Athlete: Kirby Chambliss 02 Red Bull Photofiles

“This season will be the most exciting yet,” said Bernd Loidl, CEO of Red Bull Air Race. “We're also delighted to have our first Canadian race in the province of Ontario and to welcome four new pilots on board.”

Flying at speeds reaching 230 mph and pulling up to 12 gs, the pilots will navigate unique and demanding race tracks, negotiating their way through 65-foot-high inflatable air gates in their bid to become the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Champion. Austrian Hannes Arch, who became the first European to win the championship last year, will be seeking to defend his title against a talented crop of pilots who have all been busy honing their skills in the off-season and working on modifications to their planes.

They will all be up against four new pilots from four continents who join the elite field this year. At age 25, Canada’s Pete McLeod will be the youngest ever pilot in the high-speed, precision flying race and he will be joined by three other rookies - Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya, Australia’s Matt Hall and Germany’s Matthias Dolderer.

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship will revamp its race format in the 2009 season as part of its quest to perfect scoring and also to accommodate the largest expansion ever in the field to 15 pilots from 12 in 2008. The new format features a Qualifying Day with all pilots racing to be one of the ten fastest to take them directly through to the Top 12 session on Race Day.

For the first time ever, Qualifying will also be a race for one championship point which will be awarded to the pilot with the best time in Qualifying. A Wild Card session will open Race Day with the five slowest from Qualifying getting a second chance by battling it out for the final two spots in the Top 12. Another important change is with the scoring. The penalty time assessed for incorrect flying through an air gate has been cut to 2 seconds from 3 seconds previously. The penalty for touching an air gate has been lowered to 6 seconds from 10. The changes reflect the increasingly competitive field, where gaps between first and last place have narrowed considerably in the last five years.

With a speed-maximizing race format, ambitious new talent to shake up the hierarchy and the top veteran pilots from 2008 returning to battle it out for dominance, 2009 promises to be another year of thrills, upsets and nail-biting tension.

Date Location
4/17-18 Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
5/9-10 San Diego, USA
6/13-14 Windsor, Ontario (Canada)
8/19-20 Budapest, Hungary
9/12-13 Porto, Portugal
10/3-4 Barcelona, Spain

Want to take one of the Edge-540's for a spin? Experience a 9G slalom through one of the Red Bull Air Race tracks here!


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