Othman charges to the front of the pack

The Malaysian pilot wins the Ascot round and takes his first ever victory in the Challenger Cup

Halim Othman takes the Challenger Cup win at Ascot

As the second half of the 2014 season of the Red Bull Air Race got underway on Saturday at Britain's famed Ascot Racecourse, the Challenger Cup standings got even more interesting, with pilot Halim Othman of Malaysia claiming the top step of the podium. 

A smiling Halim Othman proudly held the flag of Malaysia while his national anthem played at Ascot Racecourse today, as the 48-year-old won the first Challenger Cup podium of his career. The decorated Malaysian air display team leader and former top gun pilot in the Royal Malaysian Air Force put in a strong effort on the first track of the season over land instead of water to jump from last place in the standings to the top six.

The Challenger Cup is a new element of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which gives the next generation of promising pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills under racing conditions. Race Day for the elite Master Class of the world's fastest motorsport series takes place at Ascot on Sunday.

"I'm very happy – I didn't really expect this," he said after congratulating his fellow podium finishers, England's Tom Bennet in second, who got a rousing cheer from the Ascot crowd, and Claudius Spiegel of Germany in third. The Challenger Cup contenders will have their next opportunity to earn points when the Red Bull Air Race comes to Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States in September.