Nigel Lamb snatched a maiden Red Bull Air Race World Championship title in a dramatic series finale at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. A second place finish behind France's Nicolas Ivanoff handed the British pilot the coveted title as it all went wrong for rival Hannes Arch in the deciding Final Four round after previously dominating proceedings at his home round.
Ivanoff's second victory of the season in front of a sell-out crowd of 35,000 spectators at the F1 circuit was a well desevered one but all eyes were on the title race between Brits Lamb and Paul Bonhomme and local favourite Arch, who arrived in Spielberg seperated by just six points.
Outgoing 2013 champion Bonhomme cracked first, failing to make the cut for the Final Four round. This left Arch and Lamb to go head-to-head for title glory. After dominating qualifying and topping the Super 8 round by over half a second, Arch was the overwhelming favourite to set the winning time, which meant Lamb would need to finish third or better to beat his rival to the world championship.
When it mattered most however, Arch's form deserted him. After Ivanoff set a leading time of 57.458s from a steady Lamb (58.052) and Czech ace Martin Sonka (59.704), Arch was last to fly but delivered his worst performance of the whole weekend, collecting a two-second time penalty for uneven flying at gate seven that dropped him to fourth and handed the title to Lamb by 62 points to 53.
Arch's disappointing performance also allowed Sonka to climb on the Red Bull Air Race podium for the very first time too.
The title victory capped an incredible season of consistency and cool-headed flying by Lamb, who burst into the title race with a victory in the third race of the season in Malaysia, which he followed up with five straight second place finishes to overtake Arch and Bonhomme in the standings.
It's a great day. It's an indescribable feeling.
"It's just amazing," said an emotional Lamb after wrapping up the title. "I feel very lucky because I didn't think that my time was even good enough to get on the podium. It's an amazing feeling. It's a great day. It's an indescribable feeling."
A devastated Arch, who has now finished second overall for three consecutive seasons, understandably had few words. "I wanted to be first and I tried to do everything to get that. On the last run I might have tried a little too hard," he said.
Red Bull Air Race Spielberg Final Four Results
1. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 0:57.468 seconds
2. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 0:58.052
3. Martin Sonka (CZE) 0:59.704
4. Hannes Arch (AUT) 0:59.839
Red Bull Air Race 2014 Final Standings
1. Nigel Lamb (GBR) 62 points
2. Hannes Arch (AUT) 53
3. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) 51
4. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 42
5. Pete McLeod (CAN) 38
6. Matt Hall (AUS) 33
7. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 21
8. Martin Sonka (CZE) 18
9. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 10
10. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 7
Check back for the full highlights video coming very soon, and in the meantime get more Red Bull Air Race news and info at www.redbullairrace.com.