Red Bull Air Race at Lake Balaton

Budapest used to be the home of the Hungarian race of the Red Bull Air Race, but in 2019 the event had been organised at a different location on the 13th and 14th of July – at Lake Balaton near Zamárdi. The track was different from the one whe used to in Budapest, where the river Danube restricted the possibilities of a more complicated venue. The current track was 4.7 kilometers long and proved to be much more technical, there were several time penalties during both days.

The Czech Martin Sonka placed 1st on qualification day, he completed the track in 57.820 seconds. Juan Valverde (58.203) placed 2nd, and Mika Brageot (58.847) placed 3rd. Yoshide Muroya – who won the first two races of the 2019 Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi and Kazan – received an extra 4 seconds of penalties, which resulted him placing 9th. According to a new rule, the pilots placed in the top 3 of the qualification are also rewarded with points. Because of this, Sonka closed the gap between him and Muroya to only 6 points.

Martin Sonka was the fastest on the qualifying day

With a win on Sunday Muroya could have already sealed the world championship trophy, but he played it too safe and got eliminated against Matt Hall in the first round of the Race Day.

Muroya got eliminated in the first round

Advancing to the final four already meant Sonka will take over Muroya’s first place on the table, so according to him he had no pressure before the final against Pete McLeod, Ben Murphy and Matt Hall. But the Czech pilot hit a pilon which resulted in a 3 seconds penalty, that made it impossible to reach the times of the other three pilots who were all below 59 seconds. Finally, the race was won by the Australian Matt Hhall (58.839), the British Ben Murphy (58.957) placed second, it was the first time for him placing in the top 3. The third place was taken by the Canadian Pete McLeod (58.966), being only 9 thousandth of a second slower than Murphy.

The podium of the 2019 Red Bull Air Race in Hungary (from left to right: Ben Murphy, Matt Hall and Pete McLeod)

Currently there are three pilots battling for the world champion title, Martin Sonka is on top with 65 points, followed by Matt Hall (61) and Yoshide Muroya (55). Thus the final race of the season in Chiba is also expected to be exciting, where Muroya will have the privilige of flying in his home country.

This was the last Red Bull Air Race in Hungary, as the officials decided to end the series after the 2019 season. Since 2003, more than 90 Air Races took place at different places of the world. Red Bull stated that despite the high quality sports experience, there was not as much interest in the series as in other events of the company.

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