Red Bull Air Race will not continue after 2019

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Flightline Uk
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Red Bull Air Race will not continue after 2019

Post by Flightline Uk » Wed May 29, 2019 9:33 am

Red Bull has decided not to continue the Red Bull Air Race World Championship beyond the 2019 season. The remaining races this year are: Kazan, Russia, 15-16 June; Lake Balaton, Hungary, 13-14 July and Chiba, Japan, 7-8 September.

There have been more than 90 races since Red Bull Air Race began in 2003. These have given the world’s most exceptional pilots the opportunity to compete in high speed flying at low altitude with extreme maneuvers. The Red Bull Air Race provided sports entertainment of highest quality but did not attract the level of outside interest as many other Red Bull events across the world.

Red Bull thanks the pilots, their teams, partners, the host cities as well as the Red Bull employees for all they have done to make these enjoyable and memorable events.
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Post by Adam » Wed May 29, 2019 9:44 am

This is very sad and unexpected news. RBAR was genuinely my favourite motorsport and I followed it religiously. It's a big loss to airshows and air sports globally.
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Post by awal2049 » Wed May 29, 2019 9:26 pm

Well, at least we still have a few races to look forward to. I hope a new championship forms in the wake of this one. It seems like there’s enough demand for air races to continue at some point.
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Post by RyanS » Wed May 29, 2019 9:28 pm

Very surprising news! I was never super into RBAR myself, but I saw huge crowds at the events I did attend. There have been previous mentions of difficulty finding race sites, and I wonder if that played into it. Part of me wonders whether someone will try to buy the IP rights to the format and pylons and such and start something similar, but without the financial backing of Red Bull I don't see it being very successful. The production value of the events I attended was ridiculous! It would be difficult to emulate.

http://airshowstuff.com/v4/2019/red-bul ... 19-season/
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Post by Adam » Thu May 30, 2019 5:01 am

RyanS wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 9:28 pm
There have been previous mentions of difficulty finding race sites, and I wonder if that played into it.
The hosting rights were just enormously expensive. I visited Matt Hall's strip a few years ago in Newcastle NSW and he said they had a long-term plan to bring the race there, but later I found that the local government did a study and decided it wasn't worth paying for. I notice that, before their break in 2010, many of the places they went to attracted hundreds of thousands of people per day - sometimes almost a million. Over the last few seasons they seem to have dropped many of those established locations and chased the money (I'm guessing) with much less popular venues in Saudi Arabia, Russia etc. Same story with TV rights, moving from established mainstream broadcasters to pay-to-view channels who could presumably pay more for the rights. Perhaps that was the best or only way to make the sport work commercially, but I can see why it would become less valuable to Red Bull as a publicity tool as a result.
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Post by Flightline Uk » Thu May 30, 2019 8:56 am

It is very sad but I don't find it that surprising - there have been some very severe headwinds the series has been battling. With everything that was happening this year, it did look like a 2020 series would look very different (Master Class pilot retirements etc.) and would probably have required additional investment to fill the gaps.

You could never accuse RBAR of not doing things properly. Red Bull as a whole set themselves very high standards I whatever they get involved with. They invested huge amounts into developing its own sporting regulations, safety protocols and infrastructure. It had a large and experienced staff too supporting the series. Certainly, in the UK some have pointed to some of RBAR's training (particularly water landings and recovery) as something that should be introduced for airshow pilots. The fact the series is recognised by the FAI is testament to the standards RBAR set.

Replacing the 2019 retirees may have been proving difficult. Though the Challenger series was a great way to bring on talent and expose them to competing in races, it never fed the Masters series properly. Did a Challenger Champion ever reach the Masters? The pilots that made it to the Masters all deserved to be there, but they needed substantial backing too. Even for the established Masters pilots, just staying there was a challenge - Just look at the lack of sponsorship on the aircraft this year. You have to look too at the pilots that are there. When RBAR was at its most popular there were some great rivalries between some real characters. Mike Mangold vs Paul Bonhomme vs Hannes Arch was perhaps the high point of the series. That just isn't there now. The most recent champions have all been very deserving of their title, but are they that interesting? Yoshilde Muroya is really very popular in Japan, but is the same true of other pilots and their home countries?

The loss of Budapest must have been a body blow too. Not only was a great looking iconic venue it was pretty much the home of RBAR. I understand that even the new replacement venue is under threat. I don't think the series has been able to maintain the standard of venue for a number of reasons. With the exception of Abu Dhabi and Indy, there were not really many appealing venues slated for 2019.

Coverage of Red Bull Air Race by television and other media has been on the decline for sometime as it could not compete with other sporting events. Apart from the somewhat fanatical Japanese media teams that followed Muroya, there were hardly any other mainstream press within the RBAR Media Centres - just local press covering their local events.

It was not that long after RBARs inception it found its way on to UK terrestrial TV. When the races were in London it was even shown live in the UK on a mainstream channel. It then appeared behind a pay-wall on satellite TV (Sky Sports 3 and then Sky Sports Max) for a few years. For the past two years it even fell off that and only remains on UK TV thanks to a channel (Freesports) which just relays events which are streamed online.

This story of waning interest is not unique to RBAR, there have been countless other motorsports that have gone through very similar stories (GP Masters, A1 GP etc)
Last edited by Flightline Uk on Thu May 30, 2019 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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