Red Bull pilots’ strategy

The race in London this year is just as tricky as any of the other race courses and with the UK’s temperamental weather, the event promises to be an unpredictable one this weekend.



Frank Versteegh, former Red Bull pilot says that the track in London is challenging because of the wind and turbulence blowing the air gates around.

“The pilots suffer a high tailwind when they enter the track and it’s a very narrow approach. They have to perform a steep turn to be level on the entrance. It makes it extremely difficult to find the correct angle. They’ll incur penalty points if they don’t get it right.”





Barry Nuttley provides commentary on the ground for the World Series, and explains that each pilot has found his own little tweaks that reduce the drag of their aircraft.

“Just like any motor sport really, they might fit smaller wheels. Last year, Nicholas Ivanoff introduced a symmetrical wing on the aircraft which allowed him to turn so much more quickly, some of the pilots followed suit.”





Paul Bonhomme told Flight in the pit lane, after the first training session of the London leg of the race, that all of the courses have a difficult section which poses a challenge to the pilot.




His technician Wade Hammond has made modifications to the Edge 540 to make the aircraft go faster.

He explains that he has added wingtips that can change which is a good start for us and we’re using the same engine as last year.

“We’ve sealed up all the gaps and learned a lot about the importance of cooling the engine and as a result redesigned the cowling in the wind tow. The engine runs as cool as we can make it, with the smallest intakes which lessens our drag.

“Weight is quite an important factor. If it’s heavy we can’t accelerate. Paint is heavy but we need to have a scheme. It’s really a matter of whether the paint lines run parallel with the wind. 

“The aircraft has wing tanks and we can do about 600 miles on the fuel available. It can go quite a way if you’re not racing it.”

Hannes Arch (AUT) has a new canopy on his Edge 540 which is more aerodynamic, allowing him to slipstream quickly through the air. One mile an hour makes all the difference.



Arch says Abu Dhabi and London have challenging circuits, London especially because it can be windy.





Mike Goulian, (USA) an aerobatics pilot who has taken on the Red Bull Air Race as his full time occupation says that London is one of the most challenging circuits, even in his Edge 540.”





“You have to turn into the start gate which is very difficult and there are other hard turns above the water.”




Despite his team colours he concedes the air race is not the “greenest” sport “because it has engines, it’s a motor sport.”

Nigel Lamb, (GBR) in his carbon fibre built MXS says that the smoke system is environmentally friendly. It doesn’t use a lot a of fuel.

His aircraft is very different from last year with some aerodynamic modifications to it. Smoothing the colling airflow within the engine. Cooling the engine definitely helps you when it comes to start up the thing. It’s not a mature sport like Formula One but it is pretty tight racing.

Lamb’s aircraft is different from last year’s. He changed from the Edge to the MXS because it’s lighter.



When you watch the pilots in action, they make the sport look easy by performing graceful turns, but it’s not. The most challenging circuit of all is “unquestionably the one you’re in at the time. There’s always an area of the track that is a little bit difficult,” he says.

Mike Mangold (USA) notes that all the European tracks are all on a river setting “so they’re very straight and narrow.”



“There’s a not too many technical or long turns but the pilot has to use some skill to handle it. San Diego and Abu Dhabi had a few more wide turns. It’s all about the machine, who’s got the fastest aircraft, the most horsepower, the best technology.” 



Standings 2008

1. Bonhomme GBR (35 points),

2. Arch AUT (29 points),

3. Chambliss USA (27 points), 

4. Mangold USA (26 points), 

5. Besenyei HUN (17 points), 

6. Jones GBR (14 points),

7. Goulian USA (10points),

8. Lamb GBR (8 points), 

9. Maclean ESP (8 points),

10. Ivanoff FRA (5 points), 

11. Rakhmanin RUS (1 points), 

12. Dell RSA (0 points) 

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World Series 2008 Schedule

London 2/3 Aug,

Budapest 19/20 Aug,

Porto, 6/7 Sep,

Spain 27/28 Sep,

Perth 1/2 Nov,

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