A blur on the Côte d’Azur: Sweden’s Ryfa wins Challenger Class Qualifying
In Saturday’s Qualifying for the first-ever Red Bull Air Race in France, Challenger Class pilot Daniel Ryfa of Sweden flew so fast through the racetrack at Cannes that he captured pole position even with a one-second penalty. Dario Costa from nearby Italy clocked the second-best time, and Hungary’s Daniel Genevey finished third. The field of six pilots – including two French favorites – start with a clean slate when Race Day takes off Sunday.
Cannes, France – Pole position is familiar territory for Ryfa, who also topped Challenger Class Qualifying at the Red Bull Air Race season opener in Abu Dhabi, but it was hard won. The Swede was penalized a full second for executing the Vertical Turning Manoeuvre (VTM) incorrectly, and had an anxious wait to see if anyone could top his resulting time of 1:03.761. Costa – in only the second Qualifying session of his career – came closest, just 0.389 behind.
Ryfa, who is chasing the Challenger Cup for the fourth year after being among the top three overall in every one of his previous seasons in the second competition category of the Red Bull Air Race, knows that he can’t relax now: After seizing the pole in Abu Dhabi, he looked like a lock to win on Race Day, only to hit a pylon in the penultimate gate, dropping him to fifth.
“I have to be sure not to relax because of Abu Dhabi, which was a similar situation – you feel very comfortable as the winner of Quali and you have everything set. Then on Race Day someone sets a really good time and there is huge pressure, and with the pressure, you might have to go full force, and then you start making mistakes. So we will see,” said the pilot. “I didn’t expect the penalty I got today because it was for incorrect VTM, and from inside of the plane it didn’t look like I did anything strange, but you learn every time you run through the track. Overall, however, I’m super happy with the flight. Everything is possible.”
The two French contenders in the Race on the Riviera, Mélanie Astles and Batpiste Vignes, raised the biggest cheers from the packed grandstands on the Croisette, and even South African pilot Patrick Davidson was supported by family who made the long trip to watch him fly over the Croisette.
Results Challenger Class Qualifying, Cannes 2018:
1. Daniel Ryfa (SWE) 1:03.761,
2. Dario Costa (ITA) 1:04.150,
3. Daniel Genevey (HUN) 1:04.483,
4. Patrick Davidson (RSA) 1:05.131,
5. Mélanie Astles (FRA) 1:05.484,
6. Baptiste Vignes (FRA) 1:06.448
Don’t miss it! Tickets for the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship: www.redbullairrace.com
About Red Bull Air Race
Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship has held more than 80 races around the globe. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 12G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.