Ascot Red Bull Air Race 2016
The Ascot Air Race marks the midway point of the Red Bull Air Race 2016 World Championship, and so far racing enthusiasts have been treated to exhilarating action and some very inventive flying. With four races left to make the race for this year's champion, the rivalry is bound to reach new heights in the upcoming months, and the competing pilots still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves.
The last four races have already proved that no other series represents the adrenaline-charged side of air racing better than the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. In case you missed any of the action, here's a quick recap of what went down at the first four race locations around the world.
The Championship kicked off with a flying start in March at the Challenger Cup in Abu Dhabi. Although the pilots conjured up some amazing aerial performances, upsets were the order of the day. After failing to avoid penalties, two of last year's top performers Matt Hall (Australia) and Hannes Arch (Austria) had to surrender the top honours to Nicolas Ivanoff (France), Matthias Dolderer (Germany) and Francois Le Vot (France).
The second race took place in April in Spielberg, Austria and delivered even more surprising results. Favourites, Hall and Arch, tested their mettle on an even more challenging track amid tough weather conditions. This time, they were defeated by Dolderer, even though Arch completed his race without any slip-ups.
June's race in Chiba, Japan delivered all the thrills with a dash of emotions when Yoshihide Muroya not only claimed his first victory but also became the first Asian pilot to win an Red Bull Air Race. While Dolderer finished eighth in Japan's race, he still managed to defend his first position with the most points in the series so far.
In July, Dolderer continued his winning streak in Budapest, Hungary, while Arch and Hall climbed higher in the ranks with second and third place respectively.
On 13 and 14 August, the sky above Ascot race course will be transformed into a battle zone when the Red Bull Air Race 2016 returns to this historic small town. Already home to one of the world's most prestigious horse races, Ascot receives thousands of spectators who come out to bask in the intensity of the sport.
Saturday 13th August is reserved for the qualifying rounds, during which the top players will battle it out for the best starting position in the next day's big race. As one would expect with this type of event, a festive atmosphere reigns throughout the programme. The Challenger's Cup is backed by a range of on-track activities and entertainment such as flying displays. The dress code is usually smart-casual even though no formal dress code is required for General Admission.
On Sunday, the Master Class Series will feature the most graceful aircraft showing us what speed, agility and precision mean as they navigate a low-aerial track of 25 metre high air-filled pylons. And, organisers have already set high expectations for the event; the race course will include a unique standing start that will have pilots kicking off from the runway instead of a start gate. But, beyond gate one lay several tricky obstacles that, if not approached carefully, might have disadvantageous outcomes.
Sound like a show not to be missed? The event's close proximity to London's Heathrow airport gives you easy access to Ascot, but you can side-step the discomforts of commercial airlines with ACS's private jet hire in the UK for a more convenient flight.