French pilots dominated the first Red Bull Air Race of the season in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Nicolas Ivanoff held off Mathias Dolderer of Germany to win the race by a tenth of a second. Frenchman Francois LeVot, who is just starting his second season on the tour, was four seconds back of the leaders but that was still good enough for third place. LeVot was ranked 14th going into the race. Hannes Arch, of Austria, was fourth, Americans Kirby Chambliss and Mike Goulian were fifth and sixth, and Canadian Pete McLeod was seventh.
The race had its share of drama with several of the favorites, including Matt Hall, of Australia, retiring early because of airborne miscues, like hitting pylons and rule violations. The race series moves to Spielberg, Austria, April 23-24 and will wend its way through Europe (with a stop in Japan) before wrapping up the season with races in Indianapolis and Las Vegas in October.