Sep 14


The very first Red Bull Air Race took place in Zeltweg, Austria in 2003, and as it happens, that is the only race Kirby has missed in the 15 years since. But he did get an opportunity to race in Zeltweg in 2005, as well as at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria – where in 2015 he finished on the podium in third.

“It feels great to be returning to Austria. As a whole it is one of the most beautiful countries the series stops at, and I always look forward to racing here,” says Kirby. “This year we’re at a location that we’ve never raced in Austria before, so we’ve been excited about the chance to see more of the country.”

Wiener Neustadt is one of the oldest airfields in Europe, and when it was founded in the early 1900s, no one could have imagined that raceplanes would be zipping through a track of 82-foot-high pylons while sustaining forces up to 12G. The action on Saturday and Sunday will see the first land-based racetrack of 2018, with two more to come as the World Championship reaches its conclusion with a stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October and the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway shortly before Thanksgiving.

It is also the first race of the season with a standing start, where the raceplanes take off and fly directly into the racetrack instead of approaching from a distance, which makes it more difficult to reach optimal speed right from the get-go. Kirby spent the short break between races back home in Arizona, deep in preparation.

“After a bumpy first half of the season, we feel like we’re finally headed back in the right direction,” says the Texas native, whose Kazan podium was his first since a third-place finish at Abu Dhabi in February. “We’re off the pace for a championship title this year, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t just as hungry for race wins!”

Kirby concludes, “We’ll continue to focus on each race individually and try to win, one race at a time.”

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