Red Bull Air Race Tour Makes US Stop
Hungary's Peter Besenyei edged past Britain's Paul Bonhomme
Saturday in a Red Bull Air Race showdown at Monument Valley in the
United States, flying through an obstacle course just 30 feet above
the rugged terrain of the iconic Western setting that made John
Besenyei, who picked up his second victory of the season, had a
winning time of 59.87 seconds -- beating Bonhomme by 0.97 seconds.
But Team Matador's Bonhomme managed to hold onto first place in the
overall championship with 15 points, just one point ahead of Team
Red Bull's Besenyei, after the third of the 11 Red Bull Air Race
World Series races this year.
"I knew I would have to put in a major effort if I wanted to win
and I did," said a beaming Besenyei, who also won the season opener
at Abu Dhabi on 6 April but finished fifth on 21 April at Rio de
"I'm very happy. I was
lucky today. I didn't make any big mistakes. If you make a mistake,
you're out of the game."
Bonhomme, who remained calm enough to take a half-hour nap just
before the race, also pronounced himself pleased -- it was his
third straight podium finish after taking first at Rio and third at
Abu Dhabi. "I'm pleased with the season. But it's going to be hard
to stay on top."
In the rarified desert altitude 5,200 feet above sea level,
Besenyei and Bonhomme put in the most consistent performances in
the difficult conditions of the thin air all through the knock-out
rounds on Saturday and they each had to get past a former American
champion in the semi-finals -- Besenyei beat 2006 title holder
Kirby Chambliss and Bonhomme got past 2005 winner Mike Mangold.
Bonhomme's Team Matador teammate Steve Jones escaped injury in
the quarter-finals after crashing heavily into an Air Gate just a
few feet above the ground, an incident that left his plane slightly
damaged and forced him to retire.
Besenyei completed his flawless run at speeds up to 250 mph and
forces of up to 10G through the spectacular eight Air Gate course
straddling the Utah-Arizona border at the Navajo Tribal Park. In
the consolation race for third place, Mangold beat Chambliss. The
next stop is in Istanbul, Turkey on 1 and 2 June.
Last year there were more than six million spectators at eight
races. Monument Valley has served as a backdrop for scores of films
and commercials over the last half century, as well as in films
ranging from John Wayne's 1938 classic "Stagecoach" and Stanley
Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" to Steven Spielberg's "Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Thelma and Louise".