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American Goulian Will Try To Fly One Step Closer to World Title This Weekend in Austria

 

American Michael Goulian will try to keep the lead in the Master Class of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship as the world’s most prestigious aerobatic racing series returns to its roots in Austria.

It has been 15 years since the very first Red Bull Air Race took off in Zeltweg, Austria, but in just a few days the World Championship series will return to its roots at a new venue that holds deep meaning for the European aviation community: Wiener Neustadt. With only three races left and the top three pilots overall separated by just six points, the race Sept. 15-16 in Austria could be the tipping point for the future World Champion.

Goulian, from Plymouth, Massachusetts, leads the elite Master Class by six points, 55-49, over Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic and Matt Hall of Australia. Goulian is the only pilot to make the Final Four of all five events this season. He is flying for his first World Championship, as his previous best season finish was fifth in 2006.

The race at Wiener Neustadt also will set up plenty of excitement for the next race in the season, Oct. 6-7 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s the penultimate event of the 2018 schedule, as the season ends with another American event Nov. 17-18 at Texas Motor Speedway.

IMS and this weekend’s venue in Wiener Neustadt are 4,750 miles apart, but they share two common traits: Both opened in 1909, and both host land-based events in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. The Austrian race this weekend is the first of the season not to take place over water, so pilots will need to adjust their perspective. They also can fly with even more precision, as the 82-foot-tall Air Gates don’t shift as much when on land as when floating on barges on water.

Wiener Neustadt is Europe’s oldest and largest natural airfield. This race also features an unusual standing start, which enables spectators to see the sleek race planes right from takeoff but requires perfect pilot mastery to attain optimal speed.

Other American pilots competing this weekend in Austria are two-time series champion Kirby Chambliss in the Master Class and Kevin Coleman in the Challenger Class, the final step before reaching the elite Master Class. Coleman jumped to third in the Challenger Class standings – just two points behind joint leaders Luke Czepiela and two-time and reigning Challenge Cup champion Florian Berger – after winning the latest round, Aug. 25-26 at Kazan, Russia.

NBCSN will televise a two-hour highlight show of the Wiener Neustadt race from 7-9 p.m. (ET) Monday, Sept. 17.

Tickets are on sale now at IMS.com for the Red Bull Air Race event Oct. 6-7 at the Racing Capital of the World. Visit www.redbullairrace.com for more information on the series.

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