Winning in the Red Bull Air Race comes down to hundredths of a second. So the world-class pilots that compete need to have the best, in terms of technology and aircraft.
Peter Besenyei has competed in every single race since the championship began and is still joint third on the most race victories list. In recent seasons however he has seen the competition catch up and overtake him, so it was time to make a change.
This change has come in the form of a new raceplane – an Edge 540 V3 – the most popular aircraft in the championship. It replaces his Corvus Racer 540 (which was the only non-American aircraft in the series), and although Besenyei is thrilled with his new aircraft, he's sad that the Corvus never quite cut it in the Red Bull Air Race. "I must say the Hungarian aeroplane was really nice. It wasn't only good looking, it was lovely to fly," explained Besenyei. "But because of the profile of the wing and the fuselage it wasn't ideal for the Red Bull Air Race. It's a super aerobatic aircraft and really nice to fly. But I was losing almost a second on each vertical turning manoeuvre," he added.
It was a tough choice for the Hungarian pilot, was he to stick with the Corvus and fly the flag for Hungary, or was he to try and start winning again? Eventually his competitive streak shone through. "Last winter I had to make a decision – I chose the Edge V3," said Besenyei. "I will have much more chance – I'm human, I can still make a mistake, but I will have a chance. Even if I flew my best in the Corvus, I didn't have a chance," he explained.
Besenyei has competed in many different aircraft during the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, the V3 will be his seventh. He flew the Edge V2 (still flown by Paul Bonhomme, Michael Goulian and François Le Vot) in the '06, '07 and '08 seasons, so he knows the characteristics of the Zivko machine. "I've competed with a V2 which was a brilliant raceplane. The new V3 will be even better," said Besenyei.
Besenyei who only saw his finished aircraft for the first time last week explained that he is going to have to fly it 'straight out of the box': "We have no time for testing or modifying, but after the race in Budapest we will be able to work on it.
"It looks good and it looks fast. I love the new dynamic style of the paint scheme and I think the people will love it as well," he concluded.