PUTRAJAYA, May 17:
Last month, Hannes Arch had a narrow victory in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Croatia.
But today in Putrajaya, Hannes Arch of Austria set a new championship record in the Masters category.
Arch, who beat his arch rival, Paul Bonhomme of England, by just 0.08s in Rovinj, Croatia, set a new time of 1:15:144 to be in best position to claim his second title of the season.
Arch, who lost to Bonhomme in the first race at Abu Dhabi, said this was his best performance yet.
“I am happy and confident of winning tomorrow (the final).
“I will not be overconfident. Having too much pride is not good for racing and I hope to fly faster tomorrow.”
Arch said even though the weather was humid, it did not affect him much.
He said the track looked easy, but in actual fact it was very challenging.
“I want to stay positive and hope to win my second title of the season tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, in the Challenger category, Frenchman Le Vot put up an outstanding performance to claim his third consecutive title of the season.
He had won both the Round 1 and 2 races in Abu Dhabi and Rovinj respectively.
Le Vot said it was a very technical race today.
“The track was a bit tricky,” said Le Vot, who is also the world aerobatic champion.
“I am really happy to win today. It’s been a good season so far. I want to continue my momentum.”
Local pilot Datuk Halim Othman, who participated in the Challenger category, finished last.
Halim said he was nervous as he was racing on his home soil for the first time. Despite finishing last, he was happy with his performance.
“I lost, but with pride.”
The main race tomorrow will see a showdown of 2008 champion Arch against two-time defending champion Bonhome.
The nation’s administrative capital is the third stop in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship series, staged in seven countries on three continents.
This is the first time Malaysia is hosting the event. Last month’s leg was held in Rovinj, Croatia.
Twelve Master Class pilots from Austria, the United States, Great Britain, Hungary, Japan, the Czech Republic, Germany and Australia, will compete in the main event.