Lleida 2015

Written by Super User. Posted in Race reports

Air Race 1 World Cup Results Confirmed for the Second Round

Thom Richard of Sweden stormed across the finish line just ahead of last year’s winner, Christian Guilie, in a dramatic finale to an epic battle in the second round of the Air Race 1 World Cup in Lleida, Spain on 28th June 2015.

The conditions were grueling in the 40▫C (104▫F) heat. 16 teams were registered for the race and only 13 made the starting grid with just 11 finishing their final races due to a variety of issues. Those that were fit to race under the conditions ensured a competitive and thrilling series of contests with many rivalries forming.

Richard (#1, SWE), who won the first round of the Air Race 1 World Cup in Tunisia, was in top form in the run up all week. The tension was high because this was the first time that Richard and his new mount Hot Stuff would be faced off against the winner of last year’s event, Guilie (#6, FRA), in his self-designed and self-built Arletty II.  Both aircraft are highly sophisticated with advanced unique designs and it was down to the pilots having to fly a perfect race. In the end Thom, who started at pole position, managed to cling to his lead at an average lap speed of 408KPH (253MPH).

Perhaps the most exciting battle of the final race was between Jay Jones (#45, USA) and Steve Temple (#87, USA), who are known for a long-running rivalry and had been strategizing all week to make sure the other did not steal their rightful place on the podium.  At the beginning of the race, Jones, who started in the fourth grid position, made an impressive leap ahead of the entire pack just moments after the green flag signaled the takeoff race start.  Although Richard and Guilie managed to eventually overtake Jones, Temple was kept at bay for seven and a half laps of the eight lap race.  Only in the final few hundred meters did Jay appear to make a slightly wide and high turn losing critical energy and giving Temple, who was hugging the race circuit floor, the opportunity to complete the pass just at the checkered flag to claim third place by seven one hundredths of a second.

Guy Chereau (#31, FRA) won first place in the Silver Class, improving his second place position from last year in Lleida, emboldened by his increasing fan base in Catalunya. Chereau swapped podium places with Scottish favorite Des Hart (#11, SCO), who had won last year’s Silver Class in Lleida. Third place went to Stanislas Damiron (#53, FRA) racing in the beloved plane “Kermit” for the first time.

The racing in Lleida witnessed by the many spectators that braved the heat wave and by the large media audience was some of the best in recent memory with many competitive matchups throughout each of the heat races, semi-finals and finals.  The race in Lleida is historic because it solidifies the Air Race 1 as a series of races adhering to the format of air racing known traditionally by air race fans as the formula one class and sanctioned by the relevant international air racing governing bodies.

Thom Richard, pilot for team Hot Stuff, said: “It was a difficult weekend of racing with pressure from all sides. The big threat was Guilie who stayed on my tail in the semi-final Gold Class race and who could have possibly taken the pole. I flew a tight line in the final race and forced Guilie to struggle with the wider race line and my wake turbulence. It is a proud win for our team here today. We are in a confident position – but not a comfortable position – heading into the third race event of the series in Reno Nevada in September. The points system ensures that almost anyone can snatch it from you if you don’t stay on top of your game. It’s a no-error sport. For team Hot Stuff, what keeps us focused is our enthusiastic international fans and the great support of the people of Lleida who embrace the Air Race 1 World Cup.  We look forward to returning to this lovely Catalan region.”

Hot Stuff Crew Carlos Perez said: “The heat provided some challenges for us, and all the teams, but we were well-prepared after all the ground work that led us to victory in Tunisia, so we knew exactly how to configure and ready Hot Stuff for Lleida.  Any uncertainty came only from outside our pit in the form of some menacing challengers.  But our crew came together well and then handed the reigns to Thom who did a great job!”

Jeff Zaltman, CEO of Air Race 1, said: “It was such a spectacular competition today! With every event we set higher benchmarks in air racing, thanks to the commitment and tireless preparations of the pilots and crews in the Air Race 1 World Cup. Our congratulations goes out to winners Thom Richard in the Gold Class and Guy Chereau in the Silver Class – and equally to all the pilots who participated. We are pleased to see all their efforts pay off. A special thanks goes out to our Host Partners in beautiful Lleida, Catalunya and the outstanding Lleida-Alguaire Airport. We are also very grateful for the support of our sponsors like Coca-Cola, Revue Thommen Swiss Watches, Bigatmo, Nicholson McLaren, Sixt and all who contributed their services to making this memorable event come to fruition.”

For full results and series standings visit www.airrace1.com.