French pilot Mika Brageot back in the championship chase with Wiener Neustadt debut this weekend 

As the Red Bull Air Race returns to its Austrian roots on 15-16 September, pilot Mika Brageot of France will race over a historic airfield in Wiener Neustadt for the first time. Despite the surprise of a race-day penalty at the previous stop in Kazan, Russia, the Frenchman remains at fourth in the World Championship standings. Now, he and his #11RACING team are aiming to use what they have learned to draw closer to the overall podium.

 

History’s first Red Bull Air Race was held at Zeltweg, Austria fifteen years ago, and in recent seasons the series has also stopped in nearby Spielberg, where Brageot took first place in the sport’s second competition category (Challenger Class) in 2015. But the Wiener Neustadt stop brings the race to new Austrian terrain at the grassy expanse of Europe’s oldest and largest natural airfield, making the surroundings as unfamiliar to veterans of the sport as it is to the young Frenchman, who has surpassed all expectations in only his second season at the World Championship level.

 

“It’s always exciting to race at a new stop, and coming here only three weeks after Russia, we’re more motivated than ever,” declares Brageot. “We weren’t happy with that result, but we aren’t going to let it go to waste.”

 

As every #11RACING fan knows, Brageot and his teammates have built on an unprecedented rookie season in 2017 to take the fight right to the leaders this year, including a career-first podium with second place in Budapest, Hungary. So a costly mistake in Kazan, where Brageot incurred a penalty for momentarily going over the G-force limit allowed in the rules, came as a shock, breaking an enviable seven-race string of advancements into the elite Round of 8.

Taking the “if you’re not winning, you’re learning” philosophy, the team members have forged forward in the three weeks since that race, arriving in Austria determined to be even stronger than they were before.

 

“Our tactician Max [Lamb] and technician Anthony [Bezard] have been studying all the data we got from the raceplane, putting that information together with what they anticipate from the new racetrack at Wiener Neustadt,” reports Vicky Griffiths, the team coordinator for #11RACING. “Meanwhile, Mika has just been competing at the highest level of the European Aerobatic Championships [winning the European Team tittle and 3 individual medals], so he has definitely stayed sharp and G-fit.”

 

As the first race over land this season, as well as the first to feature a tricky standing start, Wiener Neustadt will serve up additional opportunities for learning – which may prove particularly valuable as the calendar rushes toward its conclusion with two subsequent over-land races in the United States.

 

Brageot’s current fourth place overall is based on an accumulation of 27 World Championship points, which give him a five-point margin over defending World Champion Yoshihide Muroya of Japan. The Frenchman’s gap to an overall podium position is admittedly significant (22 points), but not insurmountable if one of the leaders should falter, and in the meantime another race podium or a career-first win would be a notable milestone for such a new team.

 

“You have to expect some ups and downs in sport, and while we were unlucky in Kazan, the team’s performance together was strong, so we are confident we can find our consistency again,” Brageot states. “Wiener Neustadt will be the last European race of the season, and we will give it everything we’ve got.”

 

Mika Brageot and #11RACING will fly in Wiener Neustadt on 15-16 September 2018. For tickets and all the World Championship news: www.redbullairrace.com.

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