Baptiste Vignes is a World, European and French National champion in aerobatics as well as a professional flight instructor and coach. He joined the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Cup in 2017 as a way to combine his passions for motorsport racing and aerobatics. With four podiums to his credit already in the second competition category of the Red Bull Air Race, the talented Frenchman is aiming for race wins – and even the overall Challenger Cup podium – in 2019.
Born in Calais in 1985, Vignes first sat in a cockpit at age 14. He received his pilot's licence in 2002, securing his initial aerobatics qualification and launching into competition in 2004.
Vignes clinched a European Advanced Team Championship in 2009 as part of the French contingent; won dual Advanced World Championships in 2010 by taking the team title and defeating 82 other pilots to seize the individual crown; and took home another gold medal from the European Advanced Team Championship in 2011. He was a member of the French Unlimited team – the sport's highest level – from 2012 to 2017, with a best World Championship result in the category of eighth in 2015. In addition, he was awarded two more World Championships in 2016 and 2018 as the coach of the title-winning French Advanced team.
Outside the competitive arena, Vignes earned his commercial pilot's licence and also became a flight instructor in 2009. Further, the pilot is deeply involved in support and advocacy for the French association for families dealing with Kleefstra Syndrome.
Vignes' progress in his first year of Air Racing was steady and strong, and he capped off the 2017 season with his maiden podium: second place in Kazan, Russia. For 2018, he set his sights on earning enough points to qualify for the season finale, and his campaign was a success. Vignes took three podiums – including second place in front of cheering home fans when the Red Bull Air Race made its French debut in Cannes – and not only locked a berth in the finale but finished the season a career-best fourth overall.
"For 2019 I will continue to fly safe, clean and smooth. I want to improve my 2018 final ranking, and my ultimate goal will be to claim my first win," Vignes confides. "I will be ready to fight, faster and stronger."