Britain’s Paul Bonhomme and Nigel Lamb won first and second place at the Red Bull Air Race at Ascot Racecourse on Sunday, sending a sell-out home crowd of 29,000 spectators into a frenzy with thrilling performances in challenging windy conditions. It was the 15th career victory for Bonhomme in his 55th race and also second win of the season worth 12 championship points that helped him cut the world championship lead of Hannes Arch from 13 to just two points. There are three races left in the eight-stop season. The Austrian finished a distant eighth on Sunday.
Bonhomme, who also wears race number 55, now has 41 world championship points to Arch’s 43. He won the Ascot race with its first-ever standing start with a flawless performance despite difficult and changing English winds that gusted up to 30 knots and caused many pilots problems. The spectators in the capacity crowd were on their feet watching the spine-tingling action from the grandstand and grassy terraces and they roared their approval when Bonhomme stopped the clock in the Final Four with a sensational time of 1:11.579. Lamb, celebrating his 58th birthday, was a close second and got his third straight podium with a sterling time of 1:11.750, which was good enough for 10 points that also put him into the thick of the championship battle with 35 points overall.
“I think this has to be the greatest escape yet – it’s a great win,” said Bonhomme, who had a dismal performance in Qualifying on Saturday and was nearly eliminated in the first round of 12 on Sunday when he was beaten by Germany’s Matthias Dolderer, who finished fourth overall on Sunday. “The British crowd love aviation and I couldn’t have wished for a better result.”
Results: 1. Paul Bonhomme (GBR), Nigel Lamb (GBR), 3. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 4. Mathias Dolderer (GER), 5. Matt Hall (AUS), 6. Yoshihide Muroya, (JAP), 7. Peter Besenyei (HUN), 8. Hannes Arch (AUT), 9. Martin Sonka (CZE), 10. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 11. Pete McLeod (CAN), 12. Michael Goulian (USA).
World Championship: 1. Arch 43, 2. Bonhomme 41, 3. Lamb 35, 4. Hall 25, 5. McLeod 18, 6. Ivanoff 15, 7. Muroya 10, 8. Dolderer 9, 9. Sonka 8, 10. Besenyei, 6, 11. Chambliss 5, 12. Goulian 0.