The Red Bull Air Race kickoff on 11-12 March will mark the ninth and final season of competition for Great Britain's Nigel Lamb. However, Lamb is not only aiming for a second title this year, but he's actively mentoring a bright new pilot of the future.
For British pilot Nigel Lamb, the battle for the 2016 Red Bull Air Race World Championship will be like none other in his nine seasons of competition. The 2014 World Champion has announced that he'll retire after October's finale in Las Vegas – and that in the meantime, he'll not only be pushing hard to add another title to his resume, but pioneering a new mentoring program for race pilots of the future in addition.
Since his debut in the first year of the World Championship, 2005, Lamb has claimed 12 career race podiums, plus third place overall (2010) and his ultimate triumph in 2014. His heritage also extends beyond the podium, however, to his keen interest in developing new ideas and concepts.
Currently, Lamb is pioneering a Master Mentoring Program that pairs select candidates who emerge from the Challenger Class to train with Master Class teams. Mentored by Lamb and the Breitling Racing Team, 2015 Challenger Cup Champion Mikael "Mika" Brageot of France will train intensively rather than compete this year, flying Lamb's raceplane at most Red Bull Air Race stops.
As for the British mentor's own aspirations, make no mistake: Lamb intends to go out like a lion. Having resolved the technical problems of an uncharacteristically inconsistent 2015 season, the Breitling Racing Team is as competitive as ever and eager to race. In fact, the team is strengthening its technical tactics to gain every competitive advantage, including a one-two punch of expertise: MX aircraft specialist Mark Hensman will join the team as its traveling technician, while Nigel "Hux" Huxtable, the team's technician for seven years including the championship season, will contribute his support and in-depth knowledge of the MXS-R raceplane from the UK.
"So, here we are; the first 2016 race is almost upon us, my competitive flame of passion is burning strong and yet, 'somewhere in my bones' I know that this has to be my last season," the pilot stated."Maybe the flame would not start to flicker for a few more years, but it's always best to balance instinct and wisdom. I know it's not really a matter of stopping when you've reached the top but stopping before the appetite wanes. I've made the right decision."
Lamb added, "I have an amazing team, I have the privilege of mentoring Mika Brageot, last year's Challenger Cup winner, and I will do all I can to win this year before hanging up my racing gloves in Las Vegas on 16th October 2016."
Don't miss Nigel Lamb's farewell season: Tickets for all stops of the 2016 Red Bull Air Race World Championship – including the season opener in Abu Dhabi on 11-12 March and Lamb's home race at the UK's Ascot Racecourse in August – are on sale now.