Matt Hall has become the first Australian to win the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, realising a dream eight seasons in the making at the season-decider in Chiba, Japan.
Having previously finished championship runner-up on three other occasions, Hall needed only to finish third in Sunday’s race, and he did just that in order to secure a maiden title.
Hall finished one point ahead of Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya Hall in the overall standings, with Czech pilot Martin Šonka third in the title chase.
Hall said it was a relief to finally be a champion on a day he described to be emotionally challenging.
“It is absolutely huge relief, I was so worried that I would become the most famous bridesmaid in history, so to actually finally get it is a huge relief. It was becoming so frustrating. I feel we have earnt it,” Hall said as he came to terms with his achievement.
“There was pressure there today, I have been through this [a world championship deciding race] four times before. But there was more pressure this time because it was the last chance to do it with the race ending. I was trying to play it cool in front of the cameras and keep it on rails, but deep down it was a tough week. Today was a hard day emotionally.”
With his championship quest now over, Hall will finish his Red Bull Air Race career with one world championship, seven race wins and 30 podiums. The Newcastle native stopped short of saying he deserved to win this year’s championship but acknowledged that the result was an important career goal.
“I try not to say that I deserve stuff, but we have always been there, and we have always been pushing the championship leaders. To be on the podium five times for the championship and not get one would have been something you don’t get over for the rest of your life,” Hall said.
“I can finally say I am a world champion.”
VIDEO: Matt Hall’s winning flight in the Red Bull Air Race event in Chiba, Japan, from the Matt Hall Racing Facebook page.
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Sunday was the conclusion the Red Bull Air Race, following 94 races since the inception of the sport in 2003.
The result makes Hall the 10th world champion since the air race attained world championship status in 2006. He will travel back to Australia later this week, with his first public event to be AirVenture Australia in Parkes, NSW on September 20-22.
VIDEO: Highlights from the Red Bull Air Race at Chiba in Japan from the competition’s YouTube channel.
CHIBA RACE RESULT
- Yoshihide Muroya (JPN)
- Kirby Chambliss (USA)
- Matt Hall (AUS)
- Pete McLeod (CAN)
- Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA)
- Mika Brageot (FRA)
- François Le Vot (FRA)
- Ben Murphy (GBR)
- Michael Goulian (USA)
- Juan Velarde (ESP)
- Cristian Bolton (CHI)
- Matthias Dolderer (GER)
- Martin Šonka (CZE)
- Petr Kopfstein (CZE)
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
- Matt Hall (AUS) – 81
- Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) – 80
- Martin Šonka (CZE) – 68
- Ben Murphy (GBR) – 48
- Kirby Chambliss (USA) – 48
- Pete McLeod (CAN) – 48
- Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) – 47
- Mika Brageot (FRA) – 44
- Michael Goulian (USA) – 42
- Juan Velarde (ESP) – 39
- François Le Vot (FRA) – 34
- Cristian Bolton (CHI) – 27
- Petr Kopfstein (CZE) – 10
- Matthias Dolderer (GER) – 6
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