Blazing desert temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius, a new knock-out system, a worthy winner rewarded for his four flawless runs and an enthusiastic crowd of 250,000.

The 2007 season Red Bull Air Race World Series above Abu Dhabi harbour on 6 April was topped off by a heart-stopping final in which Hungary’s Peter Besenyei edged American Mike Mangold into second place by just 1.03sec. Britain’s Paul Bonhomme took third.

The scorching 38 degree desert heat made the race even more challenging for the 12 pilots who survived as far as Friday’s elimination rounds. Peter Besenyei, flying an Edge 540, won the final over the 15-gate course in 1h.26min.24sec. “I’m delighted. It was extremely difficult”, he said after the race.

American Mike Mangold, also flying an Edge 540, had been plagued all week by a stubborn neck injury, yet delivered one stellar performance after another through the elimination rounds to secure second place.

Britain’s Paul Bonhomme took third place by flying the fastest run of the day (1:25.62) in the consolation final against American Kirby Chambliss, the defending champion, who was visibly disappointed about landing in fourth place.