On my third visit to Japan I was engaged in photoshooting the fastest moto sport on the planet known as Red Bull Air Race in the sprawling metropolis of Chiba City. Among other things concerning Japan and its culture that puts this location on top of my list of favorite world locations, is the Mount Fuji which may be considered the most recognised mountain in the world.
Nigel Lamb of Great Britain, Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic and home hero Yoshihide ‘Yoshi’ Muroya got a breathtakingly fresh perspective of this iconic peak during recon flight above the Fuji mount. To fly above the national landmark of Japan during this teaser flight is something that I will forever remember as a very special memory.
Chiba is renowned as the birthplace of civil aviation in Japan and is famed for its samurai and warrior heritage. Known as the City of Flowers, Chiba is blessed with an abundance of nature, with traditional Japanese gardens and parks peppering the landscape and creating wonderful contrast between old and new.
The Chiba City stop took place in the Makuhari District, which is located right on the fringes of Tokyo Bay. On this location the fans were able to witness every twist and turn the pilots made over the beautiful shimmering water that lies beyond Japan’s biggest artificial marine beach, which spreads over 4km.
Yoshide Muroya, the local hero, this year took the first win of his Red Bull Air Race career in front of his home fans in Chiba in spectacular fashion. Muroya arrived in his hometown of Fukushima ahead of the race weekend in order to train and have his team work on the raceplane, enabling both man and machine to be in the best shape possible. Confidence in the Team Falken camp was high – the Japanese pilot even commented before Free Practice that: “The team is ready to win and I feel it could happen at any time.”
Muroya’s race to the podium was far from easy, though. In the Round of 14, his smoke system failed and he collected a one-second penalty, which could have put him out of contention before the day had even begun. But his rival in the heat, Pete McLeod, over-G’d and that moment of miscalculation was enough to see the home favourite go through. From that moment onwards, it appeared as if nothing would stop Muroya in his hunt for his first victory.
ABOUT CHIBA CITY
Chiba City is the seat of the Chiba prefectural government and is situated about 40 kilometers from the center of Tokyo, which takes about 40 minutes by train. The city is spread over a vast area with two urban zones: the area around Chiba Station, lined with department stores and so-called “fashion buildings” with many boutiques; and energetic Makuhari Shintoshin, or Makuhari New City, which is the home of the Makuhari Messe, an outlet park, and a baseball stadium.
The bay area with its long, artificial beach is yet another amusement area, complete with a yacht harbor. Makuhari Shintoshin is lined with many skyscraper office buildings and the Makuhari Messe, one of the largest convention facilities in the East.
It contains the International Exhibition Halls with 72,000 square meters of exhibition space, and the International Conference Hall that can be occupied by a maximum capacity of 1,600 people. Various events are held there, such as the Tokyo Game Show.
Nearby is the Chiba Marine Stadium, the home field of the Japanese professional baseball team, “Chiba Lotte Marines.”