Oct 9, 2016
New Race Leaders Head Into Sunrise
Update 0545 MDT Sunday, October 9, 2016 (1145 UTC)
The new leaders of the America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons are in Missouri, headed into daylight and toward the Mississippi River.
Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke of Albuquerque (Team 5) took the lead overnight from Team 1, the Polish entry of Krzysztof Zapart and Bazyli Dawidziuk. The Command Center received landing confirmation from the Polish team last evening.
This would be Cuneo and Fricke's fourth win in the America's Challenge, more than anyone except the late Richard Abruzzo, who won the race five times. The husband-wife team is flying in their 18th America's Challenge, and in addition to their wins have finished second four times. They've been on a roll this year, having also finished fourth in a formidable 24-team field in the gas distance world championships, the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett.
Zapart and Dawidzuik also had a fine flight, setting the pace for most of the race before landing in south Texas yesterday. It's Zapart's second America's Challenge flight and second win. Bert Padelt and Noah Forden of the USA achieved the third-greatest distance. All results are provisional until the teams complete their debriefing with Scoring Officer Jim Byrd and their tracking data is confirmed.
The Command Center is continuing to follow Cuneo and Fricke's progress and you can as well via tracking on the Balloon Fiesta website, www.balloonfiesta.com, or the Balloon Fiesta app on your favorite mobile device. We'd note that the speed reporting capabilities of Team 5's tracking is not currently reporting, but the Command Center is updating the team's position in close to real time.