Red Bull Air Race: Lamb roasts rival pilots in 1st win

Red Bull Air Race: Lamb roasts rival pilots in 1st win

It was a victory that was 44 races in the making.

But having waited almost seven years for his first win, Nigel Lamb could be forgiven for pinching himself after finally getting a taste of Red Bull Air Race success in Putrajaya yesterday.

"I was really taken by surprise," the 57-year-old Briton admitted after he pipped pre-race favourite Hannes Arch of Austria to victory by half a second.

"We had a really tough start to the season so this weekend has been an amazing high for the team and me."

On the back of a disappointing eighth-placed finish last time out in Rovinj, Croatia, few would have given Lamb much chance against Arch, who landed in Malaysia tied with Paul Bonhomme for the championship lead.

And the Austrian continued his fine form with a dominant outing in Saturday qualifying, navigating the aerial racetrack seven-tenths of a second ahead of closest rival Pete McLeod.

"I'm quite happy with my performance all week long," Arch, 46, said of the Air Race's maiden visit to Malaysia.

"We learnt quite quickly how to be fast on this track so my aim was to go to the limit."

But while Arch now holds a five-point lead in the championship hunt, it was Lamb who found that little bit extra when it came down to the final four.

"The race format makes for a situation where you really have to go for it," he said of the three-round system that whittles the field down from 12 to eight and, finally, the quickest quartet.

"It's a fine line between risking too much and not risking enough but I left a little bit in the tank for the final, took a little bit more risk and it paid off."

Lamb was not the only one who had a weekend to remember at Putrajaya Lake, though.

Business development executive Chen Shichang won a pair of Grandstand tickets through a contest jointly organised by Red Bull Singapore and The Straits Times and thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of the Air Race.

"I used to watch it on television but the experience of watching it live was very different," said the motor sports enthusiast, who has volunteered as a marshal at three editions of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.

"From getting a full view of the racetrack and the planes manoeuvring around the obstacles to the sound of the planes flying past, it was a truly memorable experience."

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