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By Nick Jones on 7.8.2023

Red Bull Air Race 2008 – London

The panoramic available from DLR trains kept me entertained as we moved our way towards East India tube station with planes zipping around overhead. The excitement of this was not lost on the rest of the carriage and as we stepped off the train the sound of fast speeds, low flying, ‘knife edges’, pylons, adverting and Australian race directors kicked in.

As I walked riverside, childhood ambitions to be a pilot once again swept over me, and I began to feel giddy, whilst the commentators announced that an epic battle was taking place, and so did the cheering crowd of 40,000 spectators in weather that can only be described as bleak.

Anyway, my giddiness behind me, I turned on, tuned in and dropped out to appropriate accompanying ‘prog’ rock and excitable commentators, where it transpired that original favorite and competition leader, Paul Bonhomme, had hit a pylon, which as a result, had lost him valuable time and points in the super-8 stage, leaving him to finish in a sober 7th place overall, and scoring a meager 3 points.

Meanwhile, 41 year old Hannes Arch, the youngest pilot in the competition, who had previously placed at 2,4,3,2 respectively in this year’s race, was making headway. He raced through the course at breakneck speeds, pulling upwards of 9G’s and finishing with the fastest time in the super-8 stage with the astonishing time of 1:21.25, leaving Chambliss, Beseyei and Ivanoff to take 2nd, 3rd and 4th place in this round.

Next came the semi-finals, and the tension increased, with Arch dropping to a considerably slower 1:31:07, sending him directly to a third place play off with Besenyei, who had improved from the Super-8 stage from 1:24:28 to 1:23:50, yet still didn’t quite ‘cut the mustard’.

This left Frenchman Ivanoff, flying his ‘Extra 300SR’ Racing plane, to battle it out with Kirby Chambliss. This was a significant achievement for Ivanoff, after scoring 0 points in both the San Diego and Rotterdam legs of the race and placing 6th and 9th in Detroit and Abu Dhabi races respectively.

The atmosphere before the final was tense and further excitement was added as weather conditions did not improve leaving the skies leaden, grey and with strange winds. And o, the stage was set. Chambliss verses Ivanoff. Chambliss, 2006 champion, considerably faster in the semi-finals than Ivanhoff whose time was 1:24:28 compared to Chambliss’ 1:22:26, had it all to play for. Whilst 10th place pilot Ivanoff could do with a win.

Helicopter stunts filled the period of wait before the final. Awesome back flips, stall turns, barrel rolls and stunts that wouldn’t’t look out of place in a ‘Die Hard’ film, left the audience awestruck, and quite confused.

So, the final round of the London leg had started and the giddy feeling returned, all the while, my admiration for the pilots shone through and they reminded me of the x-wing pilots in star wars, less epic, but still as intense. Chambliss and Ivanoff battled it out, Chambliss winning over Ivanoff and the London stage with a time of 1:21:28 scoring 9 points, compared to Ivanoff’s 1:24:62 scoring 8 points. The third place taken by Austrian Arch with a time of 1:21.51 and gaining 7 points.

The race was a thrill, certainly worth seeing again, and Red Bull certainly knows how to entertain journalists and spectators alike, but in any case thumbs up for the race.

Comments

  • What can I say, I wasn’t on mozilla firefox. I have no instant spell checker.

    I can reassure people that I can spell reading.

    By chairman on 12.8.2023

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  • And yes, before you ask, I did spell “illiteracy” wrong on purpose 😉

    By Nick Gill on 11.8.2023

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  • Charlie did you spell reading with two e’s on purpose? A cheeky attempt to show inQuire’s illteracy perhaps or your lack of proof-reading? Standards my dear!

    By Nick Gill on 11.8.2023

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  • further to your request for more, this is probably a column you’d enjoy, it’s called ‘tales from the other side of the pond’

    http://www.inquirelive.co.uk/node/625

    http://www.inquirelive.co.uk/node/668

    http://www.inquirelive.co.uk/node/720

    By chairman on 11.8.2023

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  • Aha, finally, someone’s been reeding Tom Wolfe!

    However Mr Hartley, As the chairperson of inQuire, I find you suggestion that the editor reads Hunter S Thompson slightley patronizing.

    Personally I have read The Rum Diaries, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and two volumes of his Letters. So naturally I do salute this article, and would love to see more of this writing style in both our newspaper and on the website.

    However, Tom, I’m afraid we are dealing with a student body that is actually, by and large, ‘generic, objective and (small c) conservative’ so we are simply trying to make the best of finite resources.

    By Charlie Baylis on 11.8.2023

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  • Well i would like to say that this article is ascerbic, energetic and vigorous. As a regular reader of Inquire, it would be intersting to see more of this type of excellent gonzo-esq journalism. The University of Kent is certainly not a place where students are conservative. Demographically and statiscally speaking, students tend to be more centre-left, and Inquire’s journalism should represent the university as a student body, not printing or publishing the generic, objective and (small c) conservative reporting that dominates so much of writing in university newspapers nationally.

    My one critique of the article would be that it doesn’t neccessarily dwell on the race as a coherrent event or comprehensively, but in the context of the review, I think that its subjectivity gives it an expressive, poetic and informative feel. It is certainly journalism that is worth displaying, and I suggest, editor, that you read the Works of Hunter S Thompson. More please…

    By Tom Hartley on 7.8.2023

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