Chambliss Charges to the Podium in Spielburg

  • Sep 6, 2015 1:24pm GMT

Ever since his third-place finish in New York City in 2010, American Kirby Chambliss has been looking for a return to the Red Bull Air Race podium – and in Spielberg, Austria on September 6, he got it. On a track that was turbulent both literally and figuratively, the USA’s Michael Goulian finished a solid seventh. Goulian reported trouble with the Red Bull Speed Read Out which kept his speed far lower than normal.

SPIELBERG, Austria – Beginning with a first-round draw against Hannes Arch, the 2008 World Champion from Austria who came into Spielberg as one of the favorites, Team Chambliss pulled off one upset after another at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday.

After Chambliss had flown a clean, sub-59-second time on a track riddled with crosswinds topping 17 knots, Arch shocked his home crowd by hitting one of the Start Gate pylons and subsequently exiting the track to ensure a safe flight, ending his race. In the Round of 8, Chambliss, the title winner in 2004 and 2006, used every skill in his extensive arsenal to squeak past opponent Pete McLeod of Canada for his first Final 4 appearance of the season. Chambliss' third place finish was right behind the two men who have been battling for the top of the World Championship leaderboard all year, Matt Hall of Australia and Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain.

“It’s been a long time – I was starting to forget what that podium champagne smells like,” said Texas native, mentioning that the next stop just happens to be in his home state. “There’s always pressure at home, but this is not my first rodeo and I’m pretty used to dealing with that. I’d love to win in Fort Worth, but then I love to win everywhere.”

Team Goulian had a first-round surprise similar to that of Chambliss, when their opponent, reigning World Champion Nigel Lamb of Great Britain, exceeded the maximum allowed 200 knots/370 kmh through the Start Gate, penalizing the Brit with an automatic result of “Did Not Finish.” Goulian, who hails from Massachusetts, then went on to the Round of 8, where technical malfunctions with his instruments gave Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic the edge in that knockout round.

Australia's Hall won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship race in the Austrian Alps with an emphatic victory, beating the UK's Bonhomme into second place. The heart-stopping win in front of 20,000 spectators gives the Aussie 50 world championship points and narrowed Bonhomme's lead in the world's fastest motorsport series to just five points.

The 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship moves on to its final two stops in the United States, in Fort Worth, Texas on Sept. 26-27 and Las Vegas on Oct. 17-18.

In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world's top pilots endure forces of up to 10G as they navigate as precisely as possible through a low-level slalom track marked by 25-metre high air-filled pylons.