Thom Richard of Sweden has claimed victory in the first round of the Air Race 1 World Cup held in Monastir, Tunisia on 7th June 2015 in front of thousands of spectators. Richard flew across the finish line ahead of the pack at an average overall speed of 373KPH in his unique airplane “Hot Stuff” to win the first-ever air race in Africa in what is known as the formula one air racing class.
Richard had some difficulties with an overheating engine in the qualifying heat race on Saturday forcing him to pull out of the race and setting him back for the semi-final. The pit crew for Hot Stuff worked out the problem between races and Richard was able to fight his way forward in the semi-final, gradually overtaking some of the other favorites in a nail-biting finish to gain pole in the final round.
The final race in Monastir was no disappointment, even after some of the most exciting and competitive racing the sport has seen. The field of eight aircraft in the final race was shaken up by the withdrawal of one team due to mechanical issues and another contender in the number two position having to start at the back of the order following a penalty for late engine start.
Local crowd favorite Jay Jones racing #45 came in second place showing off a series of innovative enhancements to his aircraft and Mike Mundell, a relative newcomer out of USA, in #33 proved himself a worthy series contender placing third overall.
The Silver Class winner, Philip Goforth, also from the USA, won a grueling back-and-forth battle against Justin Philipson who took a close second. The third place finisher Des Hart, who won the Silver Class in 2014 couldn’t quite overcome some engine difficulties.
Thom Richard, pilot for team Hot Stuff, Race #1, said: “It was a hard fought contest on an unfamiliar circuit in a demanding new environment. All the teams out there today were hungry to win this first race in the Air Race 1 World Cup series and there were many contenders to watch out for. I feel good about the way I flew and I’m proud of our team for coming together and taking the trophy in this round. It was particularly special to win in front of the enthusiastic new fans in Tunisia who really made the difference in ensuring a successful event and an exciting race. We thank Monastir and the airport for its hospitality.”
Hot Stuff Crew Chief Brenden Burns said: “We began race preparations with a great airplane with a novel design, but that isn’t enough to beat the elite racers in this class. We worked tirelessly day and night to perfect every detail of the design and engine to extract every ounce of performance out of her. Then it’s down to the pilot to make it all count in the eight minutes of the race. Thom did a great job delivering on what our engineering team had been setting up and, as usual, Thom didn’t let us down.”
For full results and series standings visit www.airrace1.com.