Sets Up A "Who's The Better Pilot?" Battle For Next Year
Britain's Paul Bonhomme scored a stylish victory in the final
race of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Perth on
Sunday, in front of a crowd of more than 200,000 spectators...
while Hannes Arch was crowned 2008 World Champion after finishing
Bonhomme collected his 4th victory trophy of the season with a
triumph over compatriot Nigel Lamb on a sunny afternoon in Western
Australia to take second place overall for the second consecutive
"I was very pleased to win here in Perth," said Bonhomme, who
had dominated the first half of the season before Arch took control
in the second half. "I got to Perth early this year to get
acclimatised and that paid off. The airplane is not really going
that well but at least I have been flying it well here."
Flying an Edge 540, Arch became the first European to win the
World Championship after Americans Mike Mangold (2005, 2007) and
Kirby Chambliss (2006) won the title for the world's most exciting
high-speed, low-altitude precision-flying competition.
"Paul deserved the win today and I'm thrilled to win the overall
Championship," said Arch, 41, who appeared close to tears on the
podium when the Austrian national anthem was played. "Over the
whole season I had a very fast plane. The secret was to be
consistent. I had the advantage of being behind Paul most of the
season so the pressure was on him, not me. Today I felt the
pressure and hit a pylon."
At a good-natured press conference in Perth, both Arch and
Bonhomme agreed the results in Perth would only fuel arguments
through the off-season about who was really the best pilot in 2008.
Arch is the World Champion with 2 wins and 61 points while Bonhomme
had 4 wins and 54 points.
"Clearly it's me," said Bonhomme with a smile when asked what he
would tell those debating about which pilot was the best in 2008.
Arch replied: "It's not just about who is the ‘best pilot'.
It's tactics, it's the plane and it's the team."
Chambliss, who had 2 wins in 2008, took 3rd place overall with
46 points while Mangold was 4th on 44 points. Hungary's Peter
Besenyei (34 points) managed to stave off a late-season challenge
from Britain's Steve Jones (33 points) in a fantastic battle for
5th place while Spain's Alejandro Maclean jumped from 10th to 8th
place on the strength of his 4th place finish in Perth. The
turn-filled Australia track was just what the doctor ordered for
Lamb and Maclean, who had the best results of the year Down Under.
Their MXS planes had struggled against the Edge 540s until now.
"It's awesome," said Lamb of his career-best 2nd place and first
podium since getting 3rd in San Diego in 2007. "I was excited about
the 2009 season before this race and this has reinforced that."
The 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship race calendar will
be announced soon.