October 9, 2013 - The Red Bull Air Races will be back in 2014 with a seven-race circuit, the energy drink company announced Tuesday. The first scheduled race will be in Abu Dhabi, UAE, February 28-March 1. Red Bull first sponsored its first races in 2003 and ran the annual Red Bull Air Race World Championships through 2010. The circuit then took a three-year break to "improve safety and reorganize," according to Red Bull.
"The Red Bull Air Race is one of the most exciting sports the world has ever seen," said Erich Wolf, CEO Red Bull Air Race GmbH, at a news conference at in Malaysia on Tuesday morning. "We've all worked very hard over the last three years fine-tuning some of the safety aspects and bringing the sport to a new level. We never took our eye off the target and neither have these fantastic pilots or the great fans around the world.
"We can't wait to get back up in the air in February 2014."
The 2014 events will take place in six countries on three continents, including two in the U.S. - Dallas/Fort Worth at Texas Motor Speedway on September 6-7 and Las Vegas at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 11-12. Other dates include Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya, Malaysia, May 17-18; Gdynia, Poland, July 26-27; Ascot, Great Britain, August 16-17; and the finale in Kunshan, China, November 1-2.
Three former series champions are among the 12 pilots slated to vie for the 2014 championship, including two-time defending champion Paul Bonhomme, Great Britain, who won the last two titles in 2009 and 2010. Also returning are Hannes Arch of Austria, 2008 champion, and America's Kirby Chambliss, who won the title in 2004 and 2006.
"I'm excited that there will be two races in the U.S., and I'm a native Texan - from Corpus Christi - so it's going to be cool racing in my home state," Chambliss said. "We'll be racing in the motor speedways in the two stops in the United States - Texas and Las Vegas. We did that previously in Germany, and it's a really cool perspective from a spectator standpoint, because you're actually looking down on the airplanes as they race through the gates."
Other pilots include Nigel Lamb, Great Britain; Matt Hal, Austria; Peter Besenyei Hungary; Nicolas Ivanoff, France; Michael Goulian, USA; Matthias Doldere, Germany; Yoshi Muroy, Japan; Pete McLeod, Canada; and Martin Sonka, Czech Republic.
Red Bull Air Races feature high-performance airplanes flying between 50 and 80 feet above the ground at speeds of up to 230 mph, navigating through inflatable pylons (air gates). The complete series will be broadcast Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
Safety improvements incorporated include standard engines and propellers for all pilots, changes to the lightweight nylon pylon material (making it easier for them to burst apart if they are clipped by plane wings); and raising the height of the pylons that the pilots pass through from 65 feet to 80 feet. Eliminated is the high-g "Quatro" turn through a set of four pylons due to the exceedingly high g-forces on planes and pilots.
Added to the competition will be a new Challengers Cup providing aspiring racers experience under less pressure on days before the Red Bull races.
For more information, visit the Red Bull Air Race website.