Red Bull Air Race 2018 Opens in Abu Dhabi

Fourteen teams begin a season of eight races around the world.

Red Bull Air Race
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes off in Abu Dhabi this weekend to officially begin the 2018 season.Red Bull

The 2018 season of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship is taking off this week in Abu Dhabi, with top aerobatic racers battling it out around the inflatable pylon courses made famous by the racing series.

Fourteen pilots are competing in the Masters Class this year. Among the previous contestants are Americans Kirby Chambliss and Michael Goulian, Canadian Pete McCloud, Australian Matt Hall, Czech Martin Sonka, and last year’s champion, Yoshi Muroya from Japan, who barely beat Sonka in 2017’s exciting season final.

"I've never looked forward to a kickoff with so much anticipation," said Red Bull Air Race general manager Erich Wolf. "The 2017 season had us on the edge of our seats, and because it was so close, every team sees a chance for glory and is going for it." Several teams have modified the race airplanes to maximize their chances of winning. Click here to learn more about how the teams optimize the speed around the course.

The 14th contestant is Ben Murphy from Great Britain, who is joining the group after moving up from the Challenger class where he raced for two years.

As with previous years, the Red Bull Air Races will travel from country to country. After the first race in Abu Dhabi, February 2 to 3, the group will head to Cannes, France, April 21 to 22; a yet to be determined location in Europe May 26 to 27; Budapest, Hungary, June 23 to 24; a location in Asia August 4 to 5; Kazan, Russia August 25 to 26; and Indianapolis October 6 to 7. The final race is scheduled to take place in November at a location in Asia that has not yet been finalized.

More than 80 Red Bull Air Races have been conducted since the first event took place in 2003.