An aircraft wows the crowd during the season opener of the 2008 Red Bull Air Race World Series in Abu Dhabi on Friday. (All images by ITP)
Britain’s Paul Bonhomme took an emphatic victory at the Air Race, after losing the 2007 championship to American Mike Mangold.
Bonhomme dominated the field in all flying sessions right through to the final where he beat Austria’s Hannes Arch by seven seconds after beating Peter Besenyei from Hungary in the semi-final by six seconds.
Pilots navigated 13 air gates at speeds of up to 400 kph as they flew just metres above the water.
The pilots had to master the challenging conditions of gusting winds of up to 30 kph which up blew dust, and high temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius.
The Red Bull Air Race World Series features the world’s best pilots in a motor sports competition based on speed, precision and skill.
The Air Race took place on the Abu Dhabi Corniche in front of 400,000 spectators.
The Air Race was held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.
Using the fastest, most agile and lightweight racing planes, pilots navigate a low-level aerial race track made up of air-filled pylons, reaching speeds of 400 kph while withstanding forces of up to 10 Gs.
The Air Race moves to San Diego, US then Detroit before returning to Europe for races in Sweden, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Hungary, Spain and Portugal and the grand finale in Perth.