Like a referee at one of the famed Las Vegas boxing matches, Hungary’s Peter Besenyei took Britain’s Paul Bonhomme and Australia’s Matt Hall on a tour of the Grand Canyon that was the equivalent of a handshake before a title fight. But as the Red Bull Air Race season finale on Sunday begins, the gloves will come off – and one of the two will be crowned 2015 World Champion.
As the climax of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship season looms on the glittering Las Vegas horizon this October 17–18 Paul Bonhomme, Australia’s Matt Hall and Peter Besenyei of Hungary took to a flight outside the neon city to drink in one of the most breathtaking sights on the planet: the Grand Canyon.
Carved a mile (1.6km) deep by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon’s astonishing panorama has been a source of inspiration and wonder for centuries, and roughly five million visitors are drawn to its rim annually. But rare is the stunning perspective enjoyed by the Red Bull Air Race pilots in their agile raceplanes.
After seven races since February, only Team Bonhomme and Matt Hall Racing still have a chance to clinch the World Championship crown at Sunday’s season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Bonhomme, already a two-time champion, leads the series a mere eight points ahead of Hall, who is eager to claim his first-ever title. While much has been made of the classic sporting matchup between an Englishman and an Australian, the pilots say it’s the most friendly of rivalries – right up until race time. Then, as they say in Las Vegas, all bets are off.
In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world’s top pilots hit speeds of 370 kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons.