2010 Red Bull Air Race: Bonhomme Wins Season Opener

Despite hampered visibility and strong desert winds, pilots were able to give excellent performances at the 2010 Red bull Air Race, which was held in Abu Dhabi. The fiery duel between Paul Bonhomme and Hannes Arch goes up in smoke as Arch was disqualified in the Top 12 round.

Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain in action during the Red Bull Air Race.  Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images for Red Bull Air RacePaul Bonhomme is the victorious winner in the season opener of the 2010 Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi.

Defending champion, Paul Bonhomme, finished just ahead of compatriot Nigel Lamb, who came in second.  Hungary’s Peter Besenyei took third place in this dramatic battle across the skies.

Many were disappointed by Austria’s Hannes Arch, who finished in 11th place.  After posting the fastest Qualifying time on Friday, a lot was expected of him.  Arch, who had won the Abu Dhabi race last year, was disqualified in the Top 12 round for dangerous flying.

However, Hannes Arch was not the only one to get disqualified. Temperatures above 40 degrees combined with the strong desert winds turned the season opener into one of the most intense races in the six-year history of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

“It’s a great start to the new year,” said Paul Bonhomme, who took 12 points and picked up his 12th career victory. Bonhomme, like fellow Red Bull Air Race veterans Lamb and Besenyei, was a master of the difficult weather conditions and managed to stay calm despite some extraordinary challenges.

Bonhomme’s winning time was 1:14.06. Lamb was 0.86 seconds behind and Besenyei was 7.12 behind.

“It’s fascinating what we’ve seen today”, said Bonhomme. “The wind changed direction and it sorts everyone out. The temperature was also a factor. To keep your concentration up in these conditions is quite a task. I don’t think it’s a coincidence (that only veterans were on the podium).”

Fans watch Peter Besenyei of Hungary.  Photo: Vladimir Rys/Getty Images for Red Bull Air RaceNigel Lamb celebrates his place on the podium, but doesn't let his victory get to his head.

“Today was a day of race tactics and strategy,” said Lamb. “One would be deluded to think it’s going to be easy. There are at least 12 pilots this year who have been putting in times that are within a few seconds of each other. It’s going to be a very interesting season.”

Frustrated by his disqualification, Arch of Team Abu Dhabi is left wondering what he could have done wrong.

“I don't have a clue about what the stewards saw,” he said. “It was a normal racing situation.”

Hopefully, Arch will be able to show off his skills at the next stop of the 2010 Red Bull Air Race, which will take place in Perth, Australia on April 17/18.

Hannes Arch Winner.  Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
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