With just the final to go, Florian Bergér is currently sitting top of the Challenger Cup standings, two points clear on 28 points. So far in his Red Bull Air Race career, Bergér has picked up two championships and six career wins – equal race wins with Daniel Ryfa – the most by any Challenger.
Bergér's first race was Abu Dhabi in 2015 and he instantly left his mark on the series by missing out on a podium finish by under half a second. The same thing happened at race two in Chiba that year as well. The German pilot then collected his first career podium at the penultimate round set in Fort Worth. This was enough to see him go to the winner-takes-all final in Las Vegas where he finished fifth overall.
Since his podium, Bergér has never looked back - he was on a roll. At the season opener in 2016 he finished third behind Ryfa and Kevin Coleman. He followed that up by collecting his first race win in Spielberg. After this race win, he finished fourth and then collected a second and another win. He was leading the standings as the pilots went into the final. However, due to high winds in the Las Vegas desert, the race was cancelled. This gave Bergér his first title. He was happy being crowned the Challenger Cup Champion, but said he would've preferred to win by: "flying the actual race."
When Bergér returned in 2017 he was on fire for the entire season. The rules had been changed for the new season. It wasn't to be a winner-takes-all final. In 2017, all pilots were due to fly five races, with their top four scores counting towards their standings. After the seventh round, the top six were invited to the season final to get the last points added to their season.
Bergér had a season he'll never forget. In his five races he finished second in three and first in two. Going into the season final he was sitting at the top of the standings with 36 points, Ryfa was in second on 34 points, and Czepiela was third on 30. It was anyone's championship as they went to Indianapolis. Once again, due to weather conditions, the race had to be cancelled and the Qualifying times counted, giving Melanie Astles the first win of her career. Bergér finished fourth and only collected two points. However, Ryfa had a two second penalty and finished last, meaning that he handed the championship to Bergér.
So we come to 2018 and it's another learning curve for the Challengers. This year they're flying the Edge 540, and they're setting times close to that of the Master Class pilots, but they're also becoming even more competitive with each other.
Bergér has only raced three times this season and with two wins and a second place finish it sees him in the prime position for his third title in three years.
For Bergér to be guaranteed his third title, he needs to win in Fort Worth. If he finishes second and Kenny Chiang doesn't win, he'll be champion. And if he finishes third (which will be his lowest place for only the second time in two seasons) he can still be champion as long as Chiang or Luke Czepiela don't win.
One thing is certain, it's going to be a tense Challenger Cup finale at the Texas Motor Speedway on 17-18 November. Don't miss out, get your tickets HERE.