Peter Besenyei

 

Plane: MXS-R
Race number: 05
Team partner: Red Bull
www.besenyeipeter.hu

Red Bull Air Race World Championship results
2009: 8th
2008: 5th
2007: 3rd
2006: 2nd
2005: 2nd

Peter Besenyei's MXS-R

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About Peter

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Peter Besenyei is sometimes called the godfather of the Red Bull Air Race – partly because of his pioneering work to help create the sport but also because of economic use of words. No matter how long the question might be, Besenyei will always give a short answer. But then again: when Besenyei talks, people listen. After suffering in silence in 2008 when he failed to get a single podium and also fell out of the top 3 overall for the first time in four years, Besenyei got right to work fixing the problem: his plane.

With his rivals all making rapid improvements with their planes, Besenyei gambled by switching to an Extra 300SR at the start of 2008. But after the German-made Extra proved to be too sensitive and slow in even the slightest of wind, Besenyei abandoned it after the third race in Detroit and returned to the Edge 540 that had brought him glory in the past. But the sport had advanced so far that he quickly realised he would need a new plane – and that he has in 2009 when he becomes one of five pilots in the race to fly an MXS-R - alongside Nigel Lamb, Alejandro Maclean, Sergey Rakhmanin and Matt Hall.

“I hope the new machine will help me win again,” said Besenyei, who won two of the first three races in 2007 but has not been on top of the podium since. “I hope I will be much faster with the new aircraft. My race tactics have been fine and won’t change. Last year was my worst year even though I flew for the most part without making any mistakes. The performance of the aircraft fell far below our expectations.”
Arguably one of the most famous pilots of his generation, Besenyei has claimed just about every aerobatics prize to be won except one: the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. A national hero in Hungary for his flying achievements and the first man to fly upside down beneath the famous Chain Bridge in Budapest, Besenyei has been a model of consistency: he was second overall in 2005 and 2006 before dropping a peg to third overall in 2007. The 5th place in 2008 left the proud Hungarian pining for revenge in 2009. With his elegant flying style, Besenyei almost never has a bad race even if his results were sub-par last year due to his sub-par plane. He excels when the conditions are difficult.

“The pilot to watch out for in 2009 is me,” he said. Why? “The new and faster aircraft,” was Besenyei’s short answer. He is the most unflappable and soft-spoken pilot in the championship. He is likely to give his legendary mono-syllabic answers even when things are going well.

Besenyei, a connoisseur of fine wines and a dedicated family man who also likes to spend time skiing and fishing in the off season, won his first flying contest at the age of 20, piloting a glider, and he has been winning flying competitions for the last three decades. Besenyei was one of the architects of the Red Bull Air Race. He worked closely with Red Bull after it approached him in 2001 to help develop the concept of a race pitting the best pilots in the world against each other in a test of skills. He not only agreed to be part of the race but helped set up the rules. Besenyei, who is also a flight instructor and test pilot in Hungary, has been a leader among the pilots in reforming the rules each year and has also been a mentor for many of the rookie pilots who have joined in recent years. In his home country of Hungary, Besenyei was voted sportsman of the year an unprecedented 21 times.

Flying achievements
2005FAI World Series Grand Prix Lausanne, 1st
2001FAI World Grand Prix Series, 1st
2000Freestyle Aerobatics World Champion (Unlimited)
1998FAI World Grand Prix Series, 1st
1995European Champion of the Compulsory Program
1995Freestyle Aerobatics European Champion (Unlimited)
1994 World Champion of the Compulsory Program (Unlimited)