Aug 24

RED BULL AIR RACE KAZAN: PRE-RACE

In 2017, Kirby Chambliss made history when he became the first pilot ever to win a Red Bull Air Race World Championship stop in Russia. As the raceplanes return to Kazan on August 25-26, Chambliss will kick off the second half of his 2018 campaign on the quest for a repeat victory in the sporting capital. Here, in his own words, Kirby provides a midseason update…

Kirby, welcome back to Kazan. How does it feel to return to Russia, and what are your expectations for the race on Saturday and Sunday?

KC: We were obviously extremely excited to take the podium in Kazan last year. Now that we’re back, we hope to repeat, but the racetrack is completely different this year.

You’ve won races all over the world, and you’re third on the list when it comes to the number of all-time wins, with 10. Does a switch-up in the track design actually matter so much for someone with your experience?

KC: When you’re competing at this level, everything matters. Let’s just say that it would have been advantageous for us if it were the same, because we flew really well last year – but that’s beyond our control. The new track is the one we have to work with, so we will do the best we can!

Do you have a good idea of how this racetrack will feel compared to the one in 2017?

KC: Of course Paulo [tactician Paulo Iscold] and I have been working on the simulator, but we can’t be absolutely certain how it feels until I get in there and fly the real thing. Last year’s track was so challenging because of the weather, so it could be much easier than last year in ideal conditions. It’s just hard to say.

It was rain and wind that you were dealing with on race day in 2017…

KC: Yes, and I think a contributing factor to our good result last year was the additional challenge of poor weather. We always seem to do well when the conditions aren’t ideal.

All that said, is there anything special about your preparations for this edition in Kazan?

KC: We have been preparing for this race like we do every other race. We always take it seriously, and our goal every time is to win.

It’s been almost nine weeks since the last race in Budapest. What else have you and Team Chambliss been up to?

KC: We all flew directly from Budapest to Alaska for the Arctic Thunder Air Show in Anchorage, then my family and I spent about a week exploring the state before heading to Truckee, at Tahoe in California, for another air show. Next we went directly to Page, Arizona for a special filming project, followed by the EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. To round it all off, we stopped in Indianapolis for a media tour to promote the race in October [the seventh stop of the 2018 season, hosted by Indianapolis Motor Speedway]. It’s been a busy couple of months.

Just one more question: With four stopps down and four to go, the race this weekend will open the second half of the calendar. You’ve already logged one podium this season with third place in Abu Dhabi; what’s the plan from here until the finale in your home state of Texas this November?

KC: The game plan for the second half of the season is the same as it was the first – to go out and win races. We haven’t been too fortunate this first half, but we’re hoping mother luck will help us out a little and turn things around for our team.

 

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