Red Bull Air Race World Championship close going into season finale

Red Bull Air Race World Championship close going into season finale

In less than two weeks, Michael Goulian, Martin Šonka or Matt Hall will clinch the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, based on points accumulated over eight races since the season began in February. But with a spread of only seven points among them, there is a genuine possibility that pilots could tie at the top. Here is what will happen if the points come to a draw.

In the final chase, the American Goulian is in the driver’s seat with 70 points, five points ahead of the Czech Republic’s Šonka in second, and with a seven-point advantage over the Australian Hall. All three pilots have a chance to take the title at the season finale in Fort Worth, Texas on 17-18 November, but their individual success relies on a number of factors.


Šonka himself was in the overall lead at the 2017 finale, right up until the last run, where his time put him fourth in the race and dropped him to an overall finish of second. “It's always harder when you're in the lead and then lose it, rather than being in second and not getting on top,” Šonka said. But do not expect him to have any pity for Goulian now that the American is the one being hunted.


Goulian is the only pilot to have a chance at the World Championship no matter where he places in the race at Texas Motor Speedway. Granted, the lower he finishes, the more he will need his two rivals to trip up as well, but there are plenty of potential spoilers in the 14-pilot field who could upset any of the top three in early-round head-to-heads. Šonka, meanwhile, has to finish sixth or above to have a hope for the title, while Hall must earn third or better for his own opportunity at glory. 


As a two-time runner-up in the World Championship, Hall, like Šonka, has experience taking it down to the wire in a season finale. Referring to the Indianapolis stop in October, he pointed out, “Goulian went from being nine points behind to leading again in one race. Things change very quickly in this game, so seven points… we can recover that.” 


And a tie really is possible. It has happened once before, in 2007, when American Mike Mangold and Great Britain’s Paul Bonhomme each closed the season with 47 points, throwing the proceedings into tie-breaker mode. (Mangold won.) So how does it work?


Should a tie occur when the Fort Worth results are tallied with all the other accumulated points from 2018, the first thing the Race Committee will look at is the number of wins over the season. Whoever has the most wins will take the World Championship, simple as that. If the win factor is a tie as well, the number of second-place finishes will come into consideration; then if necessary the third-place finishes, and so on. 


As an example, Goulian can win the title outright with a race victory or second place. But in some other scenarios he could end up tied with Šonka, and then the crown would go to Šonka based on race wins. For instance: If Goulian is fourth in the Fort Worth race, he will have 77 points. And if Šonka finishes second, he will also have 77 points. The decision will rest on 2018 race victories, and Šonka will have three to Goulian’s two. (Unless Hall wins to snatch the World Championship with 78 points!)  


If it comes down to a tie between Goulian and Hall, however, Goulian could have better luck: e.g., with sixth place, Goulian would have 75 points. And at second, Hall would have 75, too. Assuming Šonka didn’t win the race, the American and the Australian would be even at the top of the points. Each would have two race wins – still a deadlock. But Goulian would have a tally of two second-place results to just one for Hall, and Goulian would take the trophy. 


How the American will perform under the stress of the biggest race of his career is an unknown: he has never been in World Championship contention at the final stop on the calendar, and he has admitted, “I struggle with my own confidence.” But after appearing on the podium more consistently than any other pilot this season, and fresh off a tough win at Indianapolis that proved his mettle once again, the American seems to have achieved a new level of self-assurance.  


So as the final round of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship approaches, only two things are certain: even if there is a tie in the points, there will be only one World Champion crowned in Fort Worth, and that pilot will never have lifted the season trophy before. 


See how the points play out: Tickets for the Red Bull Air Race season finale at Texas Motor Speedway on 17-18 November are on sale now. For ticket information and all the news, visit www.redbullairrace.com.


2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship: the permutations

Michael Goulian
If Goulian wins the Fort Worth race or finishes second, he will be World Champion. If he finishes in any other position, here is what needs to happen for Goulian to claim his first title. If Goulian finishes:
3rd – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t take the race win
4th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd, or Hall doesn’t win
5th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd, or Hall doesn’t win
6th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st 
7th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 3rd, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd 
8th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 3rd, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd 
9th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 4th, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd 
10th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 5th, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 3rd 
11-14th – he will be champion if Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 6th, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 3rd  

Martin Šonka
If Šonka wins in Fort Worth, he will become the 2018 champion – as long as Goulian does not finish in second. If Šonka finishes in any other position, here is what needs to happen for him to claim his first title. If Šonka finishes: 
2nd  – he will be champion if Goulian doesn’t finish 1st or 3rd, or Hall doesn’t win
3rd  – he will be champion if Goulian doesn’t finish 1st – 6th, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd 
4th  – he will be champion if Goulian doesn’t finish 1st – 8th, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 2nd 
5th  – he will be champion if Goulian doesn’t finish 1st – 9th, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 3rd 
6th  – he will be champion if Goulian doesn’t finish 1st – 10th, or Hall doesn’t finish 1st – 3rd 
7th  – he can’t be World Champion

Matt Hall
Even if Hall wins the Fort Worth race, he needs Goulian to finish out of the top three. If he wins and Šonka finishes second and Goulian fourth, Hall will be World Champion by one clear point.

If Hall finishes in any other position on Race Day, here is what needs to happen for him to claim his first title. If Hall finishes:
2nd  – he will be champion if Goulian doesn’t finish 1st  – 6th, or Šonka doesn’t finish 1st 
3rd  – he will be champion if Goulian doesn’t finish 1st  – 9th, or Šonka doesn’t finish 1st – 4th 
4th  – he can’t become World Champion 
 


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