British fans couldn't have asked for more as Paul Bonhomme and Nigel Lamb took a stunning one-two finish at their home race in Ascot this weekend. While Hannes Arch appeared to lose his way in the Super 8, Bonhomme – as a fastest loser from the Top 12 – held his nerve, leaving disappointment from his past two races firmly behind him.
1st PLACE: PAUL BONHOMME
"I wouldn't have backed me for the win! We had some issues during the week. Doing the race from takeoff gave us some issues," Bonhomme explained at the press conference after the race. "I certainly won't be doing any gloating, because as we saw today, and as I've experienced myself, it can change on a sixpence... you blink and it all changes. And who would have thought that Pete would falter? But it's exciting and just awesome for the crowd here.
"I had a nervewracking run through the Top 12... and after that, flew in the Super 8 and heard that Dolderer was faster than me. But that's good for the mind games and we knuckled down and got on with it... the only pressure I felt was from these guys [Lamb and Ivanoff] and the other guys in the hangar.
Barcelona in 2009 would be hard to beat as a highlight... but maybe equal to that is here, because this is just the place to race."
2nd PLACE: NIGEL LAMB
Nigel Lamb's new-found confidence has carried him to three consecutive podiums, bringing the Brit just eight points behind current rankings leader Hannes Arch, and just six points behind his compatriot Bonhomme:
"I was really amazed by how relaxed I felt today and was really looking forward to going out on the track," he said after the race celebrations. "But if you have one soft pull in one place, you might not be on the podium.
"I think Ascot is amazing and hope the Red Bull Air Race here endures. What we do is still a young sport... we all look like we're mates now but on the day we want to beat everybody and it's very small margins. The amount of energy that goes into tiny fractions of a second takes a lot... it's really serious."
3rd PLACE: NICOLAS IVANOFF
France's Nicolas Ivanoff had shown great promise throughout the weekend, and was tipped as one of the outsiders who had the potential to make it all the way to the top of the podium. Edging out Australia's Matt Hall from the Final 4 at the last moment, Ivanoff was the last on the track and brought Dolderer's hopes of taking a podium spot crashing down. But the Frenchman was characteristically bemused by his result:
"I'm really happy to be here with my two English friends. It was a really nice race and a good location with the trees. It was a bit more pressure for me seeing all the people watching me do the landing.
"To be honest, I did not do a good time on the first turn... I don't want to say that I was confident but [I felt] quite relaxed for the next run. You can learn from the first run [in preparation] for the next one.
"I prefer over land, especially here because you can play over the trees and there's more gates in the track."