Courtesy of Red Bull Air Race Media Service
All year, gamers have been racing through virtual versions of the international tracks flown by the pilots of the Red Bull Air Race in Red Bull Air Race – 2. The top seven scorers faced off at the USA’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 14-15 October to decide the Virtual World Championship in the shadow of the real season finale. The 2017 champion is Manuel Fähndrich of Austria, and there may be a dynasty in the making: the 14-year-old is the son of Werner Pany, who won the title last year.
INDIANAPOLIS (USA) – Launched in 2015, the Virtual World Championship recreates similar racetracks to those flown by the real World Championship teams. Players from all over the globe compete against each other at each accurately recreated location in an attempt to claim real-life prizes and become the Virtual World Champion. In 2017, Red Bull Air Race – 2 has given gamers the chance to race at exciting locations from San Diego, USA to Kazan, Russia. And after seven races, it all came down to the season finale at the holy grail of motorsport. Tension was high, because the winner would earn not only the 2017 title, but also the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of a real G-flight with a Red Bull Air Race pilot.
The rival family members from Austria both made it into the Indianapolis final, as well as Johannes Kiesewetter of Germany, Rostislav Halachev of Bulgaria, Jiri Martan of the Czech Republic, Daniel Hable of Austria and Philipp Mauser of Germany. Just like the pilots of the real-life World Championship, the gamers battled in a Qualifying session, and they also toured the raceplane hangars and watched the racing action. On Sunday, after three tense elimination rounds that each cut one virtual pilot, the Final 4 was set: Father and son Pany and Fähndrich, plus their fellow Austrian Hable and Germany’s Mauser.
And that’s where the teenager shined, with a time of 1:11.725 on the virtual Indianapolis racetrack. Mauser earned second with 1:12.762 and Hable took third with 1:13.957, leaving Pany off the podium in fourth. But despite seeing his championship year coming to an end, the Austrian father seemed happy and proud.
Watching his son receiving top honors from 2006 Red Bull Air Race World Champion Kirby Chambliss of the USA, Pany said, “I’m happy for my son,” and added, “It runs in the family!”
Fähndrich was elated. “It feels amazing to be the Virtual World Champion! I was really excited and hoping I wasn’t going to make a pylon hit.” Teasing his father, he said, “It feels good that I beat him this year.”
Mauser and Hable, meanwhile, hinted that they’ll be looking to claim the Virtual World Championship for themselves next year.
“It was a great pleasure to be back in the seat at the Red Bull Air Race. This is the second time I’ve finished second, and I was hoping to be one better, but of course I’m quite happy. Next year I’ll be here winning first!” declared Mauser.
Hable chimed in, “I was fourth last year, so it’s very good to be third place this year and I hope to be higher next year.”
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.