The weather at EuroSpeedway Lausitzring put the fans on a rack during the return of the Red Bull Air Race to Germany. At first, heavy rain retarded the “Round of 14” to be held according to plan. After a one-hour delay, the 14 best pilots in the world finally took off. The seven duels of this first round had been changed over night after Martin Sonka (CZE), who had been third in the qualification, was disqualified due to a violation of the technical race rules (number of revolutions too high). After the reshuffle, Sonka competed with the winner of the qualifying, Nigel Lamb (GBR), while Hannes Arch met Juan Velarde (ESP).
Austrian champion Hannes Arch kept his fans in suspense in the “Round of 14”. Velarde had provided an excellent time and the Styrian couldn’t keep up with him in the first part of the course. But split time after split time, Arch continuously got faster and finally defeated the Spaniard by three tenths of a second. German Matthias Dolderer also showed a top performance at his home race, delivering the fastest time of the “Round of 14” and winning over strong American Michael Goulian who also reached the next round as the “fastest loser”. Nigel Lamb who had won the qualifying with an outstanding time conceded a 2-second penalty after incorrect level flying at air gate 11 and had to let Martin Sonka go first.
In the “Round of 8”, Hannes Arch delivered his personal best time of the race weekend but couldn’t clear the hurdle and reach the finals as Australian Matt Hall was two milliseconds faster – the tiniest margin of all Red Bull Air Race knock-out duels in this season! World Championship leader Matthias Dolderer managed to beat Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) and now met Matt Hall, Pete McLeod (CAN), and Martin Sonka in the finals. This gave him the opportunity to extend his lead over Hannes Arch in the world ranking – by how many points, this was to be decided in the thrilling final round.
At the “Final 4”, it was again Matt Hall who provided a very fast time. Urged by the fanatic crowd to show a top performance, Matthias Dolderer fought with the bit between the teeth but couldn’t outmatch the Australian. Dolderer got second and took 12 points out of this sixth stage of the season still leading the ranking with a comfortable lead. Earning 15 points, Matt Hall passed Hannes Arch in the overall ranking.
This trio from Germany, Australia and Austria will now fight for the title at the final two stages at Indianapolis (October 1 & 2, 2016) and Las Vegas (October 15 & 16, 2016). Arch theoretically still has the chance to win the crown of the ultimate motorsport series in the air, recapping the race weekend optimistically: “Though we had the third-best time in the Round of 8, unfortunately it was not enough to improve our situation in the ranking. But we’re still on the forefront, we’re still motivated, and we’ll put the pedal to the metal at the final two races!”
Red Bull Air Race World Championship Ranking 2016 (after 6 of 8 races): 1. Matthias Dolderer (GER, 65.25 points), 2. Matt Hall (AUS, 48.75), 3. Hannes Arch (AUT, 41) 4. Kirby Chambliss (USA, 30.25), 5. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA, 30), 6. Martin Sonka (CZE, 27), 7. Nigel Lamb (GBR, 25.75), 8. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN, 25.50), 9. Pete McLeod (CAN, 21.50), 10. Michael Goulian (USA, 18.75), 11. Juan Velarde (ESP, 11.25), 12. Francois Le Vot (FRA, 10), 13. Peter Podlunsek (SLO, 4), 14. Petr Kopfstein (CZE, 2)