Red Bull Air Race World 2016: Matthias Dolderer wins World Championship title
Matthias Dolderer won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Sunday 16 October 2016.
The German pilot finished top of the leaderboard after the eight-stop international tour, which finished in Las Vegas, USA over the weekend of 15/16 October.
Dolderer had in fact already done enough to win the overall championship when he arrived in Las Vegas. A strong performance in every race throughout the year saw him on every podium, and as a result he pulled far ahead of the other pilots.
At the end of the seventh race, held in Indianapolis, USA in early October, he had an unreachable lead of nearly 25 points. A race win earns a pilot 15 points, which meant no one could catch him.
“I couldn’t imagine the emotions I have here,” he said after the race. “It’s an amazing feeling that pressure is now off.”
He added: “I was confident in every race, because I knew I could be a rocket on the track. I’d say 90% of this game is mental, as we all have planes that can go at the same speed.”
Dolderer started his career in aviation when he was still a child, growing up on his parents’ airfield in Germany.
“When I was five-years-old my parents opened an airfield, so I was always around aviation,” he explained after winning the championship. “When I was 14 I did my first solo in a glider. When I was 17 I got my glider licence and ultralight licence.”
Dolderer went on to fly ultralights and microlights for four years as a member of the German national team, before transitioning into aerobatic flying. He is also an instructor and a commercial pilot.
He credits his success today with that strong foundation in air sports when he was younger.
“I think the basic foundation for all my flying was flying gliders – it gives you a really good feeling,” he said.
“From there on I always knew how to approach the airplane and what to do with it, how to explore the capability of the airplane. Aerobatics and competition flying help a lot.”
The race in Las Vegas was hit by strong wind that saw organisers struggle with conditions, but the racing did finally get underway at 4pm local time on the Sunday. However, with winds gusting to more than 50km/h it meant racing was interrupted and finally had to be abandoned as air gates were blown over in the high winds. It meant no change in the results since the previous race in Indianapolis.
The Red Bull Air Race is the highest-profile air-race competition in the world and features some of the best pilots in the world. Pilots must have a strong background in aerobatics before being able to fly in the Red Bull Air Race, and must first compete in the entry-level Challenger Class.
That in itself is no small feat: selection for the Challenger Class is fierce – this year it included a former leader of the UK’s Royal Air Force Red Arrows, and the only woman competing, four-time French aerobatic champion Melanie Astles.
This year the Challenger Class was won by Florian Berger from Germany. The 27-year-old pilot had two race wins this year. He said: “It’s an amazing feeling to win the Challenger Class, but of course I have mixed feelings because we didn’t fly today. But I had two wins this season, so it’s been an amazing season for me.”
The full season of the Red Bull Air Race includes eight stops at iconic locations around the world. Each race is broadcast live online and on television channels internationally.
The FAI helps the Red Bull Air Race in several ways, including the provision of medals specially designed for the race, official approval of the race Rules and Regulations, inclusion of all races in the FAI calendar, and a safety delegate who attends all Red Bull Air Race events.
The FAI congratulates all pilots on a safe, fair and challenging Red Bull Air Race World Championship 2016.
Photo Credit: FAI / Marcus King