Motorsport legend gets lowdown in Chiba

Australia's legendary Grand Prix motorcycle racing five-time world champion Mick Doohan sees a bright future for the Red Bull Air Race because he said it's a fascinating sport with the potential to captivate motorsport fans, aviation enthusiasts like himself and anyone else with a hunger to see "something new and different" that stands out in a world already crowded with other sports.

Doohan, who has been following the world's fastest motorsport series for years, has spent several days in Chiba, Japan meeting with his compatriot Matt Hall and other Red Bull Air Race pilots to learn firsthand more about the challenges they face while flying 370 kph enduring forces of up to 10G through an obstacle course of 25m high Air Gates. He said he was really looking forward to witnessing the second race of the 2015 season.

"I think it's got all the right ingredients and I think it's positioned well," said Doohan, who won five consecutive 500cc world championships from 1994 to 1998. "Everything's getting a bit mundane out there but this is really different. It's a quick sport. It's an in-and-out in a day or so. It's not a long event. It's a little more extreme than other (motorsports). That catches the attention of a lot of people these days. Hopefully we'll get one down in Australia again."

Perth, Australia hosted four hugely popular Red Bull Air Races between 2006 and 2010.

Doohan said he thought it was important for the sport's growth to have some bigger interest in some bigger countries. "It has to have some buy-ins from a few nations, I think. It's in its infancy, though. I'm looking forward to seeing it grow." After talking with Hall and other pilots, Doohan said he was even more impressed with the performance of the pilots on the high-speed, low altitude race tracks.

"It's all about these guys competing against the boundaries of what they have," Doohan said. "It's a real sport. It's all about who can put together all the things needed to win the best. That's one of the things that needs to get out there with the general public – the parameters which with these guys work in. I think once that's known a bit more, people will have more interest in what's going on. It's not like these guys are just out there flying around. It's a great competition.

"I've got a passion for aviation so just seeing what these guys can perform with these aircraft is fantastic," he said. "I've been watching it on TV for years and it absolutely interests me. I think anybody who has any sort of inkling towards aviation loves the Red Bull Air Race and loves watching what these guys can do with an aircraft."

Related articles