Matt Hall made his debut in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2009, becoming the first Australian to compete in the famed event.
That year saw a series of ‘firsts’ as Hall became the first rookie to ever claim a spot on the podium at an individual race (third, Porto) and in the season ending overall standings when he was again third.
In 2010 Hall continued to show he has the potential to be a future world champion by finishing second in front of a “home” crowd in Perth, fourth in Rio and third in Lausitz. Despite missing two races after his infamous splash into the Detroit River in Windsor, Hall still managed to finish seventh overall.
In late 2010 the Red Bull Air Race World Championships announced it would take at least one year off to reset the organisation’s structure.
The Matt Hall Racing team are eager to continue along the Air Race journey in the future.
Below is an insight into how the Red Bull Air Race World Championship worked.
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is an international series of races with the participation of at least ten pilots at each race.
The objective is to navigate an aerial race track featuring air-filled pylons in the fastest possible time incurring as few penalties as possible.
Pilots can win World Championship points at each race and the one with the most points after the last race of the season becomes the Red Bull Air Race World Champion.
In 2010, 15 pilots will take part in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. New pilots who wish to participate in the World Championship must first fulfil the minimum criteria set by the Red Bull Air Race Committee which include top achievements in international flying competitions organized by the FAI. They must also be active aerobatic air show display pilots. Eligible pilots then have the opportunity to prove their skills at the Red Bull Air Race Qualification Camp where they can achieve the ‘Red Bull Air Race Super Licence’. Once they have the Super Licence they then qualify to take part in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
The Red Bull Air Race consists of the following flying sessions: Training, Qualifying, Wild Card, Top 12, Super 8 and Final 4. In all sessions, only one pilot races in the track at any time.
Training: Takes place on the days preceding Qualifying Day. There are two training days each consisting of two training sessions. Pilots must take part in at least two mandatory training sessions. Time of final training session (training 4) determines the starting order for Qualifying.
Qualifying: Takes place on Qualifying Day, the day before Race Day. Includes two mandatory qualifying sessions. Best time counts. 1 World Championship point is awarded to the fastest pilot in Qualifying.
Wild Card: Takes place on Race Day. The five slowest from Qualifying compete for the two available places in the Top 12. Results in the Wild Card determine 13th to 15th place race positions.
Top 12: Takes place on Race Day. The fastest ten from Qualifying and the fastest two from the Wild Card compete for a place in the Super 8. Results in the Top 12 determine 9th to 12th place race positions.
Super 8:Eight fastest from Top 12 compete in the Super 8. The fastest four pilots advance to the Final 4. Results in the Super 8 determine 5th to 8th place race positions.
Final 4:Four fastest from the Super 8 compete in the Final 4 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th race positions.
Starting order for flying sessions
The starting order is the order in which the pilots will race in each flying session.
The starting order for Training is defined by the results of the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship standings. The highest ranking pilot from 2009 starts first. Starting order for new race pilots is determined by a draw.
The starting order for Qualifying is defined by the results of the fourth training session. The order is reversed so that the slowest pilot from the fourth training session starts first.
The starting order for all sessions on Race Day is determined by the results in Qualifying. The order is reversed so that the slowest pilot from Qualifying starts first.
The total length of the race track is approximately 5-6 kilometres (3-4 miles). It consists of a series of inflatable pylon pairs known as ‘Air Gates’. Pilots must fly the race track, through the Air Gates in a predefined order and way as follows:
Level (horizontal) flying through the start Air Gate (black and white chequered). This Air Gate is also used during the race and as the finish gate – for this use, level flying is not mandatory.
Level (horizontal) flying through Air Gates marked in blue.
Knife (vertical) flying through Air Gates marked in red.
Slalom flying through the Chicane (marked in red). The Chicane consists of two or more single pylons positioned in a line. Pilots can choose to fly narrow or wide through them (knife or level flying not mandatory).
The timing is activated when the race plane crosses the start line and is stopped when it passes the finish line. The system that measures the run times is unique and different to conventional systems. It measures three dimensionally and a thousand times per second in a defined area. The system consists of several laser devices placed at the start/finish and at the Air Gates where intermediate times are measured. The laser spans a two dimensional vector space between the Air Gates with an angle of 100° and a reach of 80 metres (262 ft) in longitudinal sides. Whenever a pilot crosses the invisible laser wall, the system detects a crossing and calculates the respective time. After finishing the track, the system computes the run-time based on all measuring results. The start/finish laser system is backed up with a second laser device.
The Air Gates
Each Air Gate is 20 metres (65 ft) high. The gap between the pylons in the Knife Air Gates is 10 metres (33 ft). The gap between the pylons in the Level Air Gates is 13 metres (42 ft). The gap between the pylons in the Chicane is 110 metres (360 ft). A plane’s wingspan is approximately 8 metres.
The Race Stewards make sure the pilots have made the correct Air Gate crossings and have executed the race track correctly. The Race Stewards are a panel of highly experienced stewards and are well known figures in the aviation world. The time penalties are assigned by the Head Steward.
Race disqualification is decided by the Race Director. There are a minimum of three stewards which include: Head Steward, Outside Steward and TV Steward.
In the event of bad weather e.g. very high winds (base wind must not exceed 24 knots or gusts above 30 knots), bad visibility or heavy rain, the race committee reserves the right to skip, delay or cancel flying sessions.
The winner is the pilot who is ranked number one in the final flying session.
Red Bull Air Race World Champion
The Red Bull Air Race World Champion is the pilot who achieves the highest aggregate score in the given Red Bull Air Race World Championship season. The winner is crowned Red Bull Air Race World Champion at the last stop in the World Championship.
World Championship points
World Championship points are awarded after each race and will decide the Red Bull Air Race World Champion at the end of the season. The point system is as follows:
Qualifying: 1st place gets 1 point
RANK (RACE) POINTS
1st place 12 points
2nd place 10 points
3rd place 9 points
4th place 8 points
5th place 7 points
6th place 6 points
7th place 5 points
8th place 4 points
9th place 3 points
10th place 2 points
11th place 1 point
12th place 0 points
13th place 0 points
14th place 0 points
15th place 0 points