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Sonka Seizes First Red Bull Air Race World Championship

For the second year in a row, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship came down to the final flight of the final race, and both times, the pilot under pressure was Šonka. Last year, the Czech ace saw the title slip through his fingers. In Fort Worth, it was Goulian who came into the season finale with the overall lead, but after barely making it out of the opening round due to engine issues, he faced Šonka in the Round of 8. Two penalties for the American gave his Czech rival the advancement, and then the title was down to Šonka and Hall as they flew in the Final 4 along with Chambliss and Ben Murphy of Great Britain. Hall delivered 53.100s, and then it was final-flight déjà vu for Šonka. With the weight of the World Championship on his shoulders, the Czech hero delivered a perfect run and clinched the title with 52.796s.

“It’s a different story than last season, and it’s my biggest sporting achievement. Unfortunately, the only thing that I missed was having Mikey [Goulian] in the Final 4 as well, but it was a beautiful race and I think everyone, especially the Czech spectators, enjoyed it,” smiled Šonka, who produced an incredible comeback across 2018 after getting Disqualification penalties at the season’s first two races. “For the last flight I managed to have a clear head. I heard that Matt [Hall] flew a super time, and I knew I had to push harder and definitely not do a penalty or mistake, and I managed. I cannot be happier.”

When the race awards were handed out at Texas Motor Speedway, the cheers for third-place Chambliss, a Texas native, were as loud as those for race winner Šonka and second-place Hall. Then, when the World Championship trophy was presented, Šonka was sprayed with champagne by Hall and Goulian, in the biggest celebration of the season.

Results Master Class Race, Fort Worth 2018:1. Martin Šonka (CZE), 2. Matt Hall (AUS), 3. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 4. Ben Murphy (GBR), 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 6. Mika Brageot (FRA), 7. Juan Velarde (ESP), 8. Michael Goulian (USA), 9. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 10. François Le Vot (FRA), 11. Pete McLeod (CAN), 12. Petr Kopfstein (CZE), 13. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 14. Cristian Bolton (CHI)   

Final standings, 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship: 1.Martin Šonka (CZE) 80 points,  2. Matt Hall (AUS) 75 pts, 3. Michael Goulian (USA) 73 pts, 4. Mika Brageot 41 pts, 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 40 pts, 6. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 34 pts, 7. Ben Murphy (GBR) 29 pts, 8. Pete McLeod (CAN)

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