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Bonhomme Wins Red Bull Race

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Photo: Joerg Mitter

Photo: Joerg Mitter

Defending champion Paul Bonhomme of the U.K. edged arch rival Hannes Arch of Austria to win the first event in the revived Red Bull Air Race series in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Bonhomme, who won the 2009 and 2010 Red Bull titles over Arch, before the race series took a recession-induced three-year hiatus, won the final race with a time through the circuit of inflated pylons of 56.439 seconds, barely a third of a second faster than Arch's 56.776. “There was huge pressure out there and it was so much work to get back here,” said Bonhomme. Much of that pressure came from relative newcomer Pete McLeod, of Canada, who, at 30, is the youngest pilot in the field and came third.

McLeod beat Bonhomme and Arch in qualifying and started in the pole position in Saturday's race. He's among the pilots who have benefited from rule changes that put more emphasis on pilot skills than team budgets to do well in the races. For instance, all aircraft use the same engine this year. Kirby Chambliss and Mike Goulian, the two U.S. pilots in the field of 12, finished in the bottom two places. The next race in the series is in Rovinj, Croatia, April 12-13. There are two races in the U.S., including Fort Worth Sept. 6-7 and Las Vegas Oct. 11-12.

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