The first round of the Air Race 1 World Cup held in Monastir, Tunisia on 7th June 2015, has been won by Thom Richard at an average overall speed of 373KPH in his unique aeroplane “Hot Stuff”.
Thousands of spectators turned out to watch the first-ever air race in Africa in what has become known as the Formula One air racing class.
An overheating engine in the qualifying heat forced Richard to pull out, which set him back for the semi-final. However, after the Hot Stuff pit crew worked on the problem between races, the Swede was able to take part in the semi-final and gain poll position in the final round.
The race final was said to be one of the most exciting and competitive the sport has seen. Out of a field of eight aircraft, one team had to withdraw due to mechanical issues and another that had gained the number two position ended up at the back because of a penalty for a late engine start.
The local crowd’s favourite, Jay Jones, who was showcasing a series of innovative enhancements to his aircraft, ended up in second place as Richard streaked past him in the final moments, and Mike Mundell, a relative newcomer from the US, was placed third overall.
Thom Richard said after the race: “It was a hard fought contest on an unfamiliar circuit in a demanding new environment. All the teams out there today were hungry to win this first race in the Air Race 1 World Cup series and there were many contenders to watch out for.
“I feel good about the way I flew and I’m proud of our team for coming together and taking the trophy in this round. It was particularly special to win in front of the enthusiastic new fans in Tunisia who really made the difference in ensuring a successful event and an exciting race. We thank Monastir and the airport for its hospitality.”
The Hot Stuff Crew Chief Brenden Burns added: “We began race preparations with a great airplane with a novel design, but that isn’t enough to beat the elite racers in this class. We worked tirelessly day and night to perfect every detail of the design and engine to extract every ounce of performance out of her. Then it’s down to the pilot to make it all count in the eight minutes of the race. Thom did a great job delivering on what our engineering team had been setting up and, as usual, Thom didn’t let us down.”
The Silver Class winner, Philip Goforth, from the USA, won a grueling back-and-forth battle against Justin Philipson, who took a close second. The third place finisher Des Hart, who won the Silver Class in 2014 couldn’t quite overcome engine difficulties.
For the full results and the series standings visit www.airrace1.com.