As six international raceplane pilots jockeyed for position in the standings during the Challenger Cup final at England's Ascot horseracing track on Saturday, it was Petr Kopfstein of the Czech Republic who broke away for the win with a time of 1:20.776.
Cristian Bolton of Chile placed second in front of the 18,000 cheering fans, while Sweden's Daniel Ryfa, the last to fly was third. The Swedish pilot seemed to have the race in hand, topping Kopfstein's sector times right up until the home stretch of the track where the Swede incurred a penalty that put an end to his hope of winning three consecutive races.
With two wins apiece this season, Ryfa and Kopfstein are neck and neck in the overall points battle, topping the standings with 28 points each.
"The way I think of it, I'm not really racing against Daniel, or the rest of the Challengers, but to gain experience – and this track was a true challenge for us because we didn't have a lot of training. There were a lot of obstacles like trees," said Kopfstein. "I'd never raced or competed in the United Kingdom before, and it was a great pleasure."
The Challenger Cup, now in its second season, is a new element of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship that gives the next generation of pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills under racing conditions. The Challenger Cup pilots will have their next opportunity to earn racing experience, and points, at the sixth stop of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship season in Spielberg, Austria on 5-6 September.
Official Challenger Cup results: