At the end of the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season, Martin Sonka was tipped to become one to watch in 2016. However, he had a season he wanted to forget, saying it was a year in which he had "collected every penalty in the rules." This year, however, he has started in perfect form by winning the season opener in Abu Dhabi.
Sonka had a new raceplane at the start of 2016 and it took a long time and a lot of work to get it where he wanted, but it has begun to pay off for the Czech pilot. After the win in Abu Dhabi he said: "It's a beautiful feeling, and it's something like a drug; you want it again and again. I already know I want this feeling as soon as possible, but I know all the other pilots want the same. So it's a tough and hard job."
Sonka joined the Red Bull Air Race in 2010, and said his goal had always been to win. "It's been the plan for many races, but this is the first time it's worked. The team worked very well and the raceplane behaved as we wanted, everything was there," he said.
After what was to be his winning flight, Sonka landed back at the race airport unaware he had won. "When I opened the canopy we still didn't know the result, and a few seconds later we all heard it together, it was incredible and for me it was like a joke. I couldn't understand that it was true, because it's been my goal for such a long time, and now I've experienced this with my team it's amazing."
Twelve months ago Sonka was disqualified for crossing the safety line on Race Day, he puts that down to a difficult track and the fact that his raceplane wasn't set to how he flies. "It's been very hard work. Last season we started with the raceplane that had been set up for Peter Besenyei, so it wasn't my aeroplane, but this season we're starting with it set to how I fly. I have to say that I like everything on the aeroplane because it's set to me, I'm much more comfortable," said Sonka. "Last year I got DQ'd for crossing the safety line, and it was very similar this year, so I had to be careful not to do the same again. I was afraid I would, but it was fortunate it didn't happen and everything went perfectly," he concluded.
Next up for Red Bull Team Sonka is San Diego on 15-16 April, and you can be there, get your tickets NOW.