My last season, and I aim to make the most of it!

Posted on: 9th Mar 2016 by: Nigel Lamb

When you’re feeling fit and the competitive flame still burns bright, it’s tough to know the right moment to retire!

Soon after Hilary and I were married, I promised her I would stop flying airshows ‘as soon as the flame starts to flicker’ and after I won the 2014 Championship, a close relative (who thinks what we do is simply ‘crazy'!) asked me “Are you going to stop now that you reached the top?”; a timely, excellent question but I knew the right answer . . “Not yet"; I could win again and I would love to win again.

This Red Bull Air Race encompasses everything that fuels my passion for flying . . . the speed at extreme low altitude in a high performance flying machine and the fact that we can compete to millisecond margins in such a professional and challenging environment. Add this to being associated with Breitling and the conclusion must, surely, be that I'm the luckiest sporting aviator on planet Earth! At least, that’s the way I feel . . privileged and extremely fortunate!!

Technical innovation was partly responsible for getting us to the top in ’14 but, last year this strategy took us rather too far 'off track’. By constantly changing the elevator setup without enough time to get settled, my consistency evaporated and along with it some of my confidence. Fortunately, we went back to basics towards the end of the season, started to produce some excellent form and my confidence came surging back. At around this time, Breitling asked me if I’d be keen to compete again in 2016 (what a question!) and this co-incided with Red Bull’s new Mentoring Programme initiative.

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. 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.

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.

Let the racing begin!