For the first time in Red Bull Air Race history, the current World Champion will not be returning to defend his title. Paul Bonhomme's 2015 retirement has left the door wide open this season. But who were the top five performers who could snatch victory this year? Here's our rundown...
The Australian pilot had an epic 2015 and was a fixture on the podium in all but one race, including two race wins in Spielberg and Vegas. His strategy for 2016 is once again consistency, and if the Australian can keep up the momentum from last season he could well find himself in the top spot for this year's rankings.
2 race wins (Spielberg, Las Vegas)
4 2nd place finishes (Abu Dhabi, Chiba, Ascot, Fort Worth)
1 3rd place finish (Rovinj)
The 2008 World Champion looked back to his best at Rovinj and Budapest, but failed to keep that momentum going. He has taken time out in the winter break and promises to return reinvigorated for 2016. Arch knows how to win and will be looking to claim back his former title.
2 race wins (Rovinj, Budapest)
2015 proved to be a breakthrough year for the Czech pilot. He collected two podium finishes and two more Final 4 positions, and in Rovinj just missed out on his first race win by just 0.071s. He'll be more than hungry to take that top spot in 2016, and it seems that things can only get better for Sonka.
1 2nd place finish (Rovinj)
1 3rd place finish (Budapest)
The German pilot started the season well with a third place at the second stop in Chiba, but struggled to keep the pressure on the other pilots mid-season. He went on to post the quickest time in Fort Worth Qualifying, and followed up with another podium finish at the final race of the season in Las Vegas. Dolderer is focused on the race win, wants that 2016 title and will be working hard to claim it.
2 3rd place finishes (Chiba, Las Vegas)
Muroya swapped his raceplane for the second race of the season and the positive effect on his performance was almost instantaneous. Now, with a season's worth of experience with his new aircraft, the super-cool, calm and collected Muroya will be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.
2 3rd place finishes (Ascot, Fort Worth)