Red Bull Air Race World Championship

13 Aug 2016

Red Bull Air Race 2016: Kevin Coleman wins Challenger Class in Ascot

Kevin Coleman won the Challenger Class at the Red Bull Air Race in Ascot, England on Saturday 13 August 2016, the first win of his air racing career.

The pilot is the youngest in the series this year, but showed his skill with a comprehensive win – he was nearly a full half-second faster than second-placed Florian Berger of Germany, and nearly two seconds ahead of Chile’s Christian Bolton in third. Coleman’s lap time was 1:19.478.

Introduced in 2014, the Challenger Cup is an element of the Red Bull Air Race created to help the next generation of pilots develop. And while competition is part of the program, the primary objective is to learn and expand skills. New to the Challenger roster this year, Coleman has been a particularly quick study, organisers say, with three second-place finishes already to his name before his Ascot triumph.

There are six pilots in the Challenger Class and earlier in the day the UK’s own Ben Murphy had earned rousing cheers from the thousands of British fans as he topped the Challenger Class Qualifying times; but after grazing a pylon in the heat of the race, the former Commanding Officer and Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – the Red Arrows – had to settle for sixth place. Mélanie Astles of France and Daniel Ryfa of Sweden rounded out Ascot’s Challenger Class field.

“It’s awesome. This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was 13 years old and I turned 26 in June, so it took 13 years to do it,” said Coleman.

Going on to mention the debut of the Red Bull Air Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA later this year in October, he continued: “We’ve worked really hard all year, and there have been two races that I absolutely wanted to win – Ascot and Indianapolis. So we’ve got one checked off and hopefully we can go to Indy and win there, too.”

Results for the Challenger Class Finals at Ascot
1. Kevin Coleman (USA) 
2. Florian Bergér (GER) 
3. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 
4. Mélanie Astles (FRA) 
5. Daniel Ryfa (SWE)
6. Ben Murphy (GBR)