Japan's epic Mt Fuji makes big impression on pilots

Big skies and big dreams in Japan

With its stunningly symmetrical volcanic cone, Japan's Mount Fuji may just be the most recognised mountain in the world, making it the perfect scenic backdrop for the Red Bull Air Race pilots to witness on their way to the third round of the 2016 World Championship.

Nigel Lamb of Great Britain, Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic and home hero Yoshihide 'Yoshi' Muroya got a breathtakingly fresh perspective of the iconic peak.

Ahead of the second-ever Red Bull Air Race World Championship stop in Chiba this weekend, Muroya led his peers on a reconnaissance flight to take in the iconic snow-capped summit from their raceplanes.

Designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, 'Fuji-san' is Japan's highest mountain at 3,776 metres (12,389 feet) in height, and it's also an active volcano; a potent symbol of the race to come this weekend. At the third stop of the eight-race season, fourteen pilots who have climbed to the pinnacle of their elite motorsport will erupt into full-throttle action in the attempt to gain crucial World Championship points.

Last year, a sold-out crowd of 120,000 Japanese motorsport fans filled Makuhari Beach on race weekend to see their favourite Muroya in high-speed, low-altitude action at home for the first time. He set the track record on the Tokyo Bay course although he wasn't able to maintain his lucky streak to win the race. This year he intends to use that fan motivation to go all the way to the top of the podium for the first time in his career. Muroya will have a fierce fight from the other standouts in the lineup, such as Šonka and Lamb, as well as the three pilots currently leading the overall standings: Matthias Dolderer of Germany, Nicolas Ivanoff of France and Hannes Arch of Austria.