Balaton win for Australia’s Hall rocks World Championship standings

Courtesy of Red Bull Air Race Media Service

Australian pilot Matt Hall blew the Red Bull Air Race World Championship open on Sunday with a steely win at the sport’s historic first race at Lake Balaton, Hungary. Finishing second, Great Britain’s Ben Murphy clinched the first race podium of his young World Championship career, and in third, Canada’s Pete McLeod grabbed his first race podium since 2018. Meanwhile, an early exit for Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya enabled defending World Champion Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic to jump to the top of the overall standings despite hitting a pylon in the Final 4.

Zamárdi, Hungary

– 100,000 spectators on the beaches of the resort town of Zamárdi got a thrilling introduction to the 370 km/h sport on 13-14 July, as fickle winds that went from blustery to calm defied the 14 pilots of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the racetrack over Lake Balaton. After winning the initial two races of the season, Muroya hoped to wrap up the World Championship in Hungary, but it was not to be, as he lost his opening round head-to-head against Hall, a three-time overall runner-up who had declared his intention to win the season’s last two races and claim the title.  

– By the Final 4, Šonka already knew that he would be taking the overall lead from Muroya, but by how much? Hall, Murphy and McLeod all managed times under 59 seconds, with Hall the best at 58.839, just 0.118s ahead of the former Red Arrows Team Leader Murphy. In a rare lapse of concentration, Šonka failed to capitalise on the chance to take maximum points, clipping a pylon in only the fourth gate, for a three-second penalty and a finish at 1:02.391.

– Now it all comes down to the last race of 2019, the season finale in Chiba, Japan on 7-8 September. A possible 28 points is on offer for Muroya’s home race: 3 points for the winner of Qualifying plus 25 points for the race winner. Šonka’s overall lead is precarious, at 65 points to 61 for Hall and 55 for Muroya. Also, a slew of contenders, including Murphy and 2018 overall podium finisher Michael Goulian of the USA, are in position to seize a place in the top three. Muroya has won 50 percent of his previous races in Chiba, but last year it was Hall who triumphed there, with Šonka in third and Muroya in a surprising last place. 

Stay current with all the developments as the Red Bull Air Race charges toward September’s season finale at

Matt Hall (AUS): “That was good. I pushed pretty hard there, and I took all the angles I could. I could feel the gates going past, I could feel them whooshing past the winglets. That was about all I had in this track.  I just knew I had to go for it, because there’s no point in coming in second with the points at the moment. I have clawed back on Martin, and I’ve definitely clawed back on Yoshi. It means going into this race in Chiba will be… not fun, but exciting. She’s a tight race.”

Results Master Class, Lake Balaton 2019: 1. Matt Hall (AUS), 2. Ben Murphy (GBR), 3. Pete McLeod (CAN), 4. Martin Šonka (CZE), 5. Juan Velarde (ESP), 6. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 7. Michael Goulian (USA), 8. Cristian Bolton (CHI), 9. Petr Kopfstein (CZE), 10. Mika Brageot (FRA), 11. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 12. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 13. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 14. François Le Vot (FRA)

World Championship standings after three races:1. Martin Šonka (CZE) 65 points, 2. Matt Hall (AUS) 61 pts, 3. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 55 points, 4. Ben Murphy (GBR) 37 pts, 5. Michael Goulian (USA) 37 pts, 6. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 33 pts, 7. Juan Velarde (ESP) 32 pts, 8. Mika Brageot (FRA) 31 pts, 9. Pete McLeod (CAN) 30 pts, 10. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 26 pts, 11. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 24 pts, 12. François Le Vot (FRA) 21 pts, 13. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 10 pts, 14. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 4 pts

Red Bull Air Race 2019 Calendar
8-9 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
15-16 June: Kazan, Russia
13-14 July: Lake Balaton, Hungary
7-8 September: Chiba, Japan

About Red Bull Air Race
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is an aerial motorsport series that demands a combination of speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, high performance raceplanes, pilots compete in iconic locations over water and land. The high speed, low altitude and extreme manoeuvrability required make it accessible only to the world’s most exceptional pilots.

Flying just metres from the ground, 14 Master Class pilots race against the clock whilst reaching speeds of up to 370 km/h, requiring a combination of precision and skill unmatched in the world of aviation. Pilots must be in peak physical condition as they endure forces up to 12G while navigating the technical racetracks made up of air-filled pylons.

The Air Race was developed in 2003 and is accredited by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), with more than 90 races completed across five continents. As the most advanced aerial challenge in existence, competing in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship is the highest accolade for elite pilots. A Challenger Cup feeder series was introduced in 2014.

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