The ARTO 88 E from Niesmann+Bischoff makes it possible for him to get some much-needed rest even at race venues, in a place he knows, feels comfortable and can really wind down. “It was like this RV was created just for me and my team, and it’s a perfect retreat. It served us well even back in 2015. We couldn’t be more excited about the quality of the ARTO”, raved Hannes about his mobile home. The storage room in this 8.76 meters-long vehicle – with its twin beds and L-shaped sofa, speaks for itself: It’s never been easier or more convenient to stow luggage and sports gear. And with its spacious living area, the RV provides ideal conditions for Hannes Arch to relax before races and extended training sessions, but also to sit down, consult, analyze and discuss tactics with his team.
When it came down to the actual flight time, things went very well, but the placing wasn’t what we expected. Despite his personal best time for this race weekend in Germany, in the “Round of 8” Hannes Arch was unable to make it past Australian Matt Hall into the finals. Just an incredible two one-thousandths of a second – the smallest difference in Red Bull Air Race knock-out duels this season – decided this battle between Austria and Australia. Losing by a hair against the eventual winner of the event was a bitter pill to swallow, but that’s sport for you. Hannes Arch now lies in third place before the two remaining races in the U.S. And his motto will be clear: stay focused, attack and give it everything you’ve got, since your chance at the title is very much alive and well.
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)
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.”
For Hannes Arch, the return of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship to EuroSpeedway Lausitzring means mixed feelings. On the one hand, he won the last race in Germany at the 2010 season’s final. On the other hand, Brit Paul Bonhomme took second place and the 2010 World Championship by only four points ahead of the Styrian. More than 100,000 spectators watched this showdown of the world’s best pilots. After six years of absence, Lausitzring will provide a unique backdrop with tens of thousands of fans again. German fans are looking forward to the return of Red Bull Air Race and will cheer for local hero and world ranking leader Matthias Dolderer. But we have not yet heard the last word on this issue as Hannes Arch is lurking in second place!
Austria vs. Germany, which is always an emotional duel especially in football and skiing, this year also puts up a good fight at the ultimate motor sports series in the air. At Hannes Arch’s home race at Spielberg in April 2016, Matthias Dolderer celebrated his first ever Red Bull Air Race win while Arch got second. After collecting points at Chiba, Budapest and Ascot, the German is now first in the world ranking with an 18.25 point lead. If the Austrian wants to come closer, he has to beat Dolderer at his home race and take revenge for Spielberg. Then, the decision will be made at the last races of the season at Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 1 & 2 and Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 15 & 16, 2016.
Red Bull Air Race World Championship Ranking 2016 (after 5 of 8 races):
1. Matthias Dolderer (GER, 53.25 points), 2. Hannes Arch (AUT, 35), 3. Matt Hall (AUS, 33.75), 4. Kirby Chambliss (USA, 27.25), 5. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA, 26), 6. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN, 25.50), 7. Nigel Lamb (GBR, 24.75), 8. Martin Sonka (CZE, 20), 9. Michael Goulian (USA, 14.75), 10. Pete McLeod (CAN, 12.50), 11. Francois LeVot (FRA, 10), 12. Juan Velarde (ESP, 9.25), 13. Peter Podlunsek (SLO, 4), 14. Petr Kopfstein (CZE, 2)