Germany's Matthias Dolderer is the 2016 Red Bull Air Race World Championship champion after sweeping to the title with an emphatic and emotional victory at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway racing circuit in the USA.
On a day of high drama in the skies above the famous 'Brickyard', the star flier of 2016 delivered another scorching performance to take the race win from Nigel Lamb and Pete McLeod, claiming the Air Race world title for the very first time in the process after his nearest title rival, Matt Hall, suffered a devastating pylon hit in the Final 4 round.
It’s amazing, we worked really hard for it. There’s so many emotions and it’s hard to get it under control. Thank you to my whole team and to my familyMatthias Dolderer
Coming in to the race weekend in Indianapolis with a commanding lead in the title race over Hall, Dolderer had a chance of claiming the 2016 Red Bull Air Race title if various scenarios played out. He also knew he had to win if he wanted to wrap up the championship before the final round in Las Vegas however, and fired a warning shot across the bows of Hall in the Round of 14 by setting fastest time.
Hall comfortably flew into the Final 4 after his Round of 8 rival, Martin Šonka, recieved a three second penalty for hitting a pylon. There he was joined by Lamb and McLeod. This kept the pressure on Dolderer, especially when Japan's Yoshihide Muroya flew a brilliant time of 1m03.77 seconds, which was just 0.1 seconds slower than Dolderer had flown earlier in the day.
The German showed why he's been the star of the 2016 season however when he delivered the weekend's best flight to defeat Muroya, flying a sensational 1m02.8s to take the final spot in the final emphatically.
"I reckon I've got a second in me," commented Hall before the Final 4. The Australian would need that and more if he wanted to win and take his title fight to the championship final. His challenge was over a mere second or two into his run though, after he clipped a pylon at the very first gate.
The world title was now there for Dolderer to take, and he didn't disappoint. He topped Nigel Lamb's time of 1m04.326s by almost a second, with a 1m03.335, erupting in a show of raw emotion inside the cockpit the second victory was confirmed to him over the radio.
"It's amazing, we worked really hard for it," commented Dolderer as he fought back tears. "There's so many emotions and it's hard to get it under control. Thank you to my whole team and to my family."
Czepiela on top for the first time in Challenger Class
Also making history in Indianapolis was Polish pilot Luke Czepiela, who flew the perfect run to take the first Challenger Class win of his career.
French woman pilot Melanie Astles also claimed her first podium finish in the race, flying just 0.569s slower that Czepiela to claim second, while Great Britian's Ben Murphy couldn't match his time sheet-topping practice times and had to settle for third after a pylon hit at Gate 2 during his final run.
Red Bull Air Race World Championship Indianapolis results
1. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 1m03.335s
2. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 1m04.326
3. Pete McLeod (CAN) 1m05.398
4. Matt Hall (AUS) 1m06.623
Red Bull Air Race 2016 standings (After 7 of 8 rounds)
1. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 80.25
2. Matt Hall (AUS) 55.75
3. Hannes Arch (AUT) 41
4. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 37.75
5. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 35
6. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 31.5
7. Martin Šonka (CZE) 31
8. Pete McLeod (CAN) 30.5