Kopfstein lays down a pair of aces in training

Challenger Cup pilots take to the track in the Nevada desert

Challengers fight it out for the 2015 title in Las Vegas

In the opening line of action for the Red Bull Air Race season finale in Las Vegas, USA, Petr Kopfstein of the Czech Republic laid his cards on the table with the fastest times across both of Friday's Challenger Class Training sessions: 58.792 and 58.232 seconds.

With a time of 59.918 in Training 1, Frenchman Mikael Brageot was the only other Challenger to break the minute mark, while Chile's Cristian Bolton had the third-best result among the pilots at 1:01.626 in Training 2. Daniel Ryfa of Sweden, Peter Podlunsek of Slovenia and Florian Berger of Germany are also playing their hands in the Challenger Class lineup this weekend.

Now completing its second season, the Challenger Cup is a new element of the Red Bull Air Race that was introduced to give the next generation of pilots the opportunity to develop their low-altitude flying skills under racing conditions. The six international Challenger Class pilots at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earned the right to contend in the final based on points amassed throughout the year. The race winner on 18 October will be declared the Challenger Cup Champion – an honour Kopfstein is defending after winning the historic inaugural prize in 2014.

Qualifying gets underway at the US casino capital on Saturday, and the stakes get even higher on Sunday – Race Day – when the titleholders for not only the Challenger Cup but also the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship will be crowned.

Official Training 1 results:

 

 

Official Training 2 results: