Hannes Arch of Austria has been waiting since 2010 to defend his status as the the only Red Bull Air Race pilot ever to win a race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, and this weekend he’ll finally get his chance. Currently holding the number two spot in the overall standings behind Germany’s own Matthias Dolderer with only three races to go, it’s also a critical moment in Arch’s campaign to earn the second world title of his career.
“In 2010, Lausitz was a race that showed the potential of air racing,” says Arch, who in 2008 became the first European to win the world championship. “Also, it was the last race [of the season], and for most of us it seemed that it would be the last race forever – to win this race was for me really important... I have very good memories.”
The 2010 season finale at the oval formerly known as the Lausitzring was an absolute nail-biter, with Arch and Britain’s Paul Bonhomme going head-to-head for the world championship title. In the end, because Bonhomme came into the event with the overall lead, his second place finish behind Arch was enough to give Team Bonhomme the championship, but Arch’s race win had the German-speaking crowd roaring.
It was after the Lausitz race that the Red Bull Air Race went on a three-year hiatus; but when the world championship fired up again in 2014, Arch decided to launch back into the mix, becoming the most decorated pilot in the current lineup.
Like the first race in Lausitz, the stop at the EuroSpeedway this weekend will demonstrate the top thrills – and skills – of Air Racing, this time on a particularly technical and difficult track with 15 Air Gates and two high-G turning maneuvers. After managing to claim third place at the previous stop in Ascot despite problems with their raceplane, Team Hannes Arch Racing 22 has been hard at work to ameliorate the technical issues, and their mindset is thoroughly motivated.
“We had to repair our engine as it was broken in Ascot,” Arch explained during the short three-week pause between races. “The plane will be ready for Lausitz.”