German pilot Bergér goes back-to-back with victory in Kazan

Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team

At the Red Bull Air Race stop in Kazan, Russia on Sunday, German pilot Florian Bergér flew for the first time since the opener in Abu Dhabi and clinched his second win of the season. South Africa’s Patrick Davidson nearly snatched the trophy from the German with a breathtaking second-place effort, while Hong Kong’s Kenny Chiang, who had won the first race of the Kazan double-header on Saturday, stood on the podium again in third.

Kazan, Russia

Weather conditions were fickle as six Challenger Class pilots sped through the same difficult racetrack that is flown by the World Championship contenders over the Kazanka River. Bergér, who had not participated in Saturday’s opening Challenger Class race in Kazan, had the luck to enter the track when winds were nearly calm on Sunday, but it was his strikingly smooth, efficient flying that clinched the early race lead, with a time of 1:08.360. Flying fourth, Chiang led in the early splits, but a miscalculated heading out of a Vertical Turning Manoeuvre saw him slip back to 1:08.760. The last to fly, Davidson knew he had the race in his hands, and the South African went all out, very nearly nipping Bergér at the Finish Gate, a mere 0.065s behind.

– Currently in his fifth season, Bergér is the only two-time winner of the Challenger Cup, and his triumph in Kazan brought his career race win tally to eight. Davidson, meanwhile, flew his first full season in the sport just last year, and has already claimed three race podiums. Chiang completed a perfect set of Kazan medals with his third place, having earned his first race win in the Tatarstan capital in 2017, a second place result in 2018, and his additional win on Saturday.

– Rounding out the Challenger Class field on Sunday were Baptiste Vignes of France, Sammy Mason of  the USA and Patrick Strasser of Austria.

– Introduced in 2014 as the official feeder category of the Red Bull Air Race, the Challenger Cup was created to help the next generation of talented pilots build their skills. This season, the Challenger Class includes 12 pilots, who will each fly in three races. 

– The racing continues in Kazan on Sunday afternoon with the Master Class race for World Championship points. Then, the Red Bull Air Race moves on to a debut at Lake Balaton, Hungary on 13-14 July. It’s a critical stop: another double-header for the Challenger Class, as well as the penultimate race for the 2019 World Championship.

Florian Bergér (GER): “My plan had been to expect high winds in the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre, but it felt smooth in cockpit, much different than I expected. So you have to make a late decision. It’s not easy, but you have to have a plan B and stick to Plan B in the end. The race was super, super close, so it was very exciting to watch. There is always luck involved, and I had it today. You have to do a good motor setup, and when you don’t make too many mistakes and you are lucky with the weather, it all works out.”

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Results Challenger Class Kazan 2, 2019:  1. Florian Bergér (GER) 1:08.360, 2. Patrick Davidson (RSA) 1:08.425, 3. Kenny Chiang (HKG)  1:08.760, 4. Baptiste Vignes (FRA) 1:09.341, 5. Sammy Mason (USA) 1:09.537, 6. Patrick Strasser (AUT) 1:12.351

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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