- Rookie, Pete McLeod, flies high with best performance of the season -
WINDSOR, ON, June 13 /CNW/ - Today, in front of a crowd of 75,000
screaming fans, Pete McLeod, the youngest and first-ever Canadian to complete
in the Red Bull Air Race Championship, experienced his best flight of the
season securing himself a 10th place finish automatically qualifying for the
Top 12. This year is the first time a Canadian city is solely hosting the Red
Bull Air Race World Championship, as Windsor, Ontario marks the third stop in
the six-city series in 2009. Last year, Red Bull Air Race straddled two
countries with Windsor and Detroit simultaneously playing host.
McLeod has his sights set on the first championship points of his young
career as he battles it out with the remaining 11 air devils in tomorrow's
finals. He will scoop up one point for 11th place and two if he can repeat his
10th place performance. "I'm really happy," said McLeod, 25. "We achieved a
really good result and we'll keep going forward. The mods have helped a lot."
American Kirby Chambliss took home one world championship point with a
thrilling victory while Britain's Paul Bonhomme took second place, Nicolas
Ivanoff of France finished third. Defending champion Hannes Arch of Austria
shrugged off a disappointing fifth after getting hit with a two-second penalty
- his worst flight of the season.
After Bonhomme established himself as the pilot to beat by putting down
the fastest time in the first Qualifying session and then widening that lead
further in Qualifying 2, Chambliss opened the throttle on his powerful new
engine in a no-holds-barred run that was nearly two seconds faster than Q1.
Chambliss set a course record time of 1:07.95 in the process - a full 1.26
seconds faster than Bonhomme. Despite languishing in 10th place with just
three championship points coming into Windsor, "Comeback Kid" Chambliss had
surprised the frontrunners in training on Friday with consistently fast times.
And even though the 2006 world champion who won the race here last year had to
make adjustments to tune down his new engine overnight, Chambliss put down a
blazing time on a cloudy and cool afternoon in Windsor.
"I just went out and tried to run as fast as I could," said Chambliss,
who now has four championship points and could add 12 more with a victory on
Sunday. "I cut every corner I could. I was right there on the edge. I think I
went about as fast as I could go. We're looking good. I'm excited about the
engine. We've got an extra 40 to 50 horsepower now. We've been definitely
lacking in the engine department."
Chambliss had spent the 30 minutes between Q1 and Q2 talking with NASCAR
driver Brian Vickers in his hangar. After crossing the finish line he flashed
a wide smile before hearing his time announced by the race director.
For Bonhomme, who was just beaten by Chambliss here on this same track in
the final in 2008, it was a bittersweet afternoon. Eager to move up from third
behind Arch and Ivanoff, Bonhomme appeared to be on course for his first
Qualifying victory of the year but once again had to settle for second. "We'll
see if I can pick up some time somewhere. My run was alright, although the
start was maybe a little too aggressive. I'll take a look at the video tonight
and see where I can improve."
Arch pointed out that his speed was good; without the penalty he would
have finished second: "I'm not happy with fifth place but the good thing is
that neither Paul nor Nicolas got the point but it instead went to Kirby, who
is so far behind (in the championship). I'm confident that I can go faster."
For further information please register at the Red Bull Air Race Newsroom
which can be accessed via the 'Press' link on www.redbullairrace.com or
directly at www.redbullairracenewsroom.com. The Red Bull Air Race Newsroom is
a free-of-charge media service providing print news, photography, radio, TV
and web clips.
For further information:
For further information: Alana Lipton/Melissa Legaspi, Edelman, (416)
716-1552/(416) 786-8527, Alana.Lipton@Edelman.com/Melissa.Legaspi@Edelman.com;
Sonia Klinger/Josée Laperrière, Red Bull Canada, (647) 283-7211/(647)