On Saturday, the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race launched their second double-header of the season at a new location for the sport, Lake Balaton in Hungary. In the opening Challenger Cup race, Dario Costa made history as the first Italian pilot to earn victory in the sport, with Daniel Ryfa of Sweden taking second and Patrick Davidson of South Africa rounding out the podium in third. The Red Bull Air Race action at Lake Balaton concludes on Sunday.
The spiritual home of the Red Bull Air Race, Hungary is a prestigious
destination for every Red Bull Air Race pilot, but Costa, who joined the
Challenger Class in 2018, had never before raced in the country.
However, the racetrack at the brandnew Lake Balaton location in Zamárdi
was a fresh challenge for all the contenders, leveling the playing
field. Flying first in the day’s strong winds, Ryfa, a two-time winner
at Hungarian races in Budapest, finished at 1:04.743 after incurring two
penalties. Davidson, meanwhile, managed the only clean run in the
five-pilot field, delivering a somewhat conservative 1:06.046.Flying
last, Costa collected his nerves and, despite a one-second penalty for
Over-G, clocked a finishing time over a half-second to the good of Ryfa:
– Making his Challenger Class debut on Saturday was Vito Wyprächtiger, the first pilot ever to fly for Switzerland in the Red Bull Air Race. Wyprächtiger’s efforts in the sport are informed by his background as a former engineer, test pilot and crew chief in the sport; however three seconds of penalty put him in fifth place.
– Also racing on Saturday was 2018 Challenger Cup winner Luke Czepiela of Poland, who finished fourth. Mélanie Astles of France had been scheduled to fly, but during Challenger Class Free Practice earlier in the afternoon, she had to return to the Race Airport due to issues with the temperature gauge in the raceplane. Although the aircraft was subsequently fixed, the delay meant that she missed her slot. She received a “Did Not Start” (DNS) for that session and did not participate in Saturday’s Challenger Cup 1 race.
– Astles will still get an opportunity to compete in Hungary, however. As originally planned, she is still on the roster for Sunday’s Challenger Class 2 race at Lake Balaton, along with Costa, Ryfa, Wyprächtiger, Patrick Strasser (AUT) and Baptiste Vignes (FRA).
– Introduced in 2014 as the official feeder class of the Red Bull Air Race, the Challenger Cup was established to help the next generation of talented pilots build their skills in the high-speed, low-altitude sport. Additional pilots flying in the Challenger Class this year include: Kenny Chiang (HKG), Kevin Coleman (USA), Sammy Mason (USA) and two-time Challenger Cup winner Florian Bergér (GER). Each of the Challenger pilots was slated for three races across the 2019 season.
The racing continues on Sunday, 14 July, as the Challenger Class
double-header concludes with Challenger Cup 2 Lake Balaton, followed by
the Master Class race that will serve up the season’s penultimate chance
to claim World Championship points.
Dario Costa (ITA) “So much work went into this. I continue to tell myself that talent doesn’t exist, it’s all about work, and it is like that, really. I kept it a bit conservative but had an Over G anyway, so it was not that conservative. But I preferred to do a safer line, not for the time, but for the turbulance and the strong wind. This was the backup plan for the win, and I did what I wanted – only the Over G was not planned – so it’s good!”
Vito Wyprächtiger (SUI): “It was cool. Conditions had changed since Free Practice and were not easy. It was really windy and really, really bumpy, but it was a lot of fun. It would have been even cooler not to be last, but it wasn’t the plan to be on the podium today anyway, because then the flight suit would be all wet from champagne. We’re going to save that for tomorrow!”
For ticket information and all the latest news on the Red Bull Air Race, visit www.redbullairrace.com.
Results, Challenger Cup 1 Lake Balaton 2019: 1. Dario Costa (ITA) 1:04.135, 2. Daniel Ryfa (SWE) 1:04.743, 3. Patrick Davidson (RSA) 1:06.046, 4. Luke Czepiela (POL) 1:06.340, 5. Vito Wyprächtiger (SUI) 1:09.094
Red Bull Air Race 2019 Calendar
8-9 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
15-16 June: Kazan, Russia
13-14 July: Lake Balaton, Hungary
7-8 September: Chiba, Japan