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Abu Dhabi opens skies for Air Race

/ 13 March 2010

If you’ve ever been nervous flying, one glance at the death-defying pilots participating in this year’s Red Bull Air Race might be your remedy

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2010 opens in Abu Dhabi on March 26 and 27, returning to the United Arab Emirates capital for the sixth consecutive year. The world’s top 15 pilots will start their six-month long battle for championship points in the first of eight races on a total of five continents.

Defending champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain and Austria’s Hannes Arch, the 2008 champion, will resume their thrilling duel over the sparkling turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf on Abu Dhabi’s famous Corniche. Arch, who won the 2009 race in Abu Dhabi but finished second overall to Bonhomme, has worked hard on improving his aircraft during the off-season and will be looking to get back in front of his British rival.

“Abu Dhabi is one of the most challenging races on the calendar because you don’t know what the other guys have been doing over the winter,” Arch said. “Your team doesn’t have a race rhythm yet and no one’s quite sure how strong their planes are relative to the others. I’m looking forward to the race. I’m the hunter now rather than being hunted.”

Abu Dhabi has been a popular fixture on the Red Bull Air Race calendar ever since the World Championship officially began in 2005. The warm temperatures and famous winds which can change direction abruptly during the course of the day make it one of the most challenging tracks and a favourite for the veterans.

“We’re delighted to be back in Abu Dhabi to kick off the 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship,” said Bernd Loidl, CEO of Red Bull Air Race. “We’re looking forward to another exciting race and being back in the same spot as last year where spectators can enjoy perfect front row viewing from the public beach at the Abu Dhabi Corniche.”

Loidl said spectators will also have the chance to meet the pilots and see their planes at the race airport located at Municipality Harbour during the Public Pit Lane Walk on Qualifying Day. “We hope fans will take advantage of the chance to meet the pilots and see their incredible planes up close,” Loidl added.

The picturesque blue skies and dramatic Abu Dhabi shoreline with its towering skyscrapers will provide a spectacular backdrop for the first round of the international championship, which will be one of the Middle East’s most breathtaking sports events of the year. Qualifying takes place on Friday, March 26 followed by Race Day on Saturday, March 27. 

Race organisers decided to add something special to this year’s event by designing a supersized banner made up of personal portraits of all the race fans that submitted their photos last week. The banner will be flying over the capital following one of the many aircrafts taking to the skies that day. The project is just one part of the many activities accompanying the opening round and will allow spectators in Abu Dhabi to watch the pictures displayed on the aircraft during its stop at the temporary airport in Mina Zayed.

With only weeks to go before the first stop of the championship, pilots are seeking optimum training conditions in order to be fighting fit for the Abu Dhabi race at the end of March. It seems the Arizona desert in the US is the ideal location for putting any recent modifications to the test as well as providing favourable weather for flying.

The race will once again be a thrilling competition arena for 15 of the world’s best pilots, flying at speeds exceeding 370 km/h through 20-metre air gates. Every year, the race attracts tens of thousands of visitors and spectators from around the world.


What: Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2010

When: March 26 and 27

Where: Abu Dhabi Corniche

Entry: Free

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