (GBR),
9. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA)
10. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN)
11. Kirby Chambliss (USA)
12. Peter Besenyei (HUN)
13. Juan Velarde (ESP)
14. Francois Le Vot (FRA)
Report, photography by Ruggero Piccoli,  anf Alberto Celsan or as noted, for

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Saab Gripen taking off at RIAT
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