Mike Mangold Favored In Meet Before Home Crowd
American Mike Mangold goes into the final leg of the 2005 Air
Race World Series in San Francisco Saturday the firm favorite to
secure the inaugural ranking crown in front of his home fans.
Mangold, with four victories from six events so far this season,
leads by two points ahead of Hungarian arch-rival Peter Besenyei,
who has two wins this year.
It's been a see-saw battle all year for Mangold and Besenyei.
None of the remaining eight competitors in Saturday's season-ending
event are no longer in contention for the ranking crown.
With a backdrop including the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge
and Alcatraz Island, the inaugural Air Race World Series looks set
for a nail-biting finale.
"Obviously I want to do well in front of my own fans, and
another victory would be a great way to finish the season," said
Mangold, winner of the races in Rotterdam, Austria, UK and
Budapest. But I don't need to win to secure the World Ranking
title. I just have to finish ahead of Peter (Besenyei), or no more
than two ranking points behind. I'll be looking for another clean
run with no time penalties."
Besenyei has opted to fly a two-seater Edge 540TK this weekend
as opposed to his usual Extra 300S and feels there is little to
choose between the two aircraft.
However, his plane is not as fast as the single-seater Edge 540
of Mangold, and the two-time World Aerobatics champion may have to
rely on the American picking up penalty seconds.
Four pilots are still in contention for third place on the final
ranking, with American Kirby Chambliss favorite after finishing
second to Mangold in the past two races in the UK and Budapest.
Chambliss, who also flies an Edge 540, will be going all out for
a win. He is currently third on the ranking, a point ahead of
England's Paul Bonhomme and German Klaus Schrodt in joint fourth
"It would be great to finish third on the ranking, but to be
honest I am not a 'third-place' kind of guy," explained Chambliss,
who last week won the US Aerobatic Championship for a record fifth
time. "I like to think I'm more a 'first-place' kind of guy and as
a result I will be going flat out for a win. If I was racing for
first place on the ranking I might be a little more tactical, but I
feel I've got nothing to lose by going for a victory."
Briton Steve Jones, sixth on the ranking, still has a
mathematical chance of moving into third but will need a series of
unlikely finishes to go his way.
The San Francisco Air Race is part of Fleet Week, one of the
largest air and marine shows in the USA, which is making its 25th
appearance this year.
Organizers of the event expect more than a million people along
the San Francisco waterfront this weekend.