BANGKOK – Thailand became the first country in the Asia Pacific region last week to host the Air Race 1 series, the worldâ€™s biggest and fastest air race. It was such a success that the U-tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport has now been approved as a new destination for the Air Race 1 World Cup in 2017.
Air Race 1 Thailand was presented by Chang and is a first for Thailand and Asia. Organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Sports Authority of Thailand and the Royal Thai Navy with the support of Thai Beverage, the race is set to become a major part of the Kingdomâ€™s drive to increase tourism.
Air Race 1 is the worldâ€™s biggest and fastest air racing, gathering speeds of 450 kilometres per hour and more within one minute. In addition to the racing, the event also includes several activity areas offering cultural performances, Thai kick-boxing matches, Thai food, and rice from a farmerâ€™s group in Chachoengsao as well as the One Tambon One Product goods specific to the Eastern region of the country.
The race itself was exhilarating if rather short with American pilot Justin Phillipson declared the winner, in front of 30,000 spectators sitting on beaches on a very hot day.
Phillipson, who pilots a craft named Race 79 No Strings Attached, earned a total score of 4.9438 minutes at a speed of 372.170 kmph while Philip Goforth, who flies Race 69 Knotty Girl, came in second with 4.9498 minutes at 371.719 kmph. In third place was Stanislas Damiron with 5.2043 minutes and 353.541kmph.
After the qualifying round on the first day, Phillipson experienced a small problem with his engine. During the final round, he wasnâ€™t sure if he was in first or second position.
When he realised he would be first to reach the finish line, he celebrated by taking his plane up to a very high altitude. He added that he would definitely come back to Thailand for the World Cup in 2017.
He admitted though to finding the conditions a little more challenging in Thailand compared to Europe.
The main race there is held in the cool, high desert. Being at sea level, the engines produce more power and more heat.
With outside air temperatures close to 30 degrees Celsius, they have to find a compromise between full throttle and higher-than-standard engine temperatures.
However, despite the heat, everyone really enjoyed the unique challenge that Thailand offers. Work is already in progress to design parts to make the aircraft faster and cooler for next year.
Phillipson praised the organisers of the race, saying that he, his team and fellow pilots had thoroughly enjoyed their short stay.
He felt that the people were warm and welcoming and the airport is a perfect place to hold the race.
He said that they enjoyed far more support here than at their base in Reno. The publicity was akin to being rock stars and they were happy to be sharing their passion of air racing with their friends in Thailand.
Source: The Nation