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Japan's Muroya Qualifies First for Sunday's Red Bull Air Race

In the parlance of traditional events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, call Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya the pole winner for Sunday’s inaugural Red Bull Air Race.

Muroya clocked the fastest time in Saturday’s qualifying, completing three trips around the 1.85-mile IMS circuit in 1 minute, 2.073 seconds. Australia’s Matt Hall qualified second in a time of 1:02.255.

“This is the center of the racing world, it’s an honor to be the (top) qualifier,” said Muroya, seventh in season points with one win. “The track is difficult to fly, but it’s quite fun. For me, there’s a lot of pressure, but there’s a lot of fan support.”

Matthias Dolderer, the championship points leader coming to Indianapolis, qualified fourth. After the first of two qualifying runs he was last among the 14 pilots, but flew cleaner and quicker on his second run. If he finishes first or second on Sunday, he’ll win the 2016 title.

Americans Kirby Chambliss (Corpus Christi, Texas) and Michael Goulian (Plymouth, Massachusetts) qualified eighth and ninth.

“I’m super-excited about being here, the history of this place is all about racing,” Chambliss said. “The fans are super excited; I’ve got no jet lag as an excuse. (Sunday’s) the one that matters.

In Sunday’s race, starting just after 1 p.m., the 14 Master Class pilots will match up in seven head-to-head matches, seeded by qualifying times. The fastest in each pair, plus the fastest among the first-round losers, will advance to the Round of 8, then those winners will face off to set the final four. Each pilot will then make one more run with the fastest winning the title.

In Challenger Cup qualifying, Kevin Coleman of Coushatta, Louisiana, took the top spot with a time of 1 minute, 17.032 seconds, 2.656 seconds ahead of Poland’s Luke Czepiela. France’s Melanie Astles, the only woman competing this weekend, qualified third in a time of 1:20.245 with a pair of two-second penalties for incorrect level flying.

“I was a little too aggressive and the time wasn’t that great, so I’m not too happy with the flying, but happy to be qualified in first for the first time ever, and especially at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Coleman said.

The Challenger Cup race will take place at noon on Sunday.

More information on the Red Bull Air Race at IMS, including a daily schedule, maps, gate regulations, facility hours, driving directions and more can be accessed via www.ims.com/planyourvisit and the IMS mobile app. Gates open at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Tickets are still available for this inaugural event and can be purchased at the gate or www.ims.com/tickets.  

About Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 

In 2016, the Racing Capital of the World returns to its aviation roots, hosting the inaugural Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The weekend will feature the best pilots in the world hitting speeds of over 230 mph and pulling nearly 10 Gs. Red Bull will also bring the world of extreme sports to IMS, with top athletes performing demos in disciplines such as slacklining, motocross and BMX. 

Created in 2003 and officially a world championship in 2005, the Red Bull Air Race has held over 65 races and is watched by millions of fans. 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 navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 82-feet-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was introduced, giving new pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills. But one thing remains the same: The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is the most thrilling motorsports competition in the sky.

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