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13 October 2006

America's Challenge - final

A month ago, Andy Cayton was one frustrated guy. He was one of three U.S. representatives in the Coupe Gordon Bennett, a prestigious international gas balloon distance race much like the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta America’s Challenge. But his bid for victory in that race never got off the ground after his balloon developed a leak.

What a difference a month makes! This morning, Cayton and his co-pilot, Kevin Knapp (Team 5) have apparently claimed victory in the America’s Challenge, after a bold bid that included a transit over water along the Gulf Coast yesterday afternoon. The team then flew through the night, eating away at the distance posted yesterday by Wilhelm Eimers of Germany and American Greg Winker. This morning, Team 5 slipped past Eimers and Winker to become the unofficial winners.

Cayton and Knapp landed safely at 9:08 AM MDT (1508Z) a mile west of Citra, FL and about 15 miles north of Ocala. They report their crew was waiting for them and taking pictures as they came down.

The launch of the race was delayed for three days because of rain in Albuquerque, but the delay was worth it. The competitors enjoyed good weather all the way across the country, making for a safe race for the pilots.

The results are unofficial and provisional until analysis of the race data and scoring is completed and any penalties teams may have incurred for breaches of the event rules are assessed. The unofficial results, along with the tracking maps, may be viewed at www.balloonfiesta.com through the gas tracking page. Official results will be posted to the site once scoring is completed.

For the benefit of those following via e-mail, the unofficial standings are:

1. Team 5 Andy Cayton/Kevin Knapp 2379 km/1478 mi. in 60 hr, 21 min
2 Team 13 Wilhelm Eimers/Greg Winker 2356 km/1464 mi. in 39 hr, 20 min
3: Team 4 Richard Abruzzo/Carol Rymer Davis 1910 km/1187 mi. in 44 hr, 25 min.
4. Team 3 Barbara Fricke/Peter Cuneo 1891 km/1175 mi. in 41 hr, 33 min
5. Team 7 Brian Critelli/Phil McNutt 1699 km/1056 mi. in 36 hr. 8 min
6. Team 8 Louis Vitanza/Bert Padelt 1426 km/886 mi. in 33 hr. 36 min
7. Team 9 Janet Folkes/Bill Arras 1421 km/883 mi. in 31 hr. 19 min
8. Team 10 Mark Sullivan/Frank Wechter 1344 km/835 mi. in 20 hr. 46 min
9. Team 12 J. Michael Wallace/Kevin Brielmann 1278 km/794 mi. in 33 hr. 59 min
10. Team 6 John Kugler/Dennis Brown 1164 km/723 mi. in 20 hr. 41 min
11. Team 1 David Levin/Ron Martin 1139 km/708 mi. in 29 hr. 46 min
12. Team 2 Tom Donnelly/Colin Butter 1043 km/648 mi. in 20 hr. 44 min
13. Team 11 Ruth Lind/John Davis 568 km/353 mi. in 10 hr. 30 min.

Posted by Luc at 6:34 PM

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