Kazan, Russia – The 2017 overall runner-up Sonka came into Kazan on a high after claiming his first race win of the 2018 season in Budapest, yet struggled to find the best lines in the Russian racetrack and finished 12th in Qualifying. But in Sunday’s race the Czech star was on rails, clocking the fastest time in the opening Round of 14 and doing the same in the Round of 8. The Final 4 piled on the pressure, as Chambliss and Goulian – who were first and third in Kazan in 2017 – as well as Spain’s Juan Velarde all logged times under 53 seconds. It was all up to Sonka, and split times were neck-and-neck, but in the end Sonka pulled off 52.123s, outpacing Goulian by just 0.115s for the win and a jump up the overall leaderboard.

The day was not so happy for defending World Champion Yoshihide Muroya of Japan, or for the man who had arrived in Kazan at the top of the overall standings, Australia’s Matt Hall, as both ended their day in the Round of 8 due to penalties. The Russian result boosts Goulian, the most consistent pilot of the season with four race podiums and five Final 4 appearances, back to the top with 55 points, while Sonka and Hall are now tied for second in the points at 49. French standout Mika Brageot and Muroya managed to hold tight in the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, but have seen the points gap to the leaders widen.

“This was definitely one of the most difficult races we have ever experienced because we were struggling with everything here. Nothing was working for us, so it was a great team effort to put it together today. All the work that went behind this result makes it even better,” said Sonka. “For me personally, I’m not thinking about the season itself. Now we can start to think about the next race in Wiener Neustadt, and that’s another task in front of us. We have to be focused.

Next, the Red Bull Air Race goes back to its roots with the first Austrian stop since 2016. The showdown at Wiener Neustadt will also mark the last race in Europe before the World Championship moves to the United States for the final two stops of the season.

Grab a seat! Tickets for the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship – including the sport’s debut in Wiener Neustadt, Austria – are on sale now. For more information on tickets and all the latest, visit www.redbullairrace.com

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

World Championship standings after five races:1. Michael Goulian (USA) 55 points, 2. Martin Sonka (CZE) 49 pts, 3. Matt Hall (AUS) 49 pts, 4. Mika Brageot (FRA) 27 pts, 5. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 22 pts, 6. François Le Vot (FRA) 20 pts, 7. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 19 pts, 8. Juan Velarde (ESP) 16 pts, 9. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 15 pts, 10. Ben Murphy (GBR) 15 pts, 11. Pete McLeod (CAN) 11 pts, 12. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 10 pts, 13. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 6 pts, 14. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 6 pts