Red Bull Air Race World Championship

15 Oct 2017

Red Bull Air Race 2017: Martin Sonka on staying cool

Martin Sonka is at the top of the leaderboard as the Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2017 enters its final day. He is four points ahead of second placed Yoshihide Muroya (JPN). 

Behind Yoshi, Pete McLeod (CAN) and Kirby Chambliss (USA) are in third and fourth. Given a good race today, all four pilots are capable of taking the Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2017 title. 

However, after perfect weather during Qualifying yesterday this morning dawned grey, overcast and wet in Indianapolis. That puts the pressure on everyone – everybody wants to fly, no one wants the last day of the World Championship to be cancelled because of bad weather. 

A few hours before the race was scheduled to start, Martin Sonka explained how he was coping with the pressure of being out in front. 

“All around there is a little bit of pressure,” he admitted. “It’s a very special situation, to fight for the World Championship title. But yes, I’m definitely feeling ready, prepared, calm for the time being.”

He added: “Hopefully it will stay like this and we will have a good race.”

Leading a competition in any sport brings with it pressure, but especially so when there has been so much effort put in over a full year of racing. How does he maintain his calm and stay cool and collected?

“It’s not easy. We have different techniques but simply the key for me is to not think about the championship at all, and just stay focused on the race, like it is any other. 

“I think about the airplane, the track, the trajectory, and the conditions in front of me. That’s the key.”

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2017 finishes today, whatever the weather. Follow the action at

Photo: Martin Sonka during Qualifying at the Red Bull Air Race in Indianapolis, 14 October 2017 © Daniel Grund/Red Bull Content Pool