ACE pilots reached for the sky at Ascot Racecourse last weekend.

A stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship was held at the venue for the first time.

Conditions were very windy and tricky for the pilots, as they took off at the racecourse, negotiated an obstacle course and landed again – but the 29,000-strong crowd was thrilled.

The best-performing pilots over the weekend were Britons Paul Bonhomme and Nigel Lamb.

World leader Hannes Arch, from Austria, came eighth, but still leads the championship by two points over Bonhomme.

Bonhomme had a poor start and was almost elimated, so his eventual victory was especially sweet. It was his 15th career victory in his 55th race and his second victory of the season.

His 12 championship points cut Arch’s lead from 13 points to only two, with three races left in the eight-strong series.

Bonhomme, who has won two previous world championships, said: “I think that has to be the greatest escape yet. It was a dismal performance by me on Saturday and I was almost elimated in the first round.

“The British crowds love aviation and I couldn’t have wished for a better result.” He said it was 'awesome’ to fly around the famous racecourse and added: “What a stunning place to fly aeroplanes”.

Using the fastest, most agile and lightweight racing planes, pilots navigated a low-level aerial track consisting of air-filled pylons 80ft high at speeds of up to 230mph in the quickest time possible. Only one aircraft flies at a time.

Free tickets were available to residents in the vicinity of the flightpath.

Charles Barnett, chief executive of Ascot Racecourse, said the event had 'showcased our country and the village of Ascot to a global audience.’ A race spokeswoman said: “The pilots took off and landed on the track right in front of the crowds, much to their amusement.

“They usually fly in from a local airport, and often over water, making the Ascot event very different.”