Britain’s Paul Bonhomme won the 2014 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season opener in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, completing the high-speed, low-altitude final race in 56.439 seconds – a blink of an eye faster than the timing of his perennial rival, Austria’s Hannes Arch, who finished in 57.776.
The 2014 season’s opener was a fittingly thrill-filled start to the return of the world’s fastest motorsport series to the UAE after a three year hiatus. The agreement gives credence to organisers move to sign the event for a further three years.
“Red Bull had to take a three year break to restructure the race in terms of format and safety. This project attracts a lot of people from all around the world, not only to the venue, but also the hotels that surround it,” said Al Shehhi, founder and director of organisers Blink Experience.
Blink experience represents the Red Dull Air Race with the government here. They work with the Red Bull Air Race global management as the organisers and promoters of the event.
“We just signed a three year agreement with Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority for hosting the event with renewal every year. We are bringing the event to the people and to the heart of Abu Dhabi. You can park anywhere, no restriction, no badges, just pure entertainment and adrenaline,” he states.
This year, Blink Experience went to great measures to create what seemed like a temporary, yet fully equipped airport, on the beach. From runways, security, administration, hangers, race towers and even VIP and corporate lounges.
The venue was also equipped with military and airforce involvement, medical presence, and a new grandstand for spectators and concert goers.
“This is a huge production. Our hundred technicians assembled helicopter hangers for footage to take place and even airplanes arrived to us in small pieces and we had to assemble and dismantle them too.”
With four key locations for practice, training and the final racetrack, Al Shehhi equates the Red Bull Air race to a travelling circus, moving from one place to the next.
Abu Dhabi is the first location to host the event, with similar rounds planned in Dallas, Las Vegas, London, Croatia, Poland and China.
“The premiere happens here, and this is how we pay back to the market. The whole production requires all arms of Abu Dhabi to be involved, but in return, we had over 4500 room nights booked in hotels for International media, business and tourism. The impact on the city was huge,” says Al Shehhi.