The 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship is underway and, for the first time in eight year, it’ll be coming back to San Diego, CA. The Air Race came to town for the first time in 2007, then again in 2008, and 2009. After an eight year hiatus, the competition will come to San Diego for its second stop on April 15th and 16th.
Today, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship is known as the fastest and most exhilarating motorsport competition ever. The competition was conceptualized in 2002, and executed for the first time in 2003. The concept was to create the most advanced aerial challenge in existence, and the expectations were quickly met and exceeded. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship quickly gaining mass interest from pilots and fans alike.
This race is now a huge spectacle with its combination of low altitude, high speed, and extreme maneuverability. These characteristics are what attract the top 14 pilots in the world to spend months fighting to win the title of World Champion.
In order to win, these pilots must navigate their way around an aerial racetrack, maneuvering through 82 feet high pylons with minimal spacing and extreme accuracy. The goal of each race is to get the highest points by flying the fastest possible time and collecting the least amount of penalties. At the end of each Race Day, pilots are awarded points based on which place they finished in, and at the end of the nine month race season, the pilot with the greatest number of points is named the Red Bull Air Race World Champion.
Master Class Category
The Master Class category is the group of pilots all spectators come to see. They’re the best of the best, and the ones battling for the title of 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Champion. Here’s a rundown of what these pilots’ schedule looks like:
- Training – The two days before Qualifying Day, all pilots must attend a minimum of two of the four training sessions. All pilots are to be at the final one, which determines the starting order for Qualifying Day.
- Qualifying Day (Day 1) – This day takes place the day before the official race start. Spectators gather around to watch the two mandatory qualifying sessions, with the best times continuing on to better brackets for race day.
- Race Day (Day 2) – There are three rounds on race day.
- Round of 14: All competitors battle for one of the top spots in this round. The fastest seven in each heat, as well as the fastest last place, move on to Round of 8.
- Round of 8: The top 8 competitors participate in this penultimate race. The four fastest pilots will advance to the final round.
- Final 4: This is the most exciting race for spectators. The four fastest from Round of 8 face off to see who places 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
The Challenger Cup
In addition to the competition to become the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Champion, there is another race which takes place during each event: The Challenger Cup. This is a division of newer pilots who are just dipping their toes in the world of thrilling motor sports. In this division, nine pilots race to develop their low altitude flying skills within racing conditions. By adding this introduction to the sport, safety is increased as pilots get a taste of the true competition before entering the Master Class category.
2017 Competition Recap
With only one stop under their belt, the pilots are all standing an equal shot at first place for the 2017 season. Thus far Martin Sonka from the Czech Republic is in first with 15 points, followed by Juan Velarde of Spain with 12 points, and Pete McLeod of Canada with 9 points.
Cirrus Aircraft is sponsoring Michael Goulian, who took 6th place in Abu Dhabi, but has much higher expectations for his time in San Diego. After taking home the first DHL Fastest Lap of the season, Goulian and the entire Cirrus team are eager for the next race to be under way.
If you’re interested in attending the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship event in San Diego, tickets can be found here: https://www.universe.com/users/red-bull-air-race-san-diego-4TR9SB.