ABOVE: Juan Verlade competing in Heat 2 of the Air Race X semifinal

Pilot Yoshihide Muroya has claimed victory at the inaugural Air Race X series, a novel digital format featuring augmented reality, in a virtual final tournament.

Eight competing pilots (Mike Brageot, Patrick Davidson, Matt Hall, Petr Kopfstein, Matt Hall, Yoshi Muroya, Martin Šonka and Juan Verlade) each took part in a qualifying round ‘held in a remote format at each player’s location around the world’. Flight data from individual flights was collected and collated, enabling judges to allocate positions.

The final race, held on 15 October, brought together the top four qualifying candidates to fly a Final Tournament; digitally superimposed onto the streets of Shibuya, Japan. The final, which was streamed online (and can be viewed here), was also ‘watched’ by spectators on the sidelines through the use of a proprietary app entitled STYLY.

Australia’s Matt Hall (of Matt Hall Racing) claimed third place with 15 championship points, Czech pilot Martin Šonka (of Red Bull Team Sonka) took second with 18 points, and Japan’s Yoshi Muroua (of Lexus Pathfinder Air Racing) soared to victory with a winning 25 points.

Event organisers hope to expand the format in future years, explaining that ‘Air Race X will evolve in all aspects of the competition, XR technology, and spectator style’. 2024’s series is set to include four digital rounds rather than 2023’s one, with ‘every city and town in the world… able to become a space for experiencing races’. A world series championship could also be held as soon as 2026.