Luke Czepiela wowed the crowds in Budapest when he took the race win in fine style and 1.4s faster than his closest rival.
Czepiela last won in Budapest last year and was desperate for a win this year. It was only his second race of 2018. He finished second at the season opener but went one better here.
The Polish pilot has a unique strategy in race week, he always starts slow and then builds up his lines and his confidence as the race week goes on and is often successful on Sunday. But this race in particular is special to Czepiela.
"It feels amazing," said Czepiela straight after the race. "I'm in Budapest every six months because I work for an Hungarian airline so I feels like a home race to me."
Czepiela believes that the reason he starts badly is because there's no pressure. It seems he thrives in high-pressure situations. "It was a disappointing start of the week, as it always is. But I don't do well in Free Practice where there's not a lot of pressure; maybe I'm too relaxed. I was making a lot of mistakes, but as soon as the pressure increases I was getting better," he explained. "I was second in Quali and then winning, I'm very happy with how it went – it's much better to happen this way around. The flight felt almost perfect, maybe one or two turns that were a little bit crude but 1:01 for the Challenger Class is a stunning result and not far from some of the Master Class pilots' times, so I'm super happy with it. I couldn't believe it when Steve [Jones, the Race Director] told me it was a one minute, one second run."
Czepiela said that in the race he flew Bonhomme-style, in reference to the three-time World Champion's smoothness in the track. "I was super relaxed, smooth with the controls and I was smiling as I entered the track I was loose in the body and loose in my mind and that's what gave me the amazing time," he explained.
The Challengers head to Russia next for their fourth race of the season and this result, in Czepiela's eyes has blown the competition wide open. "I think I've put a lot of pressure on him [Florian Bergér], he's an excellent pilot, but having the advantage of 1.4s over him will make his confidence not so high and then I can put more pressure on him in the next races. We've been battling for a season now, so this has also given me a confidence boost for the rest of the season," concluded Czepiela.
The Russian round of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes place in Kazan on 25-26 August, get your tickets HERE.