Salzburg, Austria – Chiba has been magic for Muroya: the Team Falken pilot set a track record at the Red Bull Air Race debut in the city in 2015, earned his career-first race win there in 2016, and then clinched a repeat victory in front of ecstatic crowds last year on his way to claiming Asia’s first World Championship in the new dimension of motorsport. Already beloved by fans, Muroya’s success has elevated him to superstar status. Chiba tickets frequently sell out – with a record of 120,000 spectators packing Makuhari Beach over the 2015 race weekend alone – and demand is expected to be higher than ever for the upcoming action on 26-27 May 2018.

Also higher than ever will be the expectations of Japan’s super fans; and adding to the pressure will be perhaps the most competitive lineup in the history of Air Racing. Among those challenging Muroya in the 14-pilot field will be two former World Champions – Kirby Chambliss of the USA and Matthias Dolderer of Germany – plus the standouts who earned the second and third steps of the overall podium in 2017, the Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka and Canada’s Pete McLeod.

Meanwhile, this season Michael Goulian from the United States has taken the early lead in the points with a win at February’s season opener in Abu Dhabi, pushing Muroya to second. And anything can happen at the next stop on the eight-race calendar, when the World Championship makes its French premiere above Cannes on 20-22 April. Then all eyes will turn to Japan, where the changing winds of Tokyo Bay will act as an additional opponent as pilots fly through the 25-meter-high Air Gates at 370kmh while sustaining forces of up to 12G.

“We want to bring Japan another World Championship at the end of this season, and we’re working very hard to make our raceplane even faster,” said Muroya. “A home race is special, and we are very happy to have the opportunity to fly in Chiba again. Yes, there’s pressure, but the support we feel from the fans always gives us a boost.“

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Red Bull Air Race 2018 Calendar
2-3 February: Abu Dhabi, UAE
20-22 April: Cannes, France
26-27 May: Chiba, Japan
23-24 June: Budapest, Hungary
25-26 August: Kazan, Russia
September: TBA
6-7 October: Indianapolis, USA
November: TBA