Courtesy of Red Bull Media Room
China’s Kenny Chiang wrote his name in aviation history on Sunday by capturing China’s first-ever Red Bull Air Race win with a Challenger Class triumph at the series debut in Russia. Flying in the sporting capital of Kazan, Baptiste Vignes of France captured his own maiden podium with second place, and the USA’s Kevin Coleman earned third.
The Challenger Class gives standout pilots a training ground for building their skills with experience including competition in actual race conditions, and Chiang’s win was especially remarkable because the stop in Russia was only the third of his career. Flying first in calm winds but a light drizzle, the 27-year-old stopped the clock with an impressive 1:07.264 and then waited anxiously as his five opponents took the track, one by one. Flying immediately afterward, Vignes, who is also in his first year of racing, was just a second behind at 1:08.265, while the more experienced Coleman, who most recently earned a podium at the April race in San Diego, had a result of 1:08.965.
“It feels incredible, unbelievable. The pressure was immense, and I’m quite surprised and really happy. Congratulations to Baptiste, too – it’s special to see two new Challengers on the podium,” said Chiang, who brings a substantial background in commercial and aerobatic flying to his new pursuit of Air Racing. “In this game experience really counts, and maybe I got a little lucky today. I’m just trying to get better and better in the plane. It’s still not the perfect lap and I will continue to work on it, but I do think it gives me more momentum.”
Also vying for the Kazan podium were Challengers Mélanie Astles (FRA), and Ben Murphy (GBR) Daniel Ryfa (SWE), with the Master Class race for the first World Championship points ever awarded in Russia to follow on Sunday afternoon.
The Red Bull Air Race will next make a long-awaited return to scenic Porto, Portugal for the sixth stop of the season on 2-3 September 2017.
Reserve your seat! Tickets for the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship are on sale now. For more information on tickets and all the latest, visit www.redbullairrace.com
Results Challenger Class, Kazan 2017: 1. Kenny Chiang (CHN) 1:07.264, 2. Baptiste Vignes (FRA) 1:08.265, 3. Kevin Coleman (USA) 1:08.965, 4. Mélanie Astles (FRA) 1:09.505, 5. Ben Murphy (GBR) 1:09.987, 6. Daniel Ryfa (SWE) 1:14.115
Overall standings, Challenger Cup 2017: 1. Florian Bergér (GER) 28 points, 2. Daniel Ryfa (SWE) 24 pts, 3. Luke Czepiela (POL) 24 pts, 4. Kevin Coleman (USA) 16 pts, 5. Baptiste Vignes (FRA) 14 pts, 6. Kenny Chiang (CHN) 12 pts, 7. Mélanie Astles (FRA) 12 pts, 8. Ben Murphy (GBR) 12 pts, 9. Daniel Genevey (HUN) 8 pts
About Red Bull Air Race:
Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship celebrated its landmark 75th race at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.