More than 12 months have passed since Australian Red Bull Air Race World Championship pilot Matt Hall has won a race, and now the Novocastrian is hungry to add a seventh victory to his resume as the series heads to Lake Balaton in Hungary.
For the fifth time in his career, Hall is entrenched in a tussle for the world championship and currently sits in third place. Ahead of him in the pecking order are reigning world champion Martin Šonka of the Czech Republic and 2017 world champion Yoshihide Muroya of Japan.
Despite being one of the most experienced pilots when it comes to racing for an air race world title, the top gong has eluded Hall on his four previous attempts.
In 2015, 19-time race winner Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain denied him championship victory by the narrowest of margins, while in 2018 the Aussie snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when Šonka beat him by three tenths of a second in the final race and claimed the title.
With just two races remaining in the 2019 series – the final year the air race world championship will be contested – Hall’s focus is firmly on victory and closing the 17-point gap to the championship lead.
“The last time we won a race was at the end of May last year in Japan, and I am ready to win another and put myself right into this championship equation,” Hall said.
“With only four races this season, it is harder than ever to win the title as there are so few opportunities to get points. So far Yoshi has won two races, and I think if we want to be champions, we need to do the same and that begins this weekend.
“I could say that we’re just hoping to achieve the best result we can, but I would be lying to myself if I said that. The reality is that I walked away from a career as a fighter pilot a decade ago to pursue the dream of being the Red Bull Air Race World Champion and I am yet to do that. The series is ending and the only thing I want is to win this race and the decider in Japan. That’s what we are aiming for.”
Hall heads to Hungary on the back of a second-placed finish at the previous race in Kazan.
While not discounting others were capable of challenging for the title, Hall said Šonka and Muroya were the undoubted frontrunners.
“You can never discount anyone in this sport, but those two guys [Šonka and Muroya] are undoubtedly the ones to beat,” Hall said.
“I think popular opinion is that it will be a two-horse race to the finish of this series, but there are still 56 points up for grabs and I’m only 17 behind. I want to make it a three-way battle.”
The 93rd Red Bull Air Race event and penultimate race of 2019 takes place this weekend at Lake Balaton, Hungary.
Qualifying commences on Saturday (local time) and the race concludes on Sunday.
Red Bull Air Race world championship standings
Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) – 53
Martin Šonka (CZE) – 44
Matt Hall (AUS) – 36
Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) – 30
Mika Brageot (FRA) – 26
Michael Goulian (USA) – 25
François Le Vot (FRA) – 21
Juan Velarde (ESP) – 16
Ben Murphy (GBR) – 15
Cristian Bolton (CHI) – 13
Kirby Chambliss (USA) – 13
Pete McLeod (CAN) – 10
Petr Kopfstein (CZE) – 5
Matthias Dolderer (GER) – 3