Arch wins Qualifying point ahead of Red Bull Air Race finale in Barcelona





Arch wins Qualifying point ahead of Red Bull Air Race finale in Barcelona

By Daniel Guevarra


October 3, 2009, BARCELONA, Spain – Hannes Arch of Austria posted the fastest time in Qualifying at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Saturday in front of a record-breaking crowd of 350,000 and picked up a crucial 1 point to narrow Paul Bonhomme’s lead in the championship to 3 points ahead of Sunday’s grand finale in Barcelona.

Bonhomme, hoping to win his first title after finishing a heart-breaking second in both 2007 and 2008, was a distant 4th in Qualifying behind Arch, Nicolas Ivanoff of France and Australia’s Matt Hall. Spain’s Alejandro Maclean qualified for the Top 12 with a promising 10th place.

 Arch, who now has 52 championship points to Bonhomme's 55, had struggled badly in the first Qualifying session. The defending champion hit a pylon that left him saddled with a 6-second penalty and back in 13th place.


But Arch pulled out the stops in Qualifying 2 and stormed into the lead with the fastest time of the day, a 1:21.06. That was a stunning 1:10 ahead of Ivanoff’s time on the challenging 6.4 km track through 15 Air Gates. An enthusiastic crowd packed the beaches of Barcelona’s Front Maritim, the largest Qualifying Day crowd of the 2009 season.  

“We’ve had so much pressure the last two races,” a relieved Arch said afterwards. “The first run I screwed up and hit a pylon. It was all down to my last run. It’s really important that we got the point. We’ve only got a small chance and the one point is very important. I did lots of mistakes in the first Qualifying. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work. I just tried to do my best. I’ll try my best tomorrow.” 

Bonhomme had a solid run in Q1 (1:22.75) and was just 0.59 seconds behind Ivanoff. But he appeared to be taken aback by Arch’s blazing Q2 time. The British ace nevertheless went all out as well to win the Qualifying point and was even 0.20 seconds ahead of Arch at the midway point in the final run of the day. But Bonhomme then fell a fraction behind him in the third sector before hitting a pylon in the home stretch that deflated not only the Air Gate but his confidence as well.  

 “We’re not worried,” said Bonhomme. “We don’t have to beat Hannes tomorrow. We just have to beat the others. Q1 was a good run. I just took my eye off it a bit in Gate 12. We know where Arch is fast. Our net time was good. We know where we can make up some time.” 


Hall, who got the first podium of his career in Porto, confirmed that sterling result with a solid third place in Qualifying. Hall is third in the championship in the midst of a fierce four-way battle. Another rookie, Germany’s Matthias Dolderer showed he is a contender for the podium by taking fifth place on Saturday. It was a surprisingly disappointing day for the Americans. Michael Goulian was only 7th Kirby Chambliss 9th and Mike Mangold 11th. Both Goulian and Chambliss have demonstrated they have enough speed to win Barcelona while Mangold is just 2 points behind Hall in the championship battle for third place. 

The final race of the season, that will decide the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Champion, takes off tomorrow at 13:00 local time

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