The first racing day of the International Sailplane Grand Prix in Elchingen took place on Sunday. 

In best gliding weather conditions, the International Sailplane Grand Prix championship was ceremoniously declared open on Sunday morning. The mayor of the city of Neresheim Thomas Häfele and the district administrator of the Ostalb district Dr. Joachim Bläse welcomed the 32 pilots and co-pilots. The chairman of the flying club Luftsportring, Dr. Helmut Albrecht, opened the Grand Prix thereafter.

At 10 a.m., the sports director of the Luftsportring, Bernd Schmid, presented the flying tasks to the participants.

The weather was very favorable that day. “We couldn’t have wished for a better start than today!” said Bernd Schmid.

Clear, cool air is the ideal condition for gliding. Given the terms of the Grand Prix, even relatively small weather windows are sufficient for good flights, says Schmid.

The 15-meter class had to fly a distance of 281.1 kilometers. The first leg was from Elchingen southwest to Merklingen. After that first turning point, the pilots returned above the Swabian Alb towards Elchingen. As the Grand Prix is also an event for spectators at the airfields, the task was given to fly over the Elchingen airfield towards the lake Brombach south of Nuremberg. At the airflied, the visitors‘ terrace was crowded with spectators who were able to watch some of the gliders flying right over the airfield.

After the turning point at lake Brombach, the course led further east to Denkendorf (Bavaria).  From there the route was back to Elchingen. The nice thing about a Grand Prix is that the first pilot to cross the finish line is also the winner of the day’s race.

Steffen Göttler from Homburg/Ohm, Germany, was the winner of the day. The World Cup participant and member of the national team showed a convincing performance. Jan Knischewski from Frechen, Germany came in second on an LS-8. The multiple World Cup participant Robert Schröder from Bad Wörishofen, Germany came in third.

Steffen Schwarzer and Paul Schwarz both from LSR Aalen reached places in the midfield.

Markus Frank, the European champion, also from LSR Aalen, had an bad day and had to land after around 35 kilometers.

In the double-seater class, the winner of the day was the Austrian crew Andi Lutz with his co-pilot and former world champion Wolfgang Janowitsch.

Erwin Ziegler and Alexander Schmid came in second on the Aalen Arcus. Third place was achieved by Bastian Hörber and Marcel Schön from Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany.

The double-seaters had to fly a distance of 241.9 kilometers. From Elchingen to Schillingsfürst near Rothenburg ob der Tauber. From there, just like the 15-meter class, to Denkendorf and back to Elchingen.

Average speeds of over 120km/h were achieved in both classes. Weather permitting, the competition will be flown at Aalen-Elchingen airfield this week until June 1st.

The aim of all pilots participating in the Grand Prix in Elchingen is to qualify for the final race in France.

More than 850 spectators worldwide watched the air race on the live stream. The Elchingen competition crew even received greetings from New Zealand. Several hundred visited the airfield to personally witness the takeoffs and landings of the gliders.