Pilot Nigel Lamb is back in Budapest

Posted on: 14th Jul 2016

When it comes to the Red Bull Air Race stop in Budapest, Britain’s Nigel Lamb is one of the most experienced pilots in the current lineup. So what have he and his Breitling Racing Team identified as the key to victory when the series returns to the Hungarian capital on 16-17 July?


The Red Bull Air Race stop in Budapest is legendary, and not only for its knowledgeable fans, spectacular Parliament-building backdrop and breathtaking swoop under the Chain Bridge. In addition to all of those factors, Budapest has been a favorite with pilots over eight previous races because it always provides an opportunity to prove their mettle in challenging conditions. The 2014 World Champion from Great Britain, Nigel Lamb, has been racing at the Pearl of the Danube since 2005; he’s eager to take on Budapest once again this weekend as he fights to claim another title before his retirement at season’s end.


At some stops, the raceteams all seem to agree on the most difficult aspects of the location. In Budapest, however, the pilots rate the challenges differently. Some think the summertime heat could be the make-or-break factor for this landmark 70th Red Bull Air Race. Others anticipate the lightning-fast nature of the reconfigured racetrack to be a critical test, predicting that nailing the first vertical turn will be essential due to strong potential for going over the allowed G limit or infringing ever so slightly on the track’s borders – which comes with hefty penalties. Other pilots are warily eying a new and different chicane.


When it comes to heat, Lamb seems almost to thrive on high temperatures, maybe because he spent years flying in sweltering conditions in his native Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). In fact, he and his Breitling Racing Team captured their first race victory at an oppressively hot 2014 stop in Malaysia. They’ll keep a close eye on the mercury levels, but they know how to cope.


So far this season, Lamb has made the Final 4 in two of three races, including a podium finish at the stop in Spielberg. As the series nears its midpoint in Budapest, there’s still time to make up the 14 points that separate him from Germany’s Matthias Dolderer at the head of the world championship standings. So what part of the racetrack will merit this savvy competitor’s keenest attention?


The pilot leaves that answer to Breitling Racing Team tactician Max Lamb, his son and trusted collaborator who has been analyzing the layout for weeks. And while the tactician acknowledges all of the racetrack’s potential pitfalls for pilots, he believes that ultimately the result may hinge on the chicane.?"The most critical gate angle follows the most challenging chicane we've seen in two years,” Max Lamb asserts, noting that the setup is markedly different than the chicanes pilots are accustomed to from other stops. “The center chicane pylon is offset by about 35 meters, already making it far more significant, and the preceding and following gates also act to extend the chicane flow. To achieve this critical angle your line through this tricky chicane must be perfect."


In the Red Bull Air Race, which is the official world championship of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world's top pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. It’s the ultimate motorsport series in the sky.


The landmark 70th Red Bull Air Race kicks off in Budapest, Hungary with Qualifying on Saturday, 16 July, followed by Race Day on Sunday, 17 July 2016.