Rio welcomed Red Bull Air Race

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The 2010 Red Bull Air Race has visited Rio de Janeiro for stop number three out of eight. The competition was held from 8–9 May, with a record–breaking number of spectators.

The Red Bull Air Race Airport in Rio de Janeiro was formally opened on Wednesday 5 May 2010 at the Santos Dumont Airport when the 14 pilots brought their airplanes down onto the tarmac ahead of the third race of the 2010 season under bright blue skies. Named after Brazil's Alberto Santos Dumont, an early pioneer of aviation who made the world's first officially witnessed fixed–wing aircraft flight in 1906, the airport in Rio is just a few kilometers north of the race track where a million spectators were expected to watch the race. "It's really a historical moment and we're glad to be here, " said Bernd Loidl, the Red Bull Air Race CEO at the opening ceremony with the pilots and local Brazilian officials who helped make the race happen. "We're going to see outstanding racing and a new dimension of motorsport with some of the very best pilots in the world standing here with me. "Paulo Villela, director of operators at RioTur, said he was delighted to welcome the Red Bull Air Race back to Rio after one million Brazilians witnessed the first–ever race in South America here in 2007–the biggest crowd in Red Bull Air Race history. "I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the pilots and we're all glad to have you back, " Villela said told the pilots and a crowd of about two dozen journalists assembled on the tarmac in front of the pilots' hangars. Britain's Paul Bonhomme, who won the first Rio race in 2007, said he reckoned it would be a lot harder to win again this year because the competition has grown intense in the last three years. Even though Bonhomme has since become the dominant pilot by the 2009 title and leading the championship again this year, the hard–fought Rio win in 2007 was only the second victory of his career. "We've seen the competition getting stronger year after year and it'll probably be a much harder fight this year, " said Bonhomme. He said it was a great experience to have one million people cheering him three years ago even though he tries not to notice the crowds while flying at up to 370 kph and enduring forces of up to 12g in the race track. "When you go into the track, your mind is focused on the airplane and the track, " he said. "And everything outside of that is extra information that you don't need. So when you go into the track and you're flying around, you have absolutely no idea about the size of the crowd. It could be one person watching or 10m. But after your run if you take time to have a look down, and I remember doing that here in 2007, it was very, very impressive to see so many people watching. "Brazil's rookie Adilson Kindlemann, who will need approximately three months for a full return to competition after his accident in Perth three weeks ago, was also at the opening ceremony in Rio and said he was looking forward to rejoining the circuit for the European leg in August and September. He said he spent three years dreaming about racing in Brazil after watching the 2007 race as a spectator and added he would not stop dreaming about racing in his home country. "Becoming a Red Bull Air Race pilot was three years in the making, " he said. "I'm glad to be here safe and sound. I want to make sure the next time the Red Bull Air Race comes to Rio there will be a Brazilian pilot competing. "The Brazilian national colours were nevertheless carried in the Rio race by Michael Goulian, an American veteran who signed a new sponsorship deal with Brazil's Petrobras and painted his Edge 540 in the bright green and yellow national colours of Brazil. "I'm very proud to be flying for Petrobras here in Rio and representing such an iconic company in Brazil, " Goulian said, adding he hoped the Brazilian fans would be cheering for him in the race over Flamengo Beach and might start calling him "Gouliano". "If I fly well and make the people of Brazil and employees of Petrobras happy, they can call me whatever they want, " Goulian said. "I feel a special connection with the Brazilians. "Hannes Arch of Austria was declared the winner of the Red Bull Air Race in Rio on Sunday 9 May when adverse weather conditions made it impossible to continue the racing during the Top 12 round and the results were then based on the Saturday's Qualifying sessions. The Austrian had won the Qualifying point. Britain's Nigel Lamb was awarded second place based on coming second in Qualifying while championship leader Paul Bonhomme was forced to settle with a disappointing third place in the third race of the 2010 season. Heavy rain and winds swept across Rio, drenching the 250, 000 spectators, during the Top 12 round that initially forced a delay of the high–speed, low–altitude flying in front of the city's Flamengo Beach with pilots in the air called back to the Race Airport. It was only the second time that this has happened in the 46–race history of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. The last time was in Longleat, UK in 2006 where Bonhomme was declared the winner.

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