05/10/2011 06:14 BST | Updated 05/12/2011 05:12 GMT

David Hempleman-Adams: British Pair Triumph In Challenge Gas Balloon Race

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams has won a top ballooning race in the US.

He and co-pilot Jon Mason finished ahead of the pack in the 16th America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race.

The pair made a fast descent at 35 knots to touch down near the Canadian border, about 64 miles north-west of Minot, North Dakota.

Organisers said unofficial results show that Hempleman-Adams and Mason flew 974 miles over nearly three days after setting off from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The British team believe they have set a new America's Challenge race record time for being in the air by spending 71 hours and 32 minutes aloft - beating the old mark of 68 hours and 46 minutes, which was set in 2008.

This was the first America's Challenge win for Hempleman-Adams, from Wiltshire, and Mason, originally from Canterbury but who now lives in Queensland, Australia.

However, this was not their first win in a gas balloon race in Albuquerque, having won the international Gordon Bennett challenge in 2008.

A delighted Hempleman-Adams said: "We have wanted to win this balloon race since our Gordon Bennett win here in 2008.

"We were up against great competition from the top American Gas balloonists and the top German team with Wilhelm Eimers, which has made it a really exciting race and the last 24 hours have been very tense.

"We are absolutely over the moon."