Demo in Dammam brings Air Racing to Saudi Arabia

Red Bull Air Race makes its debut in the largest sovereign state in the Middle East

Spectators in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province are getting a long-awaited first taste of the Red Bull Air Race this weekend, with a special demo of the aerial sport as part of the opening weekend of Sharqiah Season. Over 20,000 spectators are expected as the demos continue at Dammam’s Al-Plaza Beach through Saturday, providing an exciting preview of what’s to come when Saudi Arabia hosts the season finale of the World Championship this November.

In partnership with Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority the Red Bull Air Race Demo in Dammam on 21-23 March introduces all the key features of the three-dimensional motorsport. Baptiste Vignes and Daniel Ryfa will fly through the Air Gates of a custom track in the raceplanes. 

“We are quite impressed with the location, and working with the local organisers and officials has been very easy,” said Red Bull Air Race Head Judge and Challenger Class Race Director Sergio Pla after the first demos thrilled crowds on Thursday, and today. “The track has been tailor-made for this setting, and we can show a little bit of everything we do in an actual race: we have Vertical Turning Manoeuvres, we have our chicane, and the pilots have to find the fastest line. So it’s great, and we’re looking forward to finishing this weekend with a really nice taste of this motorsport for the Saudi people.”

The 2019 calendar has its highly anticipated season finale in Saudi Arabia – where the excitement of the sport’s debut will be doubled as the World Champion is crowned. “We are looking at a very, very competitive season, so I’m sure the World Championship will be decided in that last race,” Pla shares.

Vignes who is flying demos in Dammam this weekend says: “It’s a huge opportunity to be one of the first pilots to show Saudi Arabia that we are able to provide a safe and professional race operation. I think these demos give spectators a very good idea of the sport. The track is right in front of them, and they can see everything – including if we make a mistake that loses the heat!”

Ryfa is just as keen. “The track is very speedy, and as a race pilot, you always want to go for it. So for me, definitely, each ‘demo’ is a race,” states the Swede. “I’m super-happy to be here, and the people watching seem quite excited – it’s a big new thing.”

Another member of the Challenger Class, Patrick Strasser, is piloting high-G flights to give media representatives a feel for the cockpit experience. Also a skilled aerobatics instructor and air-ambulance pilot at home in Austria, he comments, “I’m very honoured to be participating here. The spectators can see how the sport works, how the pilots are reacting and what they can do with the planes – and they will probably see some penalties like pylon hits, so it’s very spectacular.”

Be among the first to see Red Bull Air Race pilots in action in Saudi Arabia as the demos continue at Al-Plaza Beach on Dammam’s northern waterfront through Saturday, 23 March 2019.

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