Now in his second season as a Challenger Class pilot, Baptiste Vignes is a World, European and French National champion in aerobatics – as well as a professional flight instructor and coach – who joined the Red Bull Air Race as a way to combine his passions for motorsport racing and aerobatics. A highlight of his 2018 calendar is the Red Bull Air Race debut in France, his first home race.
"It's an honour to represent my country, and it is amazing to have a race in France," Vignes says. "Cannes not only has a wonderful sea view, but it also represents beauty, glamour, love and passion! Everything together makes it a historic, exciting, perfect first French Red Bull Air Race stop."
Born in Calais in 1985, Vignes first sat in a cockpit at age 14. He received his pilot's license in 2002, securing his initial aerobatics qualification and launching into competition in 2004. Vignes clinched a European Advanced Team Championship in 2009 as part of the French contingent; won dual Advanced World Championships in 2010 by taking the team title and defeating 82 other pilots to claim the individual crown; and took home another gold medal from the European Advanced Team Championship in 2011. Now a member of the French Unlimited team – the sport's highest level – his best World Championship result in the category has been eighth. In addition, he was awarded yet another World Championship as coach of France's Advanced team in 2016. Further, the pilot is deeply involved in support and advocacy for the French association for families dealing with Kleefstra Syndrome.
Vignes earned his commercial pilot's license and also became a flight instructor in 2009. The Frenchman's progress in his first year of Air Racing was steady and strong, improving placement with every race and capping off his season with his maiden podium: second place in Kazan, Russia.
"To be part of the Challenger Class in 2017 was a huge experience. I learned a great deal in racing against those pilots, and thanks also to the coaches' feedback," Vignes mentions. "I want to improve a lot, and in 2018 I'd be very happy to add more podiums to my young career as an Air Racing pilot."