After the first two races it seemed the battle for the title would pick up where the 2010 season left off, with defending World Champion Paul Bonhomme (GBR) and 2008 World Champion Hannes Arch (AUT) in close contention once again. But that all changed when Bonhomme claimed two uncharacteristic fifth place finishes in Putrajaya and Gdynia, enabling Arch – who has remained in the top two throughout the season – to take a safe 13 point lead ahead of his British rival.
To add another element into the mix, the standardisation of the engines and the changes to the rules and regulations have opened up the playing field and caused upheaval in the rankings. Both Abu Dhabi and Rovinj saw fresh faces on the podium in the form of Pete McLeod (CAN) and Yoshihide Muroya (JAP) respectively. But the biggest twist of all came when Nigel Lamb (GBR) returned from his disappointment in Rovinj to take his first ever win in Putrajaya followed by second place in Gdynia, putting him just three points behind fellow Brit Bonhomme.
Another big player to keep an eye on this season is Matt Hall (AUS). The Australian Top Gun is slowly but surely making his way up the standings having taken fourth place in Abu Dhabi and third places in both Putrajaya and Gdynia.
With Arch leading the standings with 42 points, Bonhomme – now with 29 points – will have to pull out all the stops to reclaim his place atop the rankings. But with increased pressure from Lamb and Hall, there will be no room for error when the Red Bull Air Race World Championship continues over the beautiful English town of Ascot.
Qualifying takes place on Saturday 16 August, followed by Race Day on Sunday 17 August. Tickets available now.