Paul Bonhomme Takes Second In Close-Fought Title Race
It wasn't pretty... but American
Mike Mangold (Team Cobra) snatched the 2007 Red Bull Air Race World
Series championship from Britain's Paul Bonhomme (Team Matador)
Saturday, after the closest fought title race in the competition's
Mangold, the 2005 champion, came third in Perth -- putting him
on 47 points for the season, equalling Bonhomme's points total. The
Brit finished a disappointing fifth in the last race of the season
-- his worst result this year and the first time the usually
consistent Bonhomme has failed to get on the podium in 2007.
52-year-old Californian Mangold took the title thanks to better
results in elimination rounds after both pilots had exactly the
same number of podium places this season. Hungary's Peter Besenyei
(Team Red Bull) took third place in the 2007 standings.
The dramatic end of season showdown was witnessed by more than
200,000 excited fans who lined the banks of the Swan River to watch
Nicolas Ivanoff (France/M.R.T.) take advantage of Bonhomme and
Mangold's apparent nerves to take his first victory of the season.
In a race which didn't go to form at all, America's Mike Goulian
took second place on the podium.
There was consolation for the Brits who took first place in the
overall team competition. Team Matador, made up of Bonhomme and
fellow Brit Steve Jones, took the team championship with 64
"I'm incredibly happy," said Mangold. "The title landed in my
lap at the last minute. I really wasn't expecting it. It was a long
and extremely difficult year. We had some problems during the
course of the season, but the team didn't stick its head in the
sand. We worked hard on becoming successful again."
Bonhomme, who received thunderous applause from the crowd, was
magnanimous in defeat. "It was a constant battle with Mike all
season and at the end of the day he was the luckier pilot. It could
hardly be any closer than that. It's incredible. But it's now time
to do some serious celebration."
The aerial battle through air pylons set up on a slalom course
just metres above the surface of the Swan River in the Western
Australia city saw the pilots hit speeds of up to 400 km/hour (250
mph) and forces of up to 10G.