Capping off the Red Bull Air Race season finale at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texan Kirby Chambliss gave the local crowd even more to cheer about with a third place Fort Worth race finish. Martin Šonka (CZE) took home the 2018 series title – the first Red Bull Air Race World Championship of his career – with Matt Hall (AUS) taking second place and Michael Goulian (USA) claiming third.

Team Goulian very nearly took it all in 2018, claiming five race podiums including two wins, one of them at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He came into the Fort Worth season finale holding the overall lead, locked in a tight battle the Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka and Australia’s Matt Hall. But after barely making it out of Race Day’s opening round due to engine issues, he faced Šonka in the Round of 8. Two penalties for the American gave his Czech rival the advancement, and then the title was down to Šonka and Hall as they flew in the Final Four along with Chambliss and Ben Murphy of Great Britain. Hall delivered 53.100s, and it was all up to Šonka, who flew a perfect run to clinch the race win and the title with 52.796s.

“We had an engine problem in the Round of 14 and it put me in the back, so I had to fly against Martin – and he’s been flying fast all week, so we knew we had to go out there and try to win,” said Goulian, who stood on the World Championship podium for the first time in 10 full seasons of racing. “I would’ve kicked myself if I’d gone out there, flew safely and lost by half a second. It’s been an amazing year for me and my team, and I wouldn’t change it at all. We’ll be back stronger next year.”

While the near-miss in the World Championship was bittersweet for Goulian, Chambliss’ third-place race result marked his first Air Racing podium in his home state. “It feels great. I was hoping for the first spot as always, but I’m happy to be on the podium for the third time this season,” remarked Chambliss, who has won two Red Bull Air Race titles. “We had a great team for sure in 2018 but we had a lot of issues – airplane issues and I made a few mistakes along the way. So I think this is a good beginning for 2019 and we’ll start out strong. I’d love to win the World Championship again.”

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Results – Master Class Race, Fort Worth 2018: 1. Martin Šonka (CZE), 2. Matt Hall (AUS), 3. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 4. Ben Murphy (GBR), 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 6. Mika Brageot (FRA), 7. Juan Velarde (ESP), 8. Michael Goulian (USA), 9. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 10. François Le Vot (FRA), 11. Pete McLeod (CAN), 12. Petr Kopfstein (CZE), 13. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 14. Cristian Bolton (CHI)

Final standings, 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship: 1. Martin Šonka (CZE) 80 points,  2. Matt Hall (AUS) 75 pts, 3. Michael Goulian (USA) 73 pts, 4. Mika Brageot 41 pts, 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 40 pts, 6. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 34 pts, 7. Ben Murphy (GBR) 29 pts, 8. Pete McLeod (CAN) 27 pts, 9. Juan Velarde (ESP) 24 pts, 10. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 22 pts, 11. François Le Vot (FRA) 22 pts, 12. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 17 pts, 13. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 16 pts, 14. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 12 pts

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Aayushi Pramanik

Aayushi Pramanik is a student at Williams College. When not working or studying economics and math, she enjoys dancing, singing, and taking countless photos with her camera.