Courtesy of Red Bull Air Race Media Service Team
Poland’s Luke Czepiela had the run of his Red Bull Air Race career in the Challenger Class race at Budapest on Sunday, winning by almost 1.5 seconds over the rest of the international field. Two-time Challenger Cup Champion Florian Bergér of Germany was second, and at third, Hungary’s own Daniel Genevey earned his first-ever race podium in front of a massive home crowd.
Budapest, Hungary– Czepiela finished second to Bergér in Budapest last year, and it looked like this weekend’s race over the Danube was heading in the same direction when the German and the Pole went one-two in Saturday’s Qualifying. But in ideal Race Day conditions, Czepiela threw down the gauntlet with a track record time for the Challenger Class of 1:01.968s, and despite flying cleanly, Bergér could manage only 1:03.396, with Genevey close behind at 1:03.568.
“It felt almost perfect, maybe one or two turns that were a little bit crude, but 1:01 for the Challenger Class is a stunning result and not far from some of the Master Class times, so I’m super happy with it,” said Czepiela, who moved to the top of the Challenger Class season standings and is now tied in the points with Bergér at 18 each. “I changed my Vertical Turning Maneuver, which was a risk, but it worked.”
When asked if the result proved that Bergér can be beaten for this season’s Challenger Cup, Czepiela responded, “I think I’ve put a lot of pressure on him. He’s an excellent pilot, but having the advantage of 1.4 seconds over him will make his confidence not so high, and then I can put more pressure on him in the next races.”
Meanwhile, Genevey was savoring his first podium and said, “I’m so happy to have this happen at home. It’s really what I wanted to do, flying clean and making no mistakes, and I’m very glad that I could do that step by step with every flight, with my best time on Race Day. For the future I want to do the same – and faster.”
The Challenger Class was introduced in 2014 as the second competition category of the Red Bull Air Race, designed to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship. Ten Challenger Class pilots make up the roster this season, with each flying a minimum of four races throughout the eight-stop season. Completing the lineup in Budapest were Mélanie Astles and Baptiste Vignes of France as well as Kenny Chiang, the first pilot from China in the Red Bull Air Race.
Russia is next! The Red Bull Air Race returns to the country’s sports capital, Kazan, on 25-26 August to kick off the second half of the season.
Be there: Tickets for the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship – including the race right in front of Kazan’s Kremlin – are on sale now. For more information on tickets and all the latest, visit www.redbullairrace.com
Results Challenger Class, Budapest 2018: 1. Luke Czepiela (POL) 1:01.968, 2. Florian Bergér (GER) 1:03.396, 3. Daniel Genevey (HUN) 1:03.568, 4. Mélanie Astles (FRA) 1:03.920, 5. Baptiste Vignes (FRA) 1:03.999, 6. Kenny Chiang (CHN) 1:06.448
Overall standings, Challenger Cup 2018:1. Luke Czepiela (POL) 18 points, 2. Florian Bergér (GER) 18 pts, 3. Daniel Ryfa (SWE) 12 pts, 4. Baptiste Vignes (FRA) 10 pts, 5. Dario Costa (ITA) 10 pts, 6. Mélanie Astles (FRA) 8 pts, 7. Daniel Genevey (HUN) 6 pts, 8. Kevin Coleman (USA) 6 pts, 9. Patrick Davidson (RSA) 2 pts, 10. Kenny Chiang (CHN) 0
Red Bull Air Race 2018 Calendar
2-3 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
20-22 April: Cannes, France
26-27 May: Chiba, Japa
23-24 June: Budapest, Hungary
25-26 August: Kazan, Russia
15-16 September: Wiener Neustadt, Austria
6-7 October: Indianapolis, USA
About Red Bull Air Race
Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship has held more than 80 races around the globe. 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 370 kmh while enduring forces of up to 12G 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.